Whether you are a business owner, job hunter or currently employed, personal branding plays a significant role in taking your career to the next level.
Thanks to social media and the internet, each time someone googles your name, what they see about you is your personal brand. What first impression are you making?
People want to buy from people. We are moving from the technology revolution to the revolution of the heart. Even with large corporates, people want to know who the leaders are, what their values are and what they stand for. Seth Godin, a best selling author and entrepreneur, said it best “People do not buy goods & services. They buy relations, stories & magic.’’ What are you doing with how you show you show up to create that heart connection with others?
When you have a strong personal brand, you’ve built enough trust with people that they want to know more. You’ll attract more people and more opportunities to allow people to feel connected to you.
Jeff Bezos, Founder and CEO of Amazon, said: “Your brand is what other people say about you when you are not in the room.”
This boils down to your reputation in the market. What are people saying about you? What attributes or skills would they first associate your name with? How would they describe you?
Your personal brand speaks before you do. It’s how you convey your values, behaviours and character to the world. Your online reputation can either take on a life of its own or you can control the narrative. With the proliferation of social media and the gig economy, it’s essential to embrace personal branding.
This is a major shift from when a brand was built on what message you sent out, these days it’s about the stories that you tell. While a company used to be in control of the marketing message of their brand, with social media, marketing is now a two-way conversation and others are in control of how you are perceived.
Personal branding showcases your unique combination of skills and experience that make up who you are. It’s homing in on who you are and what you stand for and finding ways to make that visible to make your skills and passions memorable to others. While a resume used to be enough to showcase this to potential employers or clients, your reputation – both online and offline – is now more about what you want to be known for in the eyes of friends, colleagues, clients and contacts.
Regardless of if you work for an organisation or you run your own business, people want to work with others that they like, know and trust. This is true in business as well as when recruiting. By focusing on your own personal branding you’ll see many benefits for both your life and career. You’ll improve your confidence while gaining trust, authenticity, connections and credibility.
Have you ever met someone who appears a certain way when you meet them, but their social media reflects a very different set of values? Even with tight security settings, there is still plenty of information that someone can see, such as what types of posts you are interacting with. You need to align your brand to reflect how you show up in all circumstances, whether in person or online. Only showing up and reflecting your personal values some of the time can send a confusing message to those around you.
By building a solid personal brand, you are creating a rapport with others before you might have even met them. Plenty of recruiters will admit to using social media during the interview process. And with the rise of the gig economy, companies are looking to hire freelancers for a range of tasks. Building your personal brand can help keep you top of mind when they need someone with your skillset and position you as a thought leader in your industry.
The best place to start is to ask people how they would describe you. If you are an employee, you could start by asking your boss and some colleagues. Check your past performance reviews and read the comments on what is being said about you. If you run your own business, then try to ask some past clients or peers. You’ll likely start to see some words used to describe you coming up time and time again. Check those words against your beliefs on what your values are. Do they align?
Once you’ve settled on your values and attributes that you want to convey as your personal brand, now is the time to craft the narrative around how you show up online and in person. It can be beneficial to write down your own brand statement as well as 3 to 5 core values that you stand for. Keep this on a piece of paper that you can refer to regularly. That way you can sense check everything from your social media posts to meetings, speaking engagements and blog articles to ensure they align to your personal brand. It’s about mindfully amplifying who you are.
You want to make considered choices about how you show up for other people. This can be simple things like how you dress, do you wear heels or flats, makeup or not, the language you use, do you choose to swear. Or look at what and who you follow on social media, what do you talk about at lunch with colleagues or clients and how much of your personal life you share. These are all factors that others will take into account when forming their opinion of your personal brand. What are you doing to help influence that design in a way that aligns with who you authentically are?
And be mindful that your brand could evolve over time. As you continue to build new skills and apply new learning your authentic self may evolve to open up new opportunities.
Whether you are looking to make more sales in your company or progress your corporate career, personal branding is more important than ever. You don’t need to be Oprah or Bono to have a great personal brand. It’s just a matter of continually curating your presence on and offline. You never get a second chance to make a first impression – so consider what you can do to make it a good one.
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