In today’s business world you hear a lot about brands and brand management.
Most of the world’s largest corporations take great pains to develop a brand position and present it to the stakeholders.
They protect it diligently and manage their reputation through marketing, sales, and training programs that keep everyone in line with the vision the company wishes to project.
Did you know you can also have a personal brand that could be just as important to you and your career?
A strong brand can get you recognized as an eager newcomer to your profession, an industry expert, or even a talented leader. A weak brand, on the other hand, can actually do damage to your professional aspirations.
A personal brand is something that can be found online, but it is also reflected in the actions you take each and every day. Each time you are in a business meeting, participate in a conference, attend a networking reception or other non-business event, you have a chance to make a statement about your personal brand.
You need to be very careful about what others perceive about you, and what you want others to think about your capabilities. All these one-on-one interactions can be compared to an employment interview, where you want to create and control the perception that is created about you. In these cases, of course, the difference is that you are being evaluated by your superiors, co-workers, or potential customers.
They want to get an understanding of the type of person you are so they can determine whether it benefits them to move in the same business and social circles as you do. People who know how to live and handle their personal brand will be able to earn the respect of others in almost any situation.
Can you control how your personal brand is developed and presented? In fact, you can. There are several actions you can take to control how the “business of you” is presented both in-person and online. Developing a personal brand can be a vital step for the advancement of your career and also for your development as a leader.
Steps to Take in the Creation of a Personal Brand
Everyone is different is some way – personality, work ethic, value system, or job skills. The idea of developing a personal brand is to partially codify these characteristics into a unique type that offers benefits to an employer or demonstrates leadership to a work team. This uniqueness then has to be narrowed down to demonstrable acts and statements, communicated in some way, reinforced and built up, and monitored for any negative possibilities. Here are some steps you can take in creating a personal brand that will help advance your career or build your leadership credentials:
- Think about what you want your brand to be: It might seem somewhat easier to come up with a brand image for a product or service, but it can also be accomplished for people. What is your vision of who you are? What do you have to offer? Are you skilled in certain areas, adept at particular management techniques, or good in one-on-one or training situations? Part of this step also involves acknowledging what you do not like doing, so you can focus more on your particular areas of interest. It is possible that you might not currently be everything that your brand statement conveys, but you can certainly build towards fulfilling your brand as a personal goal.
- Apply yourself to becoming your brand statement: Once you know what you want to be, do a self-analysis and determine how closely you match what your brand says about you. If there are some ways in which you are lacking, then you can take classes, work with another team member, or find a mentor who can help you move to the next level. List out the skills necessary to be your brand, and then find out what you need to do to acquire those skills. Find the one thing that makes you stand out above all others and develop a laser focus on that area.
- Be your brand: Mentally commit yourself to being your brand in each and every work-related activity. If your brand is that you are a thoughtful, listening supervisor, you will then have to carry that out in your day-to-day interactions with others on your work team. If your brand is that you are an expert in a particular field or have a certain skill, then do everything you can to hone that skill and let others know about it.
- Build your brand: Take a look at your online presence to see if it truly reflects the brand you are presenting to your work world. It is far too easy to intermingle your work and personal lives online, so try not to do anything in your personal online communications that will tarnish your professional online presence. If you must have a personal area for commenting or joking with friends, use a name or nickname that is entirely different from your work persona. For your business presence, you will want to consider having a personal website to build your brand, a Facebook page, and a professional LinkedIn profile. Be able to describe yourself in a few short sentences, and define what sets you apart from others in your profession. If business superiors or subordinates search for information about you online, they should only be able to find positive feedback.
- Share your brand: If you are trying to achieve career advancement through your personal brand strategy, there will come a time when it benefits you to share information about your insights and expertise. You might want to write a blog to post on your website or Facebook page, or you could make a short video to explain or demonstrate a particular point. Become a thought leader by providing new insights or a contrary analysis to an accepted point of view. You could add experiences to other articles about your industry, or comment on trade association social media pages to start getting your name known by more industry professionals. Instead of just being online, get involved online. This leads to becoming a solid and respected member of an influential online community. All of this would be provided with the expectation of receiving nothing in return, except the comfort of knowing that people who Google your name will definitely find powerful information from and about you.
- Monitor and nurture your brand: Just as corporations have to take care of their brand reputation, you will have to do some search marketing with your personal brand. When others look for information online about you for any reason, they should be able to find something and it should be positive. This is called reputation management. Google or search your own name every so often to see if there are any negative items you need to address. If there are negative or unprofessional remarks on your personal social media sites, take them down or address them privately. Don’t engage in rude or public discourse with those who are trying to harm your reputation.
- Pursue your targets: If you have your sights set on a particular job, company, or professional association, find out what is involved in reaching those goals. Look for social media or corporate information about or from influential individuals. Comment on articles they publish or add insights to their social media posts. Send links to your posts that might help expand on a particular discussion. It might not land you a particular job at this point, but it will definitely start opening doors for the future.
The Many Benefits of Personal Brand Management
You might not be a huge international corporation, but that should not stop you from creating your own personal brand. Your reputation and your brand are things that only you can create and control. Nobody else can give you a brand, and nobody should ever be able to take it away from you either. With the online communication world being so wide open today, your brand can follow you for your entire business career, especially if you are just starting to make your dent in a given profession. If you are already well along your career path, putting some work into brand management might lead to a better job, increased recognition within your career field, or better clients if you want to stay with your existing company.
Building a personal brand may take a considerable amount of time and effort, but it is definitely worth it. This is not something you can just sit down and create over a long weekend. It is something that takes a good deal of internal deliberation and discovery, possible training and education, and the development and implementation of a personal online reputation management strategy.
The primary reason for creating a personal brand is that it is a proactive way of controlling your own career development and setting the stage for how you are perceived in the online business world. Putting the time into building a strong personal brand will help you make a good impression, impact your potential for getting the right jobs or moving up the career ladder, and increase your ability to work with and lead subordinates to accomplish corporate goals. It clearly delineates your business and leadership skills, boldly lets everyone else in your company or profession know who you are, and shows them exactly what you stand for professionally. So, sit right down and write yourself a vision, then do what it takes to make that dream come true by building a personal brand.