Personal branding is the practice of people marketing themselves and their careers as brands.
What is your personal brand?
Your personal brand is nothing but the way people perceive you based on what they know about you.
Creating a personal brand is all about how you present yourself to the industry you are/aspire to be a part of.
However, a word of caution here – just self-promotion might not help you build a quality brand for yourself.
The trail of reputation that you leave behind at every juncture in your career also keeps adding to your overall professional and personal image.
Add to that your online footprint! The first thing that any potential employer or client does, when you initiate an engagement, is to web search you.
A quick google search can give out a lot about the person/professional you are, impacting practically every aspect of your career- hiring decision, job continuity, promotions, project deployments, or business deals.
So, watch your steps!
Why personal branding matters
- Businesses have come to realize that their company’s image out there, is the sum total of the personal brands of all its employees put together!
A few bad apples in the organization – and the reputation goes for a toss! So does the business.
A stringent hiring process ensures that only the right brands get hired thus helping the overall brand identity of the organization.
- The trend of the gig economy has changed the way industry has been functioning in current times.
A millennial on average switches jobs every 2 to 3 years. To bag the next job at this kind of frequency, she/he has to be in a constant brand-building mode for self.
Also, the trend of contract work and freelance has furthered the importance of self-branding with the aim to attract clientele.
- In case you are aiming to launch your own venture, remember- you, the person, will be your company!
You will need to use your personal brand as stepping stones to establish a strong standing for your business.
How to establish your personal brand
The best personal brands are the ones that build a strong reputation for you.
Industry experts believe there is no harm in self-promotion as long as you are personifying yourself honestly.
Your Personal brand should aim to –
- bring out your strengths,
- demonstrate your knowledge and skills,
- project you as someone dependable,
- display your unique attributes, and
- help you exhibit an overall positive professional image.
Clearly, this cannot be done overnight!
Ask any valued brand; establishing your credibility is a conscious work in progress, all through.
Here are some vital steps that you can take to build a name. This in turn will facilitate positive self-branding, thereby upping your growth quotient.
- List down your skills, strengths, and interests
- What area of my work do I excel in?
- What personal attributes have earned me compliments?
- Which projects can I work on passionately without feeling drained?
- What makes people view me as reliable and trustworthy?
- For which segments of my work, do I repeatedly need help?
- Which roles do not excite and enthuse me?
You can also pose these questions to your friends and co-workers to fix any blind spots. Tally your answers with theirs to know how you come across to the world.
Once you are better aware of your calibre and interests, you can decide how best to brand them.
- Pick out the pain points of your intended audience
Determine what you intend to offer to your audiences. Club it with identifying their pain points.
To be able to do that, you must have the aptness to detect what specifically twinges them.
For instance, figuring out what your manager’s struggle points are and coming up with a solution, without being asked for, will brand you as proactive, thus adding to your reputation.
Helping interns who struggle with their assignments or offering to relieve overwhelmed colleagues with some of their duties are other examples.
Display the brand that you want to be known for, repeatedly, in your actions.
The people you are associated with at work, play important role in shaping your brand. A strong word of mouth from them can do wonders for your career!
- Attend networking events
As you pursue your model personal brand, do remember, that growing your professional circle is critical to it.
Be a regular at events where you get to network with thought leaders and subject matter experts from your industry.
Put in genuine efforts to provide value in all your interactions.
Here are a few examples of types of events you can attend:
- Addresses by industry experts
- Philanthropic events by coworkers
- To the purpose trade shows
- Dinners and lunches organized by like-minded groups
- Seminars and workshops
- Webinars, podcasts by Subject Matter Experts
- Launch events relevant to your field
- Guest-talk opportunities where you get to address
- Interest groups for informal interactions
By regularly networking at these events, you will be able to build a robust personal brand that can help advance your career.
- Manage online reputation
Your online footprint is already shaping your personal brand.
A quick googling is likely the first thing anyone who contemplates engaging with you will do.
It is always a good idea to control what a search engine might let out when you are looked up.
Here are a few things you can do to put your online presence in order:
- Type your name into Google. Check what comes up. Fix anything that can question your professionalism or show you in a bad light. Get rid of anything that doesn’t fit with your vision for your personal brand.
- Reset all your personal accounts to restrict who can see your posts.
- Upload professional/decent profile pictures for all your accounts. Remember that even if you change the settings of your various social media accounts to private, your profile picture in most cases is public.
- Do not mix your personal and professional accounts when sharing content.
- Choose two main social media platforms to channel You the brand
Select two main social media sites to support your brand and career goals.
Base your choice of platforms on:
- where your target audience usually hangs out
- the type of content you are looking to share
- a primary platform for long-form content that adds high value to your brand. Could be – Podcast, blog site, YouTube channel, etc.
- a secondary platform that allows high engagement with your audience like Twitter, FB page, etc.
Interaction helps cultivate sustainable relationships and over a period of time converts them into your personal brand’s loyal endorsers.
- Share content that helps your audience solve their problems
- Give advice and your perspective on your industry and work.
- If you have a view that is different from the common phenomena, go ahead and highlight that.
- Talk about what has worked for you in your career and what hasn’t.
- Share helpful information about a relevant new project/product/venture.
- Follow example-setters
Look for well-regarded thought leaders and industry experts who have made it big. Follow them on social media. Aim to gain insight and proficiency from their blog posts, webinars, podcasts, online courses, etc.
Here are some examples of highly celebrated personal brands.
- Oprah Winfrey: is deservingly regarded as the queen of personal branding. The talk show host, actress, and billionaire philanthropist is hugely popular for challenging her viewers to realize their hidden potential and live their lives the best possible way.
Her USP – Adopt your best possible version and motivate others to do the same.
- Richard Branson: is another name for Adventure! Dynamism!
A daring entrepreneur and adventurer, head of Virgin Group, Branson’s powerful personal brand is all about unorthodox style and commitment to his passion.
A school dropout, Branson never allowed inexperience to ever come in his way of pursuing his goals.
His latest accomplishment in space tourism has taken the value of his personal brand to newer heights.
- Anand Kumar: is a celebrated Indian mathematician. He is well known for his super 30 classes where he prepares 30 economically backward students for the entrance examination for the Indian Institutes of Technology (IITs).
The brand value that he has built for himself even inspired a biopic on him, called Super 30.
- Marie Kondo: is an Organizing consultant, author, and TV show host.
The brand that Marie Kondo carries is an extension of her fascination for arranging, tidying and bringing order to cluttered spaces.
Marie began her tidying consultant business at the young age of 19. Today, she is a celebrated tidying expert helping people around the world bring tranquility and orderliness to their cluttered homes.
- Neil Patel: has successfully positioned his personal brand as the guru of SEO and digital marketing. He teaches how to market online by modeling his learnings as an entrepreneur.
His massively followed blogs are well-researched and backed with tested evidence.
Neil leverages his personal brand to help the world’s top companies grow their traffic exponentially.
The Do-Nots of Personal Branding
A few things to avoid when building your personal brand:
– Don’t go redundant. Keep learning to get better at what you do.
– Don’t let negativity seep into your work. Sound and feel enthusiastic in all your actions.
– Never compromise on your core values. Align these with your larger work goals.
– Do not separate ‘You- the brand’ from your business story. People connect better with a business when there is a face to it.
A great personal brand is the result of good work and visibility. Leverage every interaction you have at work to varnish your personal brand, and thereby your career.