The pandemic has had an immense impact on our working lives, and the need for a powerful personal brand is more significant than ever.
‘Personal brand’ has become a bit of a buzzword lately. How many of us really know what it is, why it’s needed, or how to use it for maximum success?
You might be thinking, why do I have to care about this? “I’m a private person” or “I hate social media.” However, you can have an active online presence without baring your soul.
So why is personal branding important?
The working world is changing rapidly. Working for one or two companies for 40 years seems to be a thing of the past, plus the nature of work itself is changing.
People are job-hopping more, and also, they’re rethinking whether they even want to have a steady, full-time job in an office.
Likewise, more and more companies are reassessing whether they want to employ many full-time workers.
The pandemic has thrown many companies and employees into a “remote working experiment,” resulting in many questions cropping up.
With the rapid rise-and-fall of startups, together with the decline of previously huge brands, even securing a full-time job at a growing or well-established company doesn’t necessarily mean that you have a steady position for the next 3–5 years.
Perhaps the pandemic may have allowed you to build a side hustle or pushed you to figure out what you really want in your career. I know it has helped us to take time to think about what we want in our company/careers.
As a result, whether you’re feeling settled in your job or not, it’s essential to present yourself as a service provider who a) offers skills to solve problems and b) adds value no matter where you are or for who you work.
The power of a personal brand is uniquely yours, and you are in charge of creating and refining it.
You can have the ability to manage your reputation, both online and in real life. Remember, you can build and refine it over time, but you need to get the basics right from the start.
Think about a company you like……
Think about how people feel about X, how people talk about X, and whether or not people recommend X products/services to others.
These thoughts all come down to much more than the company’s marketing materials or advertising campaigns — sleek as those are.
Perhaps company X has an inspiring founding story and iconic style, but I’m sure those things weren’t necessarily what got it to where it is today.
Most successful iconic brands have succeeded because people LOVE its products and the level of service it provides.
They love what X products do for them and how they make their lives more convenient and pleasant.
And a similar thing is true for your personal brand. Your personal brand doesn’t just relate to having a slick, carefully crafted appearance on social media.
For those a little shy, let me reassure you, you don’t have to be the type of person who shares pictures of your lunch or tweets every thought you have to build your personal brand.
You don’t even have to churn out lengthy blog posts to start branding yourself as “someone who’s engaged in an industry.”
So let’s clarify personal branding even further. There’s a lot more to it than having;
-A nicely completed LinkedIn profile (please make sure it is grammatically correct. We spot so many minor errors on LinkedIn profiles, they switch people off immediately).
-A well laid-out CV.
-And a pleasant, professional headshot.
Instead, your personal brand is about – what you want to be known for, what you have to offer people and what you stand for
-What you deliver
-Whether you do deliver on your promises
-What it’s like to interact and deal with you
-Do you provide a good level of service?
Start by thinking about a quick, simple, and memorable statement describing who you are and what you have to offer (incorporating your personality, description, function).
This statement should communicate clearly who you are (be honest), it should be memorable and straightforward, and it really should feel inspiring to you.
Your personality and how it affects the experience someone will have with you
Are you insanely organised? Do people love working with you for your killer sense of humour or your empathy?
-How do I make people feel?
-How do people benefit from working with me?
-What words do others use to describe me?
Identify what or who your brand is for.
As an individual, yours might be an industry (“healthcare” or “education”), or it might be a tangible skill (“creative” or “strategic”).
-What field or industry am I in (or do I want to be in)?
-What are the words I would use to describe my work?
-Who is my target audience?
Lastly, write down what, exactly, you do (or will do). It might be something that directly relates to your career: writing, graphic design, or financial planning, for example.
Or, it might be something broader. For example, are you a manager, a creator, an organiser? A connector of people?
-What service do I have to offer people?
-What do I do that makes me stand out from everyone else?
Finally, look at your three lists of words, and see how you can combine them into a short sentence or phrase—no more than five words.
You might be a “dependable, strategic planner” or “a creative professional connector.” Or “motivating others to do their best.”
It is so much easier than ever for people to assess your reputation online before engaging with you or your services.
Employers/potential clients will Google you before they even invite you to an interview or provide a proposal from your company. Don’t forget your current employer probably has an eye on what you’re doing, too!
When you interact with people online and offline, they’ll build up an image of who you are over time. You can be in control of all of those impressions.
Why leave your professional reputation to chance when you can do your own PR and manage your image?
The importance of building your reputation and how do you create it?
You want to be known for good work and for delivering your promises, and you want to create a reputation that sees you make more quality contacts and connections, attract more potential job offers, or bring in more new business.
Craft your personal brand to be consistent from start to finish. I can’t highlight this enough – it is all in the details, the little things.
Here are some easy things you can do right now to enhance your personal brand and reputation:
Go above and beyond in your dealings with people. Provide value to them and offer an extra bit of service or help.
Select one to two social platforms that work for you and engage with content relevant to your area of expertise.
Replying to messages or comments across all your chosen social media, simple shares or just taking a minute or two to say “thanks but no thanks” can go a long way towards building your brand and positive reputation. Of course, this goes for your e-mail inbox too!!
Connect to people with a personalised message
If you reach out to people to explore new career opportunities or build your network, make sure you do so with a personalised message.
So few people do this, but it can make the difference between a LinkedIn connection that’s just another number on your “followers” list and a LinkedIn connection that develops into a relationship of mutual value and trust.
It’s a strategy that takes less than five minutes of your time on each occasion but can reap significant rewards.
Offer advice to people, set up connections, or refer others to contacts of yours who could help them?
You might initially feel as if doing this is an inefficient use of your time. Perhaps you think there’s nothing obvious in it for you, and you would be doing it out of the goodness of your heart.
But it is evident that the more you build a network of goodwill around yourself, the more you’ll enhance your personal brand and set yourself up for success in the long term (remember it isn’t about quick wins, you are in it for the long game, “relationships don’t happen overnight”).
Build and refine over time!
Never forget people talk, and you shouldn’t underestimate the power of word-of-mouth (marketing); it is what gives personalised credibility.
As my Dad has constantly reminded me, “Be nice to people on your way up because you will probably meet them on your way down” (a slight adaptation of Wilson Mizner’s quote).