4 ways to build a personal brand that will boost your career
Channelling your skills, values and personality into a personal brand is a superb way of giving your professional life a boost.
It shows off your skills and knowledge in a specialised, specific way, is an excellent means of leaving your mark, and is a natural fit for anyone with an out-going, extroverted personality.
With the help of industry experts and their wealth of knowledge, we’ll delve into the ways building a personal brand can give your career a boost.
Use a human touch
A personal brand is a superb way of standing out from the rest. Not only can it help distinguish yourself from others, it’ll foster a more personalised feel that others will gravitate towards. Rather than just another face in the crowd, presenting yourself as a brand/business that’s approachable and available is hugely beneficial, and a model that’s becoming increasingly preferable when compared with other approaches.
Carl Reader, business author and commentator for the likes of BBC Radio 1 and City AM, and director of d&t Chartered Accountants says: “Without doubt, the current trend in marketing is building an ‘influencer’ brand, and the reason for this is simple. Many businesses have obsessively focused on systemisation over the last couple of decades, and they lost the human touch in the process.”
Through this approach, the human touch can streamline finding customers, since they may be more inclined to trust a well-branded individual. Prospective customers and partners want to be associated with the strong brand that you’ve fostered over the last few months or years. In terms of press coverage, you’re more likely to obtain column inches as a credible individual rather than as a company.
Carl recommends starting with the basics: set brand guidelines and values, and ensure a strong online presence. Attracting an audience in these early days is hugely important. Do it with perseverance, consistency and timeliness and you’ll soon reap the rewards of how your personal brand is positioned.
Use your brand to open doors
As Carl hinted at, your personal brand can create opportunities in ways that a more corporate business might not be afforded. Adding to this, Ken Meaney, International Director at oil and gas industry recruiter Fircroft Group states:
“A powerful personal brand can open doors, lead to personal introductions and create new career and business opportunities, so it is well worth putting in the time and effort necessary to create a strong personal brand.”
Ken advises looking at three important actions you can take to leverage new opportunities:
Identify your uniqueness and strengths: What’s the one thing that makes you stand out from your peers?
Build a platform: In today’s connected world, a digital presence is a must. Whether it’s a personal website or a Twitter account, make sure you have a digital platform and that you use it regularly.
Share your knowledge: Share knowledge that is valuable and you’ll soon build an audience of followers and advocates, which will, in turn, build your personal brand further.
Taking the time to build up your personal brand positions yourself as a knowledgeable, authoritative figure that people will flock to, whether it’s potential customers or the press. Include your email address in the bio of your active social media accounts so people can easily contact you. If you’re easily contactable, you’ll keep yourself open to opportunities you previously thought unavailable.
Look at what makes you stand out
As you put your brand under the microscope, its successes and comparative failures will be brought into sharp relief. Here, you’ll be able to fully understand its strengths, accentuating these positives in the process. Charlie Wagstaff, MD at Criticaleye, a peer-to-peer board community for C-Suite Executives notes:
“Strong brands engage us emotionally with stories and messages – as well as driving the success of their organisations. In a turbulent and disruptive world, it’s time we tried tapping into the power of branding as individuals in order to inspire colleagues and open up new opportunities for the future.”
Craig notes that executives should identify their key personality traits by asking what makes them who they are, such as:
What aspects of my life or career set me apart from my peers?
What are my unique selling points as an individual?
What leadership qualities do I have?
What am I passionate about, and how can I harness that energy and represent it positively to an external audience?
Additionally, take a look at your competitors and their various websites, and weigh up what you do differently to them – why should people choose you over other similar brands? In identifying your key strengths, avoid using generic terms like industry leader. Terms such as these often box you into a corner; when asked how or why you see yourself as an industry leader, you might struggle with the reasoning.
The key is knowing what your capabilities are, and presenting them in a meaningful, insightful manner that stays true to yourself. Focus your energy on what you know are your strengths rather than a holistic, all-encompassing approach that spreads yourself thin.
Focus on the future
Further to the above, it’s natural that the increased focus will lend itself to your personal brand’s performance further down the line. It isn’t enough for you to simply understand your achievements and hope for the best in the future, you have to consciously plan for what’s ahead. Charlie says:
“The next step in the branding process is for individuals to identify what they want to achieve in the future and take action in promoting and evolving their brand to achieve these ambitions. In other words, knowing where you want to be in 10 years has a crucial role to play in defining what your personal brand will look like now.” Charlie advises that brands should look towards:
Getting involved in partnerships or projects that broaden your experience and career portfolio.
Engaging with a wide, cross-industry peer group in order to ask strategic questions and build contacts outside their immediate environment.
Gaining non-executive directorships in a different industry and looking for a more senior mentor who could help guide your personal and professional decisions.
Capitalising on opportunities such as these could help give you the momentum you need going forward. Keep your brand fresh and current as a means of progression. Resting on your laurels is a sure-fire way of becoming stale; consider the benefits of broader horizons, and do something new that pushes you into the future.
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