Most of us (professionals) are familiar with the term “branding” as a part of marketing and advertising in business. But how about “personal branding”? Why do individuals, especially job seekers, need to put more focus on branding themselves in the labour market?
We’ll discuss the WHAT, WHY and HOW of personal branding in this article.
Personal branding is not about fame
Unlike the purpose of business branding, which is to build brand awareness, personal branding is all about the perception that people have of you. Whether you are at the top management level or a college student, you need a positive personal brand to navigate a successful career. It’s not your background that matters but more about your inner self, why you do what you do and what makes you different. If you are unable to recognise your own brand attributes and values, no one else can. So those who don’t know you will make assumptions of who you are based on the impression that you give them. In other words, your personal brand reflects the reaction and/or sensation that people have when they are in contact with you, either directly or indirectly.
Therefore, you need to market yourself the way you want people to perceive you. Are you curious about what people think of you or what do they talk about when you are not there? That’s where personal brand comes in. That’s your voice and your identification, something that resonates when your name is mentioned, just like how we associate Apple with innovative and premium products.
You are a business of one, you need to have a vision and mission before launching a career. The concept of personal branding was incorporated all the way back in 1997 in an article by Tom Peters. Today, in the booming state of social media, everyone can and should incorporate their identity and aspiration to cultivate a personal brand. First to land the right career and second, to progress as your brand evolves.
We often forget about ourselves and our stories when it comes to job applications. That’s the only obstacle standing between us and our dream jobs because a (good) resume is not enough to represent who we are. Only those who manage to create and showcase their personal brands will stand out in front of the recruiters. And you can’t fake it. Your personal brand is not a single statement that you put on a resume or on a LinkedIn profile, it has to be built from time to time throughout your entire career.
Why does personal branding matter anyway?
In this day and age, career advancement no longer follows a single trajectory. You have to define a career path that best fits you in order to work your way towards the end-goal, rather than relying on your bosses to give you a promotion and keep changing jobs if you fail to achieve one. When you decide on your brand attributes, you essentially figure out who you aspire to be in the future, both professionally and personally. From there, you can be more proactive in your job or in the case of job hunting, you’ll be more likely to land the job that will make you love Mondays. By expressing yourself through a consistent personal brand, you’ll also enable employers to assess your cultural fit, therefore making the hiring decision more efficiently.
To sum up, personal branding goes hand in hand with your career success. It’s the only channel where people can get to truly understand who you are, what are your goals, your uniqueness, your strength, and your values. Your brand, or reputation, will also make an impact on your company’s success in the long run.
The building blocks of a personal brand
So it’s clear that branding is crucial to any individual, here’s how you can actually build and manage a brand personal brand that will give your career a boost.
Your unique traits
You know who you are and what you want, but not all people understand you the same way. Communication is key to connecting with others, especially to position yourself as a unique individual. There are millions of those who share the same talent, the same profession, the same interests and even the same career path with you, but there must be at least one characteristic that sets you apart from the crowd. Creating a personal brand is a journey to explore and unveil the very character that makes you different.
What would you think when you come across a LinkedIn profile that reads “Top Sales of 2017 at ABC company”? That the person must be successful? Yes, but that’s it. How about a profile that reads “B2B business consultant with a mission to make your company generate 2x more leads.”? In this line, it’s clear that the person’s goal is to help other businesses thrive and he or she genuinely cares about the organisation’s success. Both statements are catchy, but the latter indeed speaks volumes about the person’s professionalism and his or her career dedication.
When you draft a career plan, don’t just focus on the destination. It’s more important to find the intention in whatever you do, people can tell if you are being authentic. Whether it’s the job that you claim your passion or the product that you sell, make sure that your brand interprets your values or belief consistently. That’s the major quality that differentiates you among others.
Your communication channels
Once you have figured out your personal brand’s principles and values, the next exciting step is to bring it to life. Remember, social media presence can only do so much to marker your brand, you need to be where your audience is to reach to the right people as well as to let people find you for the right purpose.
Start off with LinkedIn, simply because it’s the world’s largest networking site for professionals. It’s where you can get a better insight into the industry that you’re in and contribute your voice to stay top of mind as you advance in the line. A rule of thumb is to bring values to others even though personal branding is technically self-promotion. Because people work with you based on a foundation of trust, there’s no point bragging about yourself without emphasising on what can be expected of you. LinkedIn offers community discussions and the publishing power to help you do just that – to build connection and authority.
Also Read: 15 Mistakes You’re Making on LinkedIn
Another thing that you can do to add more depth in your personal brand is creating a website. You don’t need to know coding to build a simple web page or a blog. Think of it as a virtual resume where you can showcase more than just a line or two regarding your professional background. It serves as a comprehensive portfolio that you can present along with a traditional application when you apply for jobs. It’s also your own estate where people can look into when they want to learn more about you.
Some of the best platforms for creating stunning personal websites include:
Do pay attention to what you share on these channels as well because, well, branding doesn’t work without a good story. In need of some inspirations? Stay tuned for our next article covering the topic of effective communication for personal branding.