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Personal branding: How to build the brand called 'you'
“Regardless of age, regardless of position, regardless of the business we happen to be in, all of us need to understand the importance of branding. We are CEOs of our own companies: Me Inc. To be in business today, our most important job is to be head marketer for the brand called 'you'.” - Tom Peters.
The concept of personal branding has gained momentum over the past few years for most professionals as the job market becomes more competitive.
But what is a personal brand? Essentially it’s a way for people to know what you’re about through the creation of a cohesive representation of yourself that is portrayed to the world. We all know high profile individuals with a personal brand. Think Oprah Winfrey, Steve Jobs and various public figures and politicians. They have all established an identity in the public realm – their personal brand – that enables others to have a level of understanding about the type of person they are.
Looking beyond the hype, personal branding is an important consideration within the professional context. The pervasiveness of the internet and the flourish of social networking sites has made it essential for any professional with a presence on the internet and networking sites to mould and manage their personal brand.
Why is your personal brand important?
Your personal brand is crucial to firstly build and then grow because it is the image and representation of yourself that others are presented with when they actively seek you in an online environment, as well as the image that you choose to project in face-to-face interactions. Whether we are aware of it or not, all of our activities online – on LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter or Instagram – form an online personal profile that is searchable. And today, more and more employers and recruiters are using the internet to conduct employment background searches, and to gauge an idea of the character and interests of their potential employees.
Actively creating a personal brand for yourself allows you to have a say in how you market yourself and gives you control in crafting an accurate picture of your identity, rather than that happening purely by default. While social networking sites are predominately about engaging in a social environment, it’s wise to view them as platforms on which you can easily start to build your personal brand.
How do I build my personal brand?
Your personal brand needs to be constructed so that it is easily articulated in an online environment, as well as clearly communicated verbally and through behaviours and actions. Because you will ‘live and breathe’ your personal brand, It’s essential that your brand is genuine and a accurate depiction of who you are. So follow these steps:
1. Work out what you’re passionate about
Your personal brand must align with and reflect your likes and interests. What is it that you want to do, and what attributes and qualities express your passion? If you want to be a professional speaker, market yourself as someone with public speaking skills and ambition in your field of expertise.
2. Establish and manage a presence on social networks
Create profiles that reflect your passions on social networking platforms. Maximising your LinkedIn profile to reflect your interests, skills and ambitions is essential. If you are active on Facebook and Twitter, make sure your profile and the information you share on those platforms is consistent with the overarching tone and message of your personal brand.
3. Make a plan for yourself
How will you use your personal brand? Just as any commercial or corporate brand has plans, goals and targets, you should create a development path for yourself that leverages and buoys your personal brand. Start making contacts, decisions and planning career moves that are in line with your brand.
Thinking about your personal brand is particularly important if you are seeking a pay rise, or are considering changing jobs or careers. By creating and shaping your personal brand, you can gain a clearer idea of what you want to achieve, how you need to be perceived to get it, and how you can market the necessary attributes to the relevant audiences.