Building Your Own Brand
What is a personal brand?
A personal brand is the perception that others hold of you, due to your behaviours, characteristics and qualities shown in daily interactions. A great example is to think about when a colleague’s name gets brought up in conversation, how do people react? Do you ever hear them say, “she is so difficult to work with”, “he is known for throwing people under the bus”, “she is very knowledgeable and always delivers exceptionally”, or “he’s a really amazing leader”? Well, these are all statements that illustrate personal brands in action and if you don’t know what your personal brand is, ask people to honestly answer how you are perceived.
Why do we struggle building personal brands?
It can be really hard to build a personal brand because it isn’t natural for us to have to analyse our own qualities and attributes. Some people worry that in doing so, you can come across as self obsessed but this is not a disingenuous pursuit and something we all need to become more comfortable with doing, for the sake of our careers.
Just like when you start a new role, imposter syndrome can also creep in, the feeling of not being qualified or worthy to have that position or feeling like your thoughts are not worth sharing, but in this case you are the most qualified person to build your brand and we are about to talk about why it is so important!
Why is it important?
“An overwhelming 85 percent of hiring managers report that a job candidate’s personal brand influences their hiring decisions.”
Building a personal brand is definitely not a pointless task, especially when you realise that it can affect your career development. Decisions about your career are influenced by two things, your performance and your visibility, so make sure you get the balance of building a brand you can live up to but that also doesn’t under sell you. Otherwise, if you are solely focused on visibility but always under deliver, you are all icing and no cake and people won’t advocate your brand, but on the other hand, if you are great at performing but always fly under the radar, unfortunately you can get over looked for career and development opportunities.
When it comes to applying to a new position, give your brand the same attention as updating your CV, prepping for the interview or acquiring references and hopefully it will increase your chances of taking the next step in you career because, if you don’t build your own personal brand, others will do it for you.
How to build a personal brand?
Have a focus
- Have three of four key words that you want to be known for and renowned for internally and externally, these can be character values or even job responsibilities that you have or want to take on. If you need to reshape your professional reputation, it is best to engage in project roles, initiatives or external activities that will strengthen you in the desired area of your identity.
- What do you want to be, in 3 years, 5 years, 10 years time? Does your brand at the moment relate to where you want to be, because your brand needs to move in advance of where your goals are.
- Stick to your core values and make a positive impact, try and build your message around giving, not taking. If you’re providing some sort of insight piece, a blog or a podcast, don’t take the credit for it, give back because what goes around, comes around.
- Everything you do now or next week, will either strengthen or dilute the personal brand you are trying to create.
- To consolidate your message with people, it will sometimes take three or four conversations for them to grasp that this is what your focus is and where your strengths are. So, stick with it and eventually other people will tell your story — when people truly understand your strengths and you deliver on them, they will recommend you, without you asking, this is when your brand is doing the most important work for you — referrals!
How to promote your personal brand?
It is becoming increasingly important to promote your brand because we are now working remotely more and interacting in person less, so people aren’t subconsciously learning it through daily interactions. You need to be comfortable with selling yourself and knowing your elevator pitch but also evolving it if needed.
When you are promoting your brand internally, you need to evolve your style and have a slightly different brand to suit who you are addressing. For example, some of your key words might be suitable for your team like ‘trustworthy and reliable’ but you may want you to be remembered as ‘courageous and committed’ by a stakeholder, like the CEO, so you can have a selection of core values you choose from.
Promoting your brand is an everyday project that you must continue working on, here are some examples how:
- Get involved in every meeting possible, prepare one question before hand so you will be engaged and be noticed
- Say yes to relevant opportunities that will progress the direction you want your brand to go in
- Promote yourself as this also promotes the company. Write an article or share a project you are working on, as personal posts on LinkedIn, as they can get much higher engagement than company posts
- Take ownership and be active, go to award nights and share your expertise through presentations
- Take your brand across the organisation, can you interface with other teams and even internationally, if your company has global offices
- Who you surround yourself with also affects how others see you, this is not as relevant when remote working but something to remember
- Make sure you promote your brand externally to people outside of your company. Maximise your online profile, include recommendations on your LinkedIn page, engage with your network, attend events and remind useful contacts you can deliver
For more information on how to build you own brand, you can watch the presentation this article was inspired by here.
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