Personal Branding is a lot like Bikram Yoga. It ignites curiosity, at times confusion, and lets face it, makes most people uncomfortable. But with a little dedication, a lot of effort and some sweat, it might just change your life…
In today’s ever-fluid job market the average person stays in a role for 4.4 years (half that for Gen Y)* meaning very few of us are in line for the gold watch. Making meaningful networks and marketability, through personal branding, more critical than ever before.
So what exactly is a personal brand?
Simply put: Your personal brand is your calling card. It is your unique skills, your background, work-experience/education, your values and other intangible personal assets.
The act of personal brand-ing is about defining these assets and then building on them. To use marketing speak - it’s learning how to ‘package’ yourself. It’s about bringing who you are to what you do and how you do it.
And when it comes to personal branding, it’s the doing that’s the most critical. Spending your energy on being seen as an expert without being particularly proficient in your chosen field is about as empty as the calories in a can of coke.
One of the better known quotes on personal branding, that it “is what people say about you when you leave the room” from Amazon Founder Jeff Bezos, only goes part of the way of explaining what a personal brand can actually do for your career.
To build a strong personal brand that will help your career you need to do a little soul searching. No candles required for this introspection, but you need to ask yourself why it is you do what you do. To paraphrase leadership expert and TED superstar Simon Sinek, your ‘why’ forms the basis of everything you do. It’s why we will listen to you - why we will buy from you. It’s your passion.
For example, a recent client of ours was an Marketing Account Manager at an ASX listed company. In her personal time, she was a passionate campaigner against climate change, had completed two fundraising trips to Cambodia for charity and had an environmental science degree she had never used. In one of our personal branding workshops we were able to help her articulate this (in a written profile for LinkedIn, through blogging and in her networks). When a role came up in her companies Corporate Social Responsibility department she was ready and got the job. She’s now a greater asset to her company, loves her work and genuinely feels like she is making a difference.
However, personal branding is not just about positioning yourself for a career move. Most critically - it’s about being an ambassador for your company. With the explosion of social media you can listen and speak for the company brand and you can represent them in so much you do. This is how you can truly add value to your team, your company and become the asset they can’t afford to lose.
THREE NAKED WAYS TO IMPROVE YOUR PERSONAL BRAND TODAY
Remember: If it matters, it flatters: Spending some time articulating what really matters to you, ‘your why’, will help you get clearer on what your personal brand is about and where you want to go in your career. And if the people around you know what you want, they can advocate for you. Your boss, your housemate, your next door neighbour can all be powerful voices for your advancement if they know what you are about and where you want to go.
Think: Online + Offline = Front of Mind: Social media presents a huge opportunity to shape your brand and build your career. Get your LinkedIn profile sorted. Today. And make sure it has a great photo. Profiles with photos are 11x more likely to be viewed. Which means you can attract more sales / more offers / more opportunities - whatever your career soul seeks.
Do: Don’t forget it’s all about action. Your personal brand is who you are and what you do. Always be thinking about how you can offer value. So send an interesting article to your boss, start that blog, go to that talks event (better yet organise that event!)
*Source: 2013 US Labour Bureau of Statistics