What is personal brand? Is it some corporate buzz word that will come and go as quick as a pineapple pen, or is it something you should look into? Well, in my humble opinion it is definitely something you should consider because your personal brand is all about Y-O-U.
You may disagree and say you don’t care about personal branding or you don’t have one nor want one. Well, bad luck - you have one whether you like it or not. Let me explain more with a little story time…
Early on in my career when I was working for a big bank I was going for an internal promotion. I was up against a couple of my peers but I felt great because I believed I was a hard worker and knew all the right people. I nailed the interview and walked away feeling pretty darn confident. So I was cut down a notch when I was advised I was unsuccessful with my application.
“What! How could this be? I was a perfect fit for the role. I don’t understand?”
I asked the interviewer for feedback...
“Ruby, all it came down to was personal brand. Your peer was better known and had stronger connections. They had a really massive personal brand”
“Huh?”, I remember thinking although I nodded along pretending I understood as the feedback was handed to me. Right, I need to get a little serious about my personal brand. So I did just that and discovered that branding is really all about marketing yourself and aligning that to your career as if it was a brand. It really comes down to the individual experience people have had with you and them spreading their opinion through word of mouth. Now let's get one thing straight. It hasn't got anything to do with a fake persona or creating an image of yourself that isn't you... nope, nope nope.
OK, I thought. What is my personal brand?
People think I’m hardworking, fun, friendly, perhaps over-confident.
I actually wasn’t too sure what others thought. So I asked my colleagues and manager at the time to serve it to me straight up. What I learnt was that my personal brand was in fact hard working, fun, friendly and confident, but the one ingredient I didn’t realise I was lacking was passion. Specifically, passion for my job. And this was true. I was in a role at the time where it did not spark passion in me at all. Read more about it here. And it was my lack of passion that came across in my interview. More so, the other candidates portrayed far more passion for the promotion than me. They wanted it because they truly saw it as career progression. I merely say it as a promotion, more money and something I wanted because I knew I could do the job.
Finding your personal brand
So what do you think your personal brand is? There really is only one way to find out and that is to ask others what they think of you. Remember, it is not what you think of yourself, that’s your self-image. You want to know what others think of you. All those things I mentioned before - what do they think you represent, your strengths and weaknesses, what are you renown for? And when you get the answer, ensure you have an open mind. You may not like what you hear, you may be pleasantly surprised. Whatever the case, you have some questions to ask yourself…
Reflect on the way you act and behave at work. Is it too casual or too serious? Do you slouch at the back of the room at meetings or are you talking all the time? Are you a gun at excel and known as the excel queen or the person who always volunteers to organise things? Are you always saying yes or never turning up?
Then there is social media. What does your image look like on all the platforms out there. Do you post videos of yourself kickboxing on the weekends, or volunteering at the orphanage? Are you providing your political views on twitter? Photos of you partying hard on Insta?
You catch my drift, all these things seemingly little things to you that amounts up to shaping your brand.
Your current 'sitch
Now, the real question is do you like what your current personal brand is? A few people say to me I don’t care about my personal brand because I don’t care what people think of me. Yeah, you go girl. I think it's great on one hand but wouldn't it be more empowering to take that brand and shape it to who you are in the most authentic sense? Now it's time to take some ACTION
I have prepared a workbook to get you into action mode. Find the Personal Brand workbook - member you can check it out here or for you newbies, sign up and access it 'fo free. Have a go at completing the workbook and you can create your personal brand statement and your very own personal brand action plan enabling you to take actions to help shape your brand.
Some points to remember about your personal brand.
- It will evolve over time - all those experiences you have over time will influence you and change you. Your personal development and growth will be reflected in your evolving personal brand. So check in with people to assess your personal brand from time to time, so that you have the awareness of what people think you stand for.
- Be open minded to feedback - you may not always be happy with what you hear. Try not to take it to heart. Ensure you include to ask people you respect and trust who will give you honest and constructive feedback.
- Have an action plan - if you want to shape your personal brand, have a plan with measurable goals and timeframes so you can track your progress and hold yourself accountable. It could be that you will do some learning and development, or try something totally out of your comfort zone such as public speaking, anything that you feel will improve your brand in the long run.
I'll see you next time.
WATCH THE VIDEO HERE!
Ruby coaches career minded individuals who are on a quest to find their dream role and build a career around it. She leads an active social community on Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn. She's always up for a coffee or two and will always, always take bribes when it's in units of almond croissants.