One thing for sure, we all have a personal brand. You have a personal brand and you have been sharing this brand with everyone that you have ever come in contact with. The way you choose to portray yourself is your personal brand. Now, the question is do you agree with this brand? Is it a true representation of who you are?
What is a Brand?
Your brand is what people say about you when you’re not in the room” – Jeff Bezos, Founder of Amazon
Actually a brand is absolutely anything, the mere fact that you know that one thing is not the other, is branding. Therefore a brand is a name, an idea, design, symbols, attributes, reputation and quality that differentiate one feature from another. That is why Apple’s identity is different from Samsung’s, even though they sell, essentially, the same idea. Same ideas, but different methods of presenting them. That’s what makes the each one unique.
What About Personal Branding?
“All of us need to understand the importance of branding. We are CEOs of our own companies: Me Inc. To be in business today, our most important job is to be head marketer for the brand called You.” – Tom Peters
It is the same concept, the only difference is that it is now on a personal scale. Your personal name is your brand name. You look different from everyone else, therefore your appearance is your brand design. You have different parents, fingerprints, values, personality, voice, qualities, perception and elements than everyone else. Therefore, you are unique.
This is what personal branding is about, being your original authentic self and presenting yourself as such. You do not see Apple and Samsung showcasing their brands in a similar manner, even though they are essentially selling the same idea.
You too might have the same qualifications, experience and you might even have gone to the same learning institution as the candidate you are competing for the job with. Who then gets the job? It is all up to your personal brand.
“Personal branding is about managing your name – even if you don’t own a business – in a world of misinformation, disinformation, and semi-permanent Google records. Going on a date? Chances are that your “blind” date has Googled your name. Going to a job interview? Ditto.” – Tim Ferriss
Why is a great personal brand important for your career?
CVs or resumes are no longer enough. In fact, I predict that in the years to come, resumes, as we know them today will cease to exist.
Be consistent in the manner you sell your brand.
Showcase your talent and become a leader in your area of expertise.
Sell your unique promise.
Communicate your true values, principles, ethics and integrity effectively and consistently.
Focusing on these strategies will help you get, not just any job, but a job that is best suited for you. How is that? Because the manner in which you communicate your brand is specific and unique to you. And you might have the exact qualifications with your job competitor, however your attributes would be different. This way, you are not a duplicate of another, as that can be viewed as boring and predictable. Furthermore, this strategy allows you to attract the right employer that appreciates and values your brand promise.
So what would make your brand stand-out? What makes you different from anyone else? And why is it crucial to build your personal brand? This guide will help you build an authentic and marketable personal brand. Listed below are the tips to help you be unique in the face of competition.
Looking At Your Strengths
This is an important factor in personal branding. It is not an idea only centred on your own perceptions, but also of those who know you well.
Those with a solid personal brand, know who they are and what they want in life. In fact, they are crystal clear on that. This is where you get to understand and describe your unique selling points. In order to help you with this important task, I have compiled several questions for you to help keep you focus on identifying your true strengths:
What was/were the highlight/s of my career, and why am I so proud of these moments?
What was the most fulfilling task or project I have ever worked on, and why was it fulfilling?
What role do I always play in group tasks, and how do others in the group view me?
How do I overcome the most challenging obstacles? What tools do I use?
What do I enjoy doing the most (business or leisure)
If I were to talk to someone about the subject that I enjoy the most, what would it be?
If I were to accomplish something of great significance to me, and there would be no obstacles of any kind to stand in your way, what would it be?
Now, try to think of 10 one-word descriptions of your strengths e.g. creative, compassionate and so on
Choose people who know you, your friends, family and colleagues and ask them to each give you their insight of what your strengths are. After doing that compare your lists with theirs. Share your list with them and see if they perceive you the same way as you view yourself.
“Emphasize your strengths on your CV, in your cover letters and in your interviews. It may sound obvious, but you’d be surprised how many people simply list everything they’ve ever done. Convey your passion and link your strengths to measure results. Employers and interviewers love concrete data” – Marcus Buckingham
Now that you know what your strengths are, use them. Utilise them as part of your strategic plan in your daily activities as well as with prospective employers. Let the right target audience know these gifts. Communicate them effectively using every relevant resource available to you. You can use your CV to highlight your strengths, online profiles and you must unquestionably have a personal website as your digital CV. Just remember your values and ethics when communicating to your audience. This will set you apart.
Know your Limitations
We all have weaknesses, but it is not always easy to acknowledge them. It is in your best interest to be completely honest with your self about what your limitations are or you will put yourself on the spot for major disappointments. Remember that a weakness is anything from being utterly uninterested about anything in life to having limited skills to do anything of interest.
