What is personal branding?
A personal brand is a bit like a trademark, we all know that a tick represents Nike and that Coca Cola use a certain shade of red, well a personal brand works a bit like that, it is made up from the elements that people associate with you.
These elements are a combination of your day-to-day actions, the way you use your communication skills and your activity on social media. A personal brand is not necessarily a pretty logo or a clever strapline, although these may be part of your personal branding, it is a picture of you as a whole (hopefully without the warts). Sallie Krawcheck, the CEO and co-founder of female investment company Ellevest highlights the importance your professional values have to your brand,
‘But… before defining your personal brand comes defining your professional mission. This can be the really hard part. What matters to you? What are you trying to accomplish? Why do you do it?’
Why do I need a personal brand?
Make no mistake about it, whether you have set out to create one or not, you already have a personal brand. As Amazon chief Jeff Bezos is credited with first saying,
‘Your brand is what people say about you when you are not in the room.’
Personal branding isn’t a new concept; a smart business card once did the job of several social media pages. However with the vastly increased speed of information sharing, your personal brand has become the most important way to get noticed in your field. If you don’t commit time and effort to managing your personal brand you will compare unfavourably to those who do.
How will a personal brand assist me in my current job?
To a business, the personal brand of their employees is important because advertising messages from recognised individuals (i.e. those with a strong personal brand) will be trusted. According to Nielsen’s 2015 Global Trust in Advertising report,
‘The most credible advertising comes straight from the people we know and trust.’
In other words customers trust people more than they trust companies. This means that if your personal brand is strong, you are an asset to your company; you are more likely to bring in business and obtain a good response from clients. This should stand you in good stead when it comes to promotion time.
How can personal branding help me get a better job?
More and more employers are turning to social media and word of mouth as a method of recruitment instead of the traditional advert/application model. Having a strong personal brand when you are looking for new employment is the equivalent of putting a new book in the bookshop window. A strong personal brand will make you visible and, if a prospective employer does not approach you, will put your application at the top of the interview pile.
How do I create a personal brand?
Your personal brand is not a static thing and will evolve with time. If you want to get it right you will need to apply some commitment. You need to be prepared to take part in activities that will contribute to your personal brand and then make sure that the world knows about them. As Virgin CEO Sir Richard Branson said,
‘Branding demands commitment; commitment to continual re-invention; striking chords with people to stir their emotions; and commitment to imagination.’
Skillstalk has a few top personal branding tips
- Think carefully about the market you want to target with your personal brand, and then focus on elements of your life and personality that you believe will appeal to it.
- Have fewer active social media accounts rather than many inactive ones.
- Have an active LinkedIn account , this will help you to present yourself on a business level.
- Write a regular blog, this is a great way to present your values and build authentic online relationships.
- Don’t limit your personal branding to online activity. Examples of other activities that will contribute to a strong personal brand include: online study, taking the opportunity to meet people, for example at business breakfasts and volunteering your time for a worthwhile cause.
- Stay consistent to your brand. Make sure that the image you portray doesn’t clash with your stated or implied values.
- Present your own self and your own values; people are quick to see through deception. As Oscar Wilde said,
‘Be yourself, everyone else is already taken.’
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