“Can you describe yourself?”
Yes, this is one of the most common questions in any job interview. But its impact goes beyond the first impression that the recruiter have on you, it also reflects your brand as a whole. If you are unsure of the concept of personal branding, read this article. Once you have identified the “value proposition” that defines your belief(s), it’s time to master the art of communication that helps you convey those values.
Start with a theme
Imagine writing a book, you’d definitely want to pick a theme to base your story around before penning down any word. As with novels, you can think of love, freedom, discovery, and so on, a theme for your personal brand is what people can expect from you (in terms of your expertise) or something that reminds them of you. For example, you can build a brand of “thought leadership” or “entrepreneurial spirit” or simply a “practitioner” in a specific field.
A theme can also be the “product” that you offer – an intangible asset that differentiates you from the rest. You can offer employers your skills or you can offer your readers valuable blog posts, just keep in mind that your theme has to be consistent regardless of the channels that you use to express it.
PS: A theme can change from time to time, depending on your purpose.
Develop your “core value”
Never oversell yourself.
You may have an impressive portfolio under your belt, but bragging about it will only hurt your personal brand. It’s not that people don’t believe in your capability, it’s more about being authentic and relatable. Remember that branding has less to do with self-appraisal and more about communicating what you can actually offer (that’s helped contribute to your success). Instead of claiming that you are the best professional in your field (although it can make an appealing LinkedIn headline), try to specify what makes you special as compared to others.
Look at how the world perceives Apple – it’s not just a smartphone brand, it’s the innovator and leader in the technology industry. Apple doesn’t talk about them as being the best, it makes people believe that it’s the best. How? The only statement that Apple uses to describe itself is “Think Different” ever since its inception, and it’s exactly the driving factor that makes Apple the best at what they do.
Now ask yourself: “What would I want people to think of me whenever my name is mentioned?”.
It’s not easy to control how others perceive you but it’s possible to influence them with your actions. Following the theme that you have chosen for your brand, the next step is to give it a purpose.
So you want to be seen as a talented salesperson? What drives you to pursue a sales career in the first place (besides money, of course)? If you can answer the question, you know that have had most parts of your brand figured out. Be it to build your professional network, to bring innovations to the consumer’s hands, or simply to connect corporations with the public, your purpose is the compass of your core value.
Put them together
In essence, personal branding is a life-long journey to discover yourself. At different stages of life, you’ll have different perspectives on a certain thing. While it’s not realistic to keep the same mindset despite the passage of time, it doesn’t mean that you can’t maintain your brand through all those changes.
Once again, let’s learn from the famous advertising statement that is inseparable from Apple’s identity. Even after decades in the business and countless of remarkable products, its slogan never changed. It’s simply because “Think Different” is the ultimate principle that helps Apple build a consistent reputation as one of the most innovative companies in the world.
With that said, the second most important element that helps your brand shine is your credibility. When it comes to building a personal brand through verbal communication, you must speak with depth and show commitment to your brand. The simplest way to do so is to share content that can speak for you, either curated on your own or shared from others. Recall the recent conversations that you have with someone at work, if you find yourself perpetually complain about the higher up, you’ll only impose a negative reputation on your personal brand. However, if your topics of discussions often revolve around the industry, such as latest innovations or trending news, you’ll more likely earn credibility.
Just notice how people address another colleague in a conversation at the workplace, it often has something to do with their expertise. For example: “Have you consulted with John – the IT guru about your computer issues?”. As people tend to refer to you by your profession or expertise, especially in the working environment, you have to be the one to cultivate the desired image for yourself.
The point is, however you want to communicate your personal brand, you must first determine what you want to be known for professionally. Knowledge and purpose (as defined previously) are the core components that help you draw a distinction between you and your peers and eventually build a consistent brand of YOU.
So tell us, how do you describe yourself?