What sets you apart when you’re looking for a new job or opportunity? It’s all about your profile…
We all have a personal brand, whether we like it or not. Personal branding expert Jennifer Holloway says, “Your brand is what people are saying about you when you’re not in the room. It’s not about your job title or position in the company, it’s about your essence and what people think are your core traits.” You don’t have to be running a business or be the CEO of a big company for personal branding to have benefits. You don’t even have to be working.
Thinking about yourself this way is a useful exercise to identify your key skills and traits. It builds confidence, helps you get what you want from life, and is invaluