Often when we think about personal branding we think about famous people or Instagram “Influencers”. However, these people usually have teams of professionals managing their personal brand that can seem so far from reality.
In the corporate world personal branding is something we need to understand and build on, and having a polished LinkedIn profile and a corporate portrait is only the start.
I really love this quote from Entrepreneur’s article on personal branding, “Personal brands are like wardrobe choices. You need to be honest about whose attention you’re trying to get, what your natural style is, and the story you’re trying to tell. Without all that, you won’t make comfortable clothing choices, and you definitely won’t have a personal brand you can relate to. It’ll be more likely to hang in your closet, along with the rest of your unloved vests and sweaters. R.I.P.”
Reasons to Invest in YOUR Personal Branding
Perhaps you’ve just landed your dream job or you’re searching for a new one. Your new team, clients and prospective employers will be researching you to find out as much as they can before trusting and investing time and money in you.
Maybe your boss or new business requires you to attend networking events or build relationships with prospective clients or existing contacts and customers. What will they want to know about you? What are you telling them?
…and the obvious reason is that you want (and deserve) a pay rise.
The Deeper Dimensions of Personal Branding
Have you given any consideration to the deeper dimension of personal branding. Like what makes you tick? What do you truly value? And how does that feed into everything you do in your day and the output of your work? How you speak to and treat other colleagues, above and below you?
One thing I learnt during a mindfulness retreat, that I have applied to my professional world, is that when you elicit your core values and write them down on paper they start becoming your reality. Similarly, when you think about buying a new car you start seeing that model everywhere you walk and drive. When you start to focus on your values they become your reality.
So what are your values when it comes to your professional life? Here’s a few to get you thinking:
Experts suggest that handwriting your notes improves your memory, so I recommend writing down a list of your professional core values and assess how close you are to living those values. If you’re not, it’s ok. Simply start to focus on them each and every day and after a few weeks or a month revisit your values to see how you’re going.
What is Your Why?
Why do you do what you do? What do you believe in?
Since entering the workforce 15 years ago I’ve had about 10 jobs, no joke. I’ve been a legal secretary, tech support operator, sign-writer, training manager… the list goes on.
When I started studying photography in 2006 I knew that creating beautiful images was what made me tick, and it’s been the driving force of my life ever since. I went back into the corporate world, working in the financial sector for a media company a few years ago, it killed my creativity and soul after a while. I knew that photography was what made me happy, and I was going to do everything in my power to make it my career.
So, I guess my why is helping people build their business, amplify their message and capture life lasting moments through beautiful imagery.
Now. What’s your why?
What Are Your Goals?
This is such a cliche question, but really, what are your goals?
Setting professional goals would have to be one of the most effective ways to actually achieving them. When I started my marketing degree my goal was to be a digital marketing manager in five years. I did that in two. So my next goal was to be head of the department and I did that in six months. It made me realise just how much value there is in goal setting, so I now set goals for everything.
When thinking about your goals remember to fit the rest of your life in. How do your professional goals support the rest of your life i.e. does working from 9am to 10pm every night because you’re so deadline focused affect your intention to spend more time with family and friends? Probably not.
Once you know what your values are, start writing down your goals based on your values, dates you plan on achieving those goals and what action you need to take to achieve your goals. Revisit them on a weekly/monthly/quarterly basis to see how you’re going. You’ll be surprised at how well this works.
Crafting Your Personal Branding Story
People connect with stories and will connect and understand you on a deeper level when they know your story.
Most organisations will have a story and brand statement, and on the flip side create user personas to profile prospect clients and customers. It’s what organisations use to drive every business decisions, products tey create and content they produce. I’m sure you’ve already done this yourself too.
From a personal branding perspective this isn’t something you need to publish publicly, though it’s something that might help guide your personal branding – the way you speak about yourself to people at networking events, your online profile, the content you share on social media, brands you use and wear, style of your hair and wardrobe, and your professional headshot etc.
Give it a go. Make it interesting, and something you’re proud of saying to yourself each and every day.
Here’s an example of how I’ve utilised a couple of my values into a personal brand statement.
“I create meaningful connections between brands, people, and the world by transforming moments in time into unforgettable memories.”
How to Start Empowering Yourself
It can be a pretty difficult task to think about yourself as a brand. You know who you are, and so do your current colleagues, friends, and family. But what about prospective clients or employers?
Most of us who haven’t studied sales, marketing or business probably don’t realise this, but we are selling ourselves every day. Whether it’s communicating a new idea to our team, negotiating a pay rise with our boss or communicating our skills and experience in an interview, we are selling ourselves through our body language, the way we dress and the way speak.
Here are a few ways you can shift your mindset to your personal branding in a way that feels comfortable and empowering:
Shift your mindset to your values and goals. When we focus on our values and goals we tend to think about the outcome and steps it takes to get there, as opposed to what fears we have or perceived judgements people might make.
Remind yourself of your values on a daily basis. When we write down our values and start thinking about them on a daily basis, they start to become our reality – just like the story of the car. When you stay true to your values it makes you feel confident and motivated.
Keep your goals in mind. When you’re on track to achieving your goals there’s a sense of empowerment. You feel good about the work you’re doing, and not so lost in the detail of each and every day. Be kind to yourself. You might find that you aren’t living up to all of your values at first and that is ok. There is always room for improvement. We are only human, so be kind to yourself.
“Where attention goes, energy flows and results show.” -T. Harv Eker
How to Begin Building YOUR Personal Brand
Here’s a list of tasks you can do to help build a stellar personal brand that people can connect with, and that feels honest from the inside out:
Write down a list of your professional values (and personal ones if that helps too)
Write down at least 3-5 professional goals including what steps you need to take to achieve those goals, and the date you plan on taking the first step to achieve your goal
Create your personal branding statement
Update your resume to reflect your values
Update your Linkedin profile
Review your personal and professional style. Does it reflect your professional values?
Get a professional headshot taken.
Update your website About and Team pages
Start an engaging blog about the topics you’re passionate about and that support your goals
Write or share content on Linkedin that reflects your values and goals
Update your personal Facebook profile photo (this doesn’t have to be professional, but something that talks to your interests or personal values)
Share images on Instagram that speak to your values
If you own a business, run a workshop on personal branding that helps your team achieve their goals
Review your values and goals on a weekly/monthly/quarterly basis (they’re likely going to change)