Then you need to tighten up your personal brand. “But I’m a person, not a brand!” we hear you cry.
Don’t worry - this isn’t about reducing yourself down to a few slogans and buzzwords. Far from it: It’s about refining the way you present yourself to the world, within a coherent and compelling career narrative.
A clear narrative communicates your values, beliefs, and ideals. It determines people’s expectations of how you will perform in - and what you will bring to - the situations you may encounter in your professional life. Take a look at this photo for a personal branding example:
You probably have a pretty solid idea of Mr Cameron’s politics. You can easily imagine how he’d carry himself on the world stage, and the ideas he’d bring to the table?
Yet - most probably - you’ve never spoken to him, met him, or even been in the same room as him. You probably have no idea what he’s really like at home, when he sits down to dinner with Samantha, behind closed doors. That’s because your frame of reference for how Dave behaves comes from his public - and very deliberately crafted - brand.
Getting your personal branding right is vital
They say you can’t make a second first impression. An expertly packaged personal brand empowers you to make the right one. It will encapsulate your experience, skills, talents, and personality, letting you communicate with impact and influence.
Gone are the days where personal branding was limited to politicians, celebrities, and other leaders. Now, with the advent of social media, everybody has a personal brand. Will you step up to the plate and make it work hard for you?
Will you make yourself noticeable and memorable for the reasons you want to be? Answering yes will open up a world of career rewards. Rather than drifting lazily along, you will curate and cultivate how the people around you perceive you.
Answering yes will empower you to win over those around you by being consistent with your values. This, in turn, will pave the way for you taking decisive steps toward your goals and achieving your career vision.
A well-crafted personal brand will distinguish you from others and give you a competitive edge. Imagine two candidates with similar skill sets but very different personal branding: The candidate perceived as being a better fit will often take the role - and it’s their personal brand that communicates this.
Within an organisation, a reliable brand lends you clout. It contributes to the success of ideas you pitch. It can help your chances when putting yourself forward for promotion. It can even go toward attracting investors to the business. So if you’re still wondering about the importance of personal branding: It’s massive.
Taking charge of your personal brand
First, you need to understand what a highly effective brand is made off. This knowledge will let you take action from a highly motivating vantage point.
- Identifying your personal brand archetype.
- Identifying your core values and using these to build your brand.
- Clarifying how your brand will support your short and long term career objectives.
- Analysing your presentation and communication style to ensure effective communication of your brand.
- Crafting and clarifying your professional narrative.
- Creating your highly compelling elevator pitch.
- Analysing of your online presence.
Here’s how to do it.
Identify your personal brand archetype
Carl Jung is the granddaddy of psychology, and his idea of personality archetypes holds strong today, decades after it originally appeared.
The idea is this: Humanity’s collective unconsciousness features recurring fundamental motifs, and each of us aligns with one or more of twelve commonly occurring personalities.
Read more about the archetypes here.
Your archetype reveals the elements you excel at. It shows where your passions lie. And identifying it early on in the personal branding process lets you bake a robust conceptual core into the centre of your brand.
Identify your core values
The strongest personal brands have values at their core. They look forward to what you will achieve, rather than backward at where you came from. Spending time on this stage will pay dividends later on. Authenticity is paramount.
You are passionate. You have your philosophy, and the ideas it gives rise to are part of what makes you stand out. What you bring to your industry is unique. These are the things that should shine through to your branding. People don’t want a list of what you’ve done - for that they can read your CV. Instead, they want to understand your story.
Think about how your responsibilities, experiences, achievements, education, and vision fit together, and how to package this.
Clarifying how your brand will support your career objectives
It’s essential to understand how your brand will assist you in achieving your career objectives, both in the short and long term. Building a brand isn’t just an exercise that career coaches do with their clients. Instead, it’s a process that ties together your experience, your current situation, your skills, and your vision. With this done, you are much better equipped to deal with the future. You are not drifting through a career, being buffeted by chance happenings. Instead, you are curating a journey on your terms.
An understanding of where you want to be in the future will strengthen your personal brand, and in turn, a stronger personal brand will help you to get to the future you want.
Analyse your presentation and communication style
Your personal brand must be effectively communicated.
Remember what a brand is not: It’s not an opportunity to show off, to brag, or to belittle others. Nor is the desired outcome to give you an ego boost. Instead, it is a deliberate and ongoing cultivation of your personal image, with reference to clearly defined and communicated values and vision.
Building a personal brand requires an understanding of your presentation and communication style so that the narrative you craft will best play to your strengths. Your personal brand is your story. To be effective, it must be engaging and captivating, and compelling enough that people want to learn more about you, to follow you, and to share in your success.
Craft and clarify your professional narrative.
Your personal brand message must be strong, consistent, and authentic. Authenticity is key to who we are in business, and a brand built around this will be highly effective.
Aligning your online presence with your real personality, values, and beliefs is a way to build authenticity. Sticking to this tone of voice - and speaking on the same topics - is a way to create consistency. Both of these things will strengthen your brand immeasurably.
The biggest brands have brand guidelines for a reason: They want everything associated with their name to be clear and consistent. When this is the case, reinforcing the brand becomes more natural, and peoples’ expectations become more predictable and easy to manage.
Create your highly compelling elevator pitch.
This pitch is a short version of your career narrative. Punchy enough to be compelling and inviting, and intriguing enough to encourage further questions without sounding cheesy.
Crafting the perfect pitch is a delicate task, but the rewards are massive. Not only is it a hook to capture people’s interest - it’s a way for you to refine your ideas, your goals, and your vision. Being able to recite your elevator pitch relies on believing in it confidently.
Analyse and optimise your online presence.
With a brand, you are memorable for the reasons you to be. In an increasingly digital world, the way you interface with people on digital platforms and social media needs to be just as refined and polished as in real life.
These days, “content” is a broad net. You can write blog posts and magazine articles, sure, but you can also upload videos of keynote speeches to Vimeo, or serialise your years’ of experience as an industry podcast. You can give people an insight into your life “behind closed doors” with an Instagram feed, just as quickly as you can involve yourself in as many industry conversations as you like via Twitter.
Using the right media to demonstrate your clout, and remaining active in relevant conversations, is a great way to develop, refine, and showcase new ideas, while also strengthening your personal brand.
Hire a professional career coach
We deliver these benefits to our clients every day. We provide highly tailored and bespoke personal branding advice based on our work with hundreds of clients. We’ve worked with everyone from newly graduated students to PhD graduates, and from entrepreneurs to established business leaders.
By using our tried and tested methods, we will clarify your brand and put you in the position to propel yourself forward along the career trajectory you deserve.
Building a personal brand will help you to position yourself within an industry. It will change how people perceive you, and you have a lot of influence on how your brand will look.
By understanding what a personal brand is, and the tools available to you for building one, you can maximise the likelihood of success. A brand will build by itself over time, so you might as well try to curate it in a way that is favourable to your passion, goals, and vision.
This reputation will carry out into the real world and will bring you tons of professional benefits.