To be clear, I never really understood what personal brand is, or why it is important until I worked with Al and the team here at Optix. What follows is a combination of my learnings based on observations I’ve been fortunate enough to experience over the past two years. In passing this along I hope it helps others to make a start in understanding their personal brand and how they can get started.
Have you ever tried Googling yourself? Whatever pops up will likely be the first impression people have of you. According to a 2018 Careerbuilder survey, 70% of employers use social media to screen candidates during the hiring process and 43% of employers use social media to check on current employees. Nowadays, you are so much more than your CV or portfolio – even if you haven’t made any attempts to create one, you have a personal brand which already exists if you are active online.
Whenever you publish any content online, whether that is a blog, social media post or comment on someone else’s post, that content reveals your values and aspects of your personality to those who read it. Personal branding is all about taking control of this narrative and is the process of establishing your public persona for your target audience. It involves thinking about who you are, your values, beliefs and goals, and the way you aim to express these to the world. A personal branding strategy is something that should be considered carefully as it can take your career from relative obscurity or high visibility.
Why should you care about your own personal brand?
Taking your personal brand into your own hands will mean that you are able to present yourself in the best possible light to your target audience – whether that is potential employers or other business professionals.
Your personality is what sets you apart from competitors and ensuring your values, beliefs and goals are publicly known and available will allow you to work for or with organisations that you align with.
You will also be able to establish yourself as a thought leader in your field by publishing content which exhibits your knowledge and experience. This will enable you to earn respect from other business professionals in your field and increase your chances of working with those you wish to work with.
Why should personal branding matter to directors and business owners?
As a director or business owner, it is not only your own personal brand that matters, but also the personal brands of your employees.
Your own personal brand will impact your business because, as a director or business owner, your own values will likely be the values of your organisation. This means you are a core representative of your business and when prospective employees or clients search for you online, they will form their opinion of your business and what it is like to work with you based on what they find. Personal branding is therefore vital for directors and business owners because, if utilised correctly, it can be a useful tool which will lead you to working with the right people. However, if ignored, it can damage the image of your organisation.
When it comes to your employees, their personal brands also impact your organisation. Every employee publicly represents your business both online and in person. By encouraging your employees to embrace personal branding and to be more active online, you can increase your organisation’s exposure and ensure that your business’ target audience is aware of the skills your employees have and the value they can gain through working with your organisation.
Personal branding can also improve recruitment. When searching for potential employees, being aware of personal brand can help to discover employees who are the right fit for your business and align with the company mission and values.
How to build and improve your personal brand
Discover who you are as a professional so that you can present this to others
The following are some questions you can ask yourself to do this. It is important to keep updating your answers to these as you are constantly growing and changing so it is useful to update your personal branding to ensure it still fits with who you are and your goals.
- What areas do I excel at?
- What motivates me?
- What characteristics have others complemented me on?
- Which roles make me happiest?
- Which projects have I struggled working on?
- Which roles make me the least happy and drain my energy?
Determine what you want to be known for
Think about your strengths and weaknesses. What do you need to achieve your goals? How do your strengths work with this and what weaknesses do you need to improve on?
Define your audience
It is useful to know who you are trying to reach. This will help you to understand how you need to tell your personal story.
Follow experts in your industry and ask them questions where possible
What are other professionals in your industry doing in terms of personal branding? This can help to inspire ideas for your own personal branding strategy.
Where possible, such as through a direct message online or networking events, it can also be useful to ask other business professionals questions about what they believe has boosted their personal brand.
Prepare a short pitch
Knowing how to summarise who you are and what you do is a personal branding strategy which will come in useful at networking events. It will make you appear more professional and knowledgeable and help you to form better connections.
Keep in mind the importance of growing your professional circle through seeking more opportunities to connect with new industry professionals at formal and informal networking events.
Grow your online presence
As mentioned above, producing content online is key to personal branding. This includes regular posts on social media, engaging with other people’s posts and producing blog posts.
What can you be doing to manage your personal brand on a daily, weekly and monthly basis?
Engage online: connect with social media posts. Consistent activity keeps your channels fresh so that whenever someone views your profile, they can see that you are engaged. Through proactively interacting online, you will form more connections and become better known in your field.
- Post on social media: post regular content on your Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and other relevant social accounts.
- Blog posts:express your viewpoints, show your perspective, expertise and thoughts through regular blog posts
- Follow up emails and messages:if you have recently interacted with someone, worked with them or received a message from them, make sure you follow up on this to strengthen connections with others.
- Google yourself:are you happy with the results?
- Conduct an audit:think about how you have changed – have your values shifted? Have your goals changed?
With the widespread use of social media in the present day, it would be a huge mistake to avoid embracing personal branding. As more and more industry professionals jump on board and start to become aware of their personal brand, there has definitely never been a better time to start working towards improving and enhancing our own personal profiles.