‘Personal brand’ – a buzzword that’s mentioned often, and we’re all supposed to agree that it’s important to build a strong one. But for many of us, the idea of marketing ourselves to others is not only unappealing, it’s something we’re not sure how to do without coming across as pretentious.
In reality, it’s a worthwhile exercise that can get you where you need to go.
Why do you need a personal brand? And what is it exactly?
Think about it this way – why does a company want to build a good brand? Because people will trust it. Trust means people turn to it when they need it, and are more willing to listen to what it has to say. A trusted brand sells more products than the competition.
It’s the same with your personal brand. Whether you’re dreaming of a career in a different industry, or wanting to take the next step in your current field, your personal brand is your unique selling point. It’s what sets you apart from your competition, and makes people trust you, or not. A strong personal brand will ultimately make people want to hire or do business with you.
While this might make it sound like branding is something that only relates to huge businesses, senior corporates or sales people, a personal brand is actually something you already have. It’s really about what makes you unique, and the value you have to offer.
Your personal brand is synonymous with your reputation, your image, your online presence – all the factors that contribute to how you are perceived by others.
How do you build a strong personal brand without feeling fake?
The good news here is that a strong personal brand isn’t built on your ability to push a hard sell – it’s built on a foundation of integrity, authenticity and trustworthiness. If you’re trying to be someone you’re not, you’re doing it wrong. People will see through the fakery anyway, and then your credibility is lost.
It starts with self-awareness, so ask yourself these questions:
Where does my passion lie? What do I want to be known for? What are my career goals?
Once you’re feeling confident that you know who you are and where you’d like to go, it’s time for some honest self-assessment to work out how you’re going to get there. Now you can ask yourself:
What’s helping me right now, and what’s hindering me? What aspects of my performance, education and/or experience might need further development? What do I have that others need/is of value to others?
What the answers tell you
The answers to these questions will influence the way you interact with, and are perceived by, those around you – colleagues, industry connections, potential employers and business partners. Knowing yourself is key, as your personal brand then becomes less about promoting or selling yourself, and more about defining and communicating your value to these people.
Your value is built on the basics, like ensuring you’re always trustworthy and honest in your dealings with others, showing people they can rely on you, and keeping your training and knowledge of your field up to date. These factors contribute to a solid reputation as someone that others want to be around. A strong personal brand comes from combining these behaviours with the answers to the questions above.
This equation from Dr Hubert Rampersad, author of Effective Personal and Company Brand Management: A New Blueprint for Powerful and Authentic Personal and Company Branding, sums it up:
No vision + no self-knowledge + no self-learning + no thinking + no mindset change + no integrity + no happiness + no passion + no sharing + no trust + no love = no authentic Personal Branding
Are you thinking about developing your personal brand with postgraduate study? Get in touch to discuss your options.
Image: Laptop by Unsplash