Updated: Nov 2
You may have heard people talk about personal branding before.
Maybe you’ve wondered how it could apply to you, or perhaps you’ve dismissed it as business jargon you’re just not interested in.
After all, many of us progress well enough in our careers without ever giving our brand a thought.
But what if taking a strategic view to your personal brand could lead to greater impact and a higher degree of career success?
What if having a considered personal brand could help you land that job offer or secure the promotion you really want? Surely it would make sense to find out more.
Indeed, there’s a growing view that if you want to get ahead at work, it’s essential you have a clear brand and use it to positively market yourself.
So, what is a personal brand?
Personal branding is a way of showing, in a consistent way, who you are and what you stand for.
We all have a personal brand. It’s what makes you unique. Your brand is made up of your values, your skills, and experiences, how you look and sound, how you communicate and the impact you have on others. Jeff Bezos, the Amazon founder once described a personal brand as being “what people say about you when you’re not in the room”.
If you’re not sure what your current brand is, take some time to reflect objectively on what you’re about, consider:
What are your values?
What skills do you possess?
What experiences have brought you to where you are today?
How do you look and dress?
How do you communicate?
How do you make others feel?
It’s also worth asking your friends and colleagues for their thoughts.
Now, in an ideal world, people’s perceptions of you (and your brand) would match your own but unfortunately, that’s not always the case.
Think about a time when you’ve been surprised by feedback from a boss or colleague that felt mismatched to your own perception. The chances are that when interacting with that person, you’ve been displaying characteristics that are ‘off brand’.
It’s also possible that your current personal brand, while right for the job you currently do, is holding you back in terms of your career goals or future aspirations. As an HR professional, I’ve been in many meetings where perfectly capable people have been described as competent but not right for a more senior role based on how they are currently presenting themselves. If these people knew they were being judged in this way, wouldn’t they want to refine their brand?
For this reason, it’s important to seek feedback and be mindful of how you come across to different people, and to take control of your brand by defining it appropriately and then applying it consistently.
Through your brand identity, you can boost your profile and differentiate yourself from others.
How can I take control of my brand?
For a personal brand to be powerful, it must be authentic. It must be truthful and honest to you and your values.
There’s no point in creating a brand that’s fake or insincere because people will see through it, and you’ll fail to build the trust which is so fundamental to successful relationships.
When defining your brand, consider what your future career goals are, what you would like to achieve, and then create your brand identity around this. Give thought to the skills and values you’d like to be known for.
Using the feedback you’ve received, establish if there are any obvious gaps that you need to address in the way you present yourself.
Check out colleagues you admire or whose roles you aspire to and identify what sets them apart. How do they behave or interact with people? How do people perceive them?
Visualise how you want people to see you and consider where appropriate:
How can you refine your image, so others see you as someone with potential?
The way you look, or dress - can you tweak things, so you look the part for the job you aspire to?
Does your online presence reflect your new brand? Is your online image or content professional?
What about broadening your network, so that you are associating with the right people?
Can you get involved in projects that will diversify your skills or help strengthen your desired brand identity?
What about developing your presentation skills so you can raise your visibility or be seen as a thought leader?
Whatever you do to build a personal brand that’s right for you, do it seriously. Recognise the power your brand can give you to proactively drive your career.
Personal branding takes time to develop, and yours will no doubt evolve over time, but if done properly and consistently, your brand is a powerful tool that will allow you to differentiate yourself and stand out from the crowd, pushing you forward in the career direction you want.
Sian Morgan is a career coach and senior HR professional. If you would like to learn more about developing your personal brand or would like to explore 121 career coaching, get in touch at email@example.com or take a look at www.bloomscoaching.com