You might think that brands are only for big companies, but it’s a large part of being a successful in today’s workplace.
What is a Personal Brand?
Personal branding is what other people know you for — who you are, what you have accomplished and how you do your job. Everybody has their own personal brand, even if you may not be aware of it. For example you might be known in the office as the social media guru or the business-to-consumer (B2C) lead generation problem solver. Often your colleagues’ impressions of you becomes your brand. The key to success is consciously managing and shaping your personal brand and this requires time, effort and careful planning.
“It’s the image and/or representation of yourself that others see when they have face-to-face interactions with you as well as when they seek you online,” says Rebecca Gloyne, Head of Employer Branding for PepsiCo.
Why You Need It
You’ve been getting along fine so far in your career progression and with your colleagues and clients— so do you still need to work on your personal brand? Yes, says Rebecca. Just as it’s important for companies to position themselves properly, the same goes for individuals.
According to Rebecca, personal branding helps people become more conscious of their strengths, weaknesses and what makes them unique, driving character development. It’s also especially important in today’s professional context because of the pervasiveness of the internet and various social media platforms. “With the internet and social media such as LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook, we form online personal profiles that are searchable. By creating and managing these profiles properly, you are in control of how you market yourself, giving people a more accurate portrait of your identity. Building your personal brand requires strategically, creatively and professionally presenting what makes you, you.” Social media platforms such as LinkedIn do ask you to include a line on your personal brand so make use of it to make a positive impact on potential recruiters. Do the same on other platforms such as Skype and if you have your personal website.
A large part of personal branding is managing your social media profiles on the various social networking sites. You don’t want to be judged by comments you made jokingly on your friend’s public post or photos of you partying that you posted when you had actually reported sick. “[With personal branding], instead of leaving things to chance, you are in greater control of how you market yourself which helps craft a more accurate picture of your identity,” adds Rebecca.
A compelling personal brand, she says, helps you build credibility amongst your colleagues and employers as well as your peers, and is necessary in today’s competitive work environment. It also builds confidence. “A personal brand will keep evolving and developing, and building it properly should help yield benefits in your career,” she says.
Personal Branding and the Experienced Professional
If you are an older mid-career professional, then it’s important to showcase how your skills have achieved business objectives on your social media profiles, particularly on LinkedIn which is a professional networking site. Include tangible outcomes — for example, if you are a business development manager, then highlight how your strategies and plans have helped your employers or client increase their profits.
Your personal brand should emphasize your experience and how your skills can benefit the company. Make sure that this ties in with your resume and CV — consistency is an important aspect of branding.
Personal branding can come in handy in debunking some of the stereotypes about older jobseekers, such as that they are not tech-savvy. Showcase your industry know-how, such as proficiency in the latest design software if you are from the Creative industry — for example, ‘”industry-accredited software designer for award-winning creative agencies”. If you upskill yourself by taking some professional courses, you can list them on your social media profiles as well as in your CV. Building up your social media skills on business social platforms such as LinkedIn is also an important part of personal branding; it will help develop your personal brand while keeping you connected to the right people.
An example of winning LinkedIn profiles include creative statements such as a sales professional’s statement saying “I love to solve problems.” To make this even more engaging follow this up with examples of this from your career, highlight your skills and describe a few of your interests such as topics of discussion you like.
Do New Job Entrants Need a Personal Brand?
Absolutely. If you are job hunting for the first time or have just secured a new job, you most likely don’t have a strong personal brand on a professional basis yet. However, you can begin promoting your brand by highlighting your internships or any skills you have picked up doing part-time jobs or even through volunteer work. Showing your potential employers or your new boss that you have acquired skills from different sources, rather than just your books, is a good thing. Your hobbies or interests such as charity work, writing a blog or music are also good ways of demonstrating your brand and who you are.