“My attitude is that if you push me towards something that you think is a weakness, then I will turn that perceived weakness into strength” – Michael Jordan
Let’s help you identify these weaknesses:
Which aspects of my career/ education that I like the least, and why?
Am I someone who believes completely that I deserve more and better?
Do I become debilitated by the thought of having to perform certain tasks? What sort of tasks?
What were the low points in my career, and why?
In a group situation, which role/s do I like the least?
What was the least fruitful task/project I have ever worked on, and why did it fail?
In the face of obstacles, what makes me give up?
What is the most uninspiring subject to talk about for me?
What do I think are my 10 weaknesses? Be honest with yourself.
As on question 9 in strengths, only substitute weakness for strength.
Do not waste your time with weaknesses that do not hinder your professional goals. Establish what limitations you can turn into strengths in order to jump-start your career. Learn the skills that will help you progress. Put yourself in uncomfortable networking situations if you need people skills for example. Remember to mainly focus on weaknesses that hold you back from achieving your potential.
Top tip: Your strengths are what gives you an edge and it is crucial that you use them to your advantage.
Knowing what your values are, is knowing who you are and what you stand for. Having strong values, help you establish and navigate your thoughts so that they are in synergy with your passion and essence. In other words, before you involve yourself in anything at all, ask yourself, “is this in sync with my values and what I stand for?”
Values are essentially a set of principles that you live by. They define the codes that determine your personality, attitude, actions, reactions and so on. Look at it this way; perhaps the reason you are unhappy at work is because your values are not allied with what you do. Having values, therefore, is standing-up for what you believe in. It is crucial to align who you are with what you engage yourself in.
“Love is the expression of one’s values, the greatest reward you can earn for the moral qualities you have achieved in your character and person, the emotional price paid by one person for the joy he or she receives from the virtues of another.” – Ayn Rand
Define your values
There are a number of places in the internet that have great resources on how to establish your values for your personal brand. These are in a form of a list of adjectives that describes your values. Find a list most suited for you and by a process of elimination, choose the top 5 words that rings true to you and who you are. Establish why you chose these particular words and define what they mean to you. Use them to build your personal mission statement and hold yourself accountable if you are not respecting your values. These values should be communicated in your CV, website, social media platforms and blog posts.
Have passion for what you do! That is the biggest secret. It might seem difficult to reconcile the idea of passion and work. However, do establish that which you enjoy doing. That which gives you joy. Furthermore, consider topics that fascinate you, that keep you inspired and wanting more.
If you are still confused about what your passion might be, think about a time when you could not wait to do something or read about something. Think about the time you could not wait to get out of bed, and about the things that moved you to tears. Don’t forget the projects that made feel creative and had you filled with ideas. When you feel stimulated and motivated to do something, then you are passionate about it.
What do I really like about my current job?
If I were to volunteer, which charity would you choose? Why?
What do you spend most of your time doing?
“There is no passion to be found playing small-in settling for a life that is less than the one you are capable of living.” – Nelson Mandela
Your job related interests should be in more or less of the following areas:
Other ways of communication
Negotiating and many more
What words would you use to describe yourself? Also consider the words that others might use to describe you. Deliberate on the following words without limiting yourself; creative, thoughtful, visionary, ambitious, resourceful, risk-taker, negotiator, ethical, connected, compassionate, animated, worldly, diplomatic and so on. Find attributes that best describes your personality and use them to communicate your brand essence.
Once you are clear about your values, attributes and passion, it’s time to now position yourself. What does that mean exactly? It is simply means that you should consider how others perceive you based on your strengths, values, mission, attributes and passion. Remember, this is about authenticity. In the place of work, you have to be consistent about who you say you are.
Create a positioning statement. This statement you can use during interviews as it is more powerful and fresh than going on about your monotonous career past. It captures your essence and uniqueness.
At this point you should have everything you need in order to attract the right audience. You must first determine the industry in which you wish to work, then search for ideal organisations you wish to work for. Conduct an extensive research on these organisations and establish what problems they are faced with; you might be a match for them based on your unique strengths, values, passions and attributes.
With your homework done, create a personal brand strategy using the keywords in job descriptions to attract their attention. After all, they want to hire good talent and someone that matches their standards. However, remember to never give everything you have, reserve some of your good selling points for the interview.
“In Social Media the “squeaky wheel” gets the oil. You have to put yourself out there, to find people who will relate or even debate with you, depending on what you are looking for.” – Jessica Northey
Remember to stay true and be consistent with your personal brand. All the elements discussed in this article should be communicated effectively in the digital media. You should remember that in this age of information and technology, you have the power to make or break yourself. Utilise the platforms that are now available to communicate your personal brand successfully.