3 Personal Branding Tips for Enhancing Your Career Development
Personal branding, at its core, is the way you project yourself to the world and how others perceive you. Personal branding is not only defined by what you do and where you are headed but also about how you do it and why.
The concept of “personal branding”—the practice of people marketing themselves the same way corporations do—first emerged in 1997, when Tom Peters, an expert in corporate branding, wrote an article for Fast Company.
Peters suggested individuals can be every bit as much a brand as companies such as Nike or Coke. He wrote, by carefully defining one’s personal brand, “Everyone has a chance to stand out . . . to be a brand worthy of remark.”
Unfortunately, less than 15 percent of people effectively define their personal branding and only 5 percent consistently live their personal branding in the workplace, according to Glenn Llopis Group.
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Your personal brand is your product. If your objective is to get a seat in the C-suite, a leadership position or even a raise, for example, your personal branding needs to reflect that. You need to start living and communicating your personal branding as someone with C-suite potential, leadership potential, or someone who goes above and beyond.
“How you do anything is how you do everything.”
-Zen Buddhist saying
Personal branding is what draws people toward you or pushes them away. Every interaction affects how people feel about you, positively or negatively.
When you interact online, on the phone, via email, in meetings, on conference calls, etc., are you drawing people toward you or pushing them away? Is the way you handle stress, manage time, collaborate, etc. drawing people toward you or pushing them away?
Your personal branding is as much about your background, experiences, and goals as it is about your career or profession. Everything that has brought you to this moment is a part of you and will define how you act and how others will perceive you.
Your brand is what people say about you when you’re not in the room.
–Jeff Bezos, founder of Amazon.com
Take a moment and think about how celebrities and media figures define and express their personal branding. Choose two or three famous people. What words would you use to describe them? What do you feel when you see them? How do expect them to behave and communicate with others?
Celebrities get paid millions of dollars to endorse products because fans of those celebrities will buy those products. The reason they will buy those products is because they trust and recognize the celebrity’s personal brand.
Successful brands all make strong emotional connections with the public. The same goes for business professionals and their personal brand.
How do you want people to perceive you? High Potential? Emerging Leader? Team player?
How do you want people to feel about you? Reliable? Trustworthy? Collaborative?
You cannot develop a strong personal brand overnight. And it’s not always easy.
Shape your personal brand
To start shaping your personal branding, start by understanding how you see yourself and how those around you perceive you. The way you see yourself and the way others see you can be different. This is why carefully examining how you want to be perceived versus how others truly see you is worth the time, energy, and effort.
There are many elements that go into creating and maintaining your personal branding, including vision, style, experience, passion, purpose, values, strengths, and goals.
How to Define Your Personal Brand
Here are the steps to define your personal branding. Grab a pencil and paper.
Step 1: Write three words you would use to describe yourself. Take your time. And be honest.
Step 2: Find someone you trust—a boss, spouse, or coworker—and ask them to provide three words they would use to describe you.
Step 3: Compare your three words to describe yourself to the words others use to describe you. Do they match? If not, how are they different? Do the words other use to describe you inspire new words? Write down the three words that resonate with you.
If how you view your brand is inconsistent with how others view your brand, you may need to adjust to bring them into alignment. For example, do you want your coworkers to perceive you as bold but your boss thinks you are an introvert? Maybe it is time to be more aggressive when advocating for your ideas. If you want your coworkers to perceive you as a team player but they think you are arrogant and self-involved, you could try listening more and talking less.
Step 4: Make a list of your core competencies—your talents and skills that may benefit others. Don’t be humble. Write them down.
Step 5: List your major experiences, accomplishments, and achievements. Awards, degrees, and promotions all count.
Step 6: Write down your goals. What do you hope to accomplish this year? In five years? Ten years? These can be work-related goals or personal aspirations. What’s on your bucket list? Climbing Mount Everest? Taking a dance class? Getting married?
Step 7: Write down your passions. What hobbies or activities you enjoy pursuing outside of work? How do you like to spend your leisure time?
Step 8: Describe your values. What do you stand for? What is important to you? And what will you not tolerate under any circumstances?
Creating a personal branding statement
Use the information you have compiled to create a personal branding statement. Write one or two sentences that best describe you and the unique value you can offer to others.
Think of it as a tagline or catchphrase. Make it solution-oriented and unique to you.
Your personal branding statement is not a personal mission statement or job title. Instead, it should express what you stand for, what people can expect from you, and how you will make decisions going forward.
Some examples of personal branding statements for a teacher, a shipping manager, and a real estate agent might look something like:
Teacher: “I help students identify their passions and talents and provide direction on how they can use them for future success.”
Shipping manager: “I have a passion for logistics. My days are spent managing the shipping requirements of my customers to allow their businesses to grow and thrive.”
Real estate agent: “I strive to be the most passionately referred agent in the real estate industry while providing excellent customer service to each and every one of my clients.”
Composing a personal branding statement may take a bit of time, so don’t rush. Once you have composed it and you are satisfied, write it down or print it out and tape it to your desk or computer so it is clearly visible. This will serve as a daily reminder for you to commit to your personal brand.
“Leaders create the conditions where people choose new actions.
The choices are voluntary. They’re made by people who see a new landscape, new opportunities and new options.
You can’t make people change. But you can create an environment where they choose to.”
–Seth Godin, author, blogger, entrepreneur
In his treatise Rhetoric, Aristotle discussed the three means of persuasion a speaker must use to influence another person: ethos, pathos, and logos.
Ethos speaks to the decency and character of a person or speaker. Does the person with whom I am interacting seem genuine and honest? Can I trust them?
Logos goes to the believability and credibility of the person’s message. Do the ideas this person is putting forward seem logical and believable? Do they make sense?
Pathos is the third means of persuasion. It involves passion and emotion. Does the person seem excited and engaged? Does the message they are delivering make me feel something?
When all three means of persuasion are present and aligned, it provides a strong architecture for your personal branding.
Strong personal branding, much like successful corporate brands, must be developed, maintained, and protected through consistent and authentic behavior is vital. It takes focus and constant, careful consideration of the choices you make.
To learn how we can help you define your personal branding, communicate it to your stakeholders, and take on a leadership role, please contact us.