Everyone needs a strong personal brand. The one where you walk into the networking event, your office or a boardroom and people have opinions of all the correct things about you. Ironically, whether you’re aware of it or not, you have a personal brand at your place of work. It’s out there, that has been created by default, and likely impacting your career. The people you work with have developed their personal thoughts, judgements, and perceptions about who you are, what you’re best at, and possibly even what you’re not best at. They perceive you a certain way. In sum, they have BRANDED YOU in their own minds. Have you allowed others to define your reputation? Did you know personal branding, or the act of creating a distinct professional reputation for yourself, can be a powerful tool in advancing your career within an organisational context. If NOT, discover the more subtle things at work that contribute most to developing a great personal brand. How? Well, in this blog post we’ll provide 5 key ways to craft your brand you at work, 3 E’s of personal branding along with why it is so significant to have one. So, let’s commence…
Why is Personal Branding Important to Have?
The world of work is very competitive and what will make you stick out from your peers to be well positioned for growth opportunities is your personal brand. Just as a business defines its “unique selling points” to distinguish itself from competitors, you also need to identify what makes you different from your competitors. But how? Through personal branding, “Of course!”
Since it is a way of establishing and consistently reinforcing who you are and what you stand for in your career and life.
When done properly, personal branding can lead to the following top 5 benefits:
- More interviews
- Better job offers
- Influencer engagements
3 E’s of Personal Branding
There are three factors that go towards creating a personal brand:
At the core of the professional’s personal brand is his or her area of expertise. Few of us may be skilled in marketing, others in brain surgery, and yet others in manufacturing. We develop these skills over the years, and at any point in our careers, we have already gathered a set of skills through learning and experience — which comprises our expertise.
The deeper we develop these skills, the more our expertise will be respected, and pursued after, by our organisations and colleagues. Your personal brand will then encircle around your expertise as a data scientist, or consumer marketer, or Finance Professor. To develop this attribute, we need to continuously hone our skills in at least one key area, and do everything we can to eventually attain mastery in this subject of choice.
Some versatile professionals can also consider building expertise in multiple area.
Expertise alone is not enough in crafting a personal brand.
What is your desired form of expression, by which your expertise is relayed to your colleagues?
Are you, by nature, a woman or man of detail? Or, on the other hand, are you a big picture person, who would instead not be obsessing about all small details?
Are you a problem solver, who derives fulfilment from continuously evolving solutions to issues? Or are you a lateral thinker, who relishes producing new ideas all the time?
Are you a data-centred analyst, left-brained, or are you a right-brained storyteller who thinks and talks visually each time?
These are all alternate modes of expression, which emphasise what requirement you are most likely to fulfil within your team, and thus will feed into your personal brand.
Another factor that contributes to building a personal brand is the primary set of emotions associated with the professional. Few people are serious and matter-of-fact in their dealings. Few others are continuously critical and relish being in fault-finding mode.
And then there are people who consistently radiate positivity, even as they are objectively vital where required. There are few professionals who are composed and calm at all times, and others who are prone to temper tantrums and mood-swings. Your primary set of emotions add on to your personal brand image, creating a third dimension that is very divergent from both expression and expertise.
You want to be aware of the emotions you are radiating each day to your colleagues, and also which of these you would like to further change or strengthen.
#1 – Be known for something
Decide what you want to be known for. Think of one or two skills that you perceive can become your unique value proposition.
#2 – Identify platforms to showcase your brand
When you know the brand you are trying to push, finds different “podiums” to showcase it. Some brand-raising podiums involve: putting your hand up for high profile assignments, asking to present at a team meeting, volunteering to speak at events like industry conferences, or sharing thought leadership pieces with colleagues. Get included in events, meetings or projects where there may be skip-level leaders (people the level over your manager) as an audience.
#3 – Take your brand across the organisation
Don’t focus only on crafting your brand in your department. It’s significant to network across the organisation and make sure you have cross-functional “clout” as well. Ensure managers in other departments know you. Make an effort to talk to them casually about the work they are doing. If another department is struggling with something, see if you can assist in the time you have to spare. Just make sure you do not comprise delivery in your present role to impress other managers.
#4 – Create brand supporters
One way to get your brand out there is assisting others at every level of the company, involving peers and juniors. It is a great way to develop relationships while gaining or showcasing skills. For instance, assist an intern struggling with a specific task, or offer to relieve an overwhelmed colleague with few of their duties. This way, you create evangelists across all levels.
#5 – Promote yourself and others!
Like many people, you may feel awkward “tooting your own horn”. A trick is to do it in a way that also credits other people’s contributions. This way, the story does not appear to be only about you. Example: It was really amazing winning the employee of the year award, however this was made possible due to the supportive team within my department and our manager who always pushes us to do our best.
Doing so requires a considerable amount of work, however here are some examples of the well-known successfully built personal brands out there:
- Neil Patel
Neil Patel is a world-renowned digital marketing expert. Neil is the co-founder of Crazy Egg, KISSmetrics, Quick Sprout, Hello Bar and, most significantly to our topic here of personal brand examples, Neil Patel Digital.
If you take a look at Neil Patel’s blog, you’ll notice that almost every blog post has 200+ comments. More vitally, you’ll observe that Neil responds to almost all the single comments, which is something his audience really appreciates. Neil’s close interaction with his audience adds extra credibility to what he does and assists build his personal brand image.
- Elon Musk
Elon Musk’s Tesla has become one of the most usually mentioned car brands on social media. The reason for that isn’t lying in their top-notch advertising (in fact, they hardly do any advertising at all), but in their CEO’s obsession for social media. The fact is that Elon Musk just loves becoming personal on social media.
Most big brand CEOs are still quite uncertain when it comes to utilising social media to build a personal brand image. That’s perhaps because they need to take special care when posting to social media in order to avoid damaging their reputation of the company.
Elon Musk is the exception here, of course. In fact, that’s what makes him one of the examples best for a personal brand. I would dare say that his public popularity has contributed to the company as well as the brand more than any money they spent on marketing advertising.
- Oprah Winfrey
Regarded as the queen of personal branding, Oprah Winfrey has leveraged her brand to accomplish her dream life, get paid, and become a billionaire. The Oprah Winfrey Show in its 25 years of airing in history is the highest-rated talk show program. She is also one of the most influential and richest women in the world.
Oprah’s branding is all about being authentic, hence gravitating people toward her. She utilises her brand to influence people’s actions and make them change for the better. It’s easier to build trust since people see her act a particular way consistently and intentionally.
Takeaway: Personal Branding Lesson for How to Start Your Own Brand Online
When assessing how to start your own brand online, ask yourself questions such as:
Q: Who are you?
Q: What makes you unique?
Q: What is your vision for your personal brand?
Q: Who is your audience? How can you help them?
Q: What’s your X Factor? What makes you reliable? Trustworthy?
Q: How do you prove that? What’s the evidence?
Before you start building your personal brand, think about your short and long-term goals for your personal branding strategy and gather any supporting materials that can reinforce them.
Having a great personal brand at your workplace leaves an impact on senior leaders about your ability to progress and gives you access to the growth opportunities (further your career) within the company. Before building your brand, remember you first need to define it and the key to defining a brand that sticks is to ensure that you are consistent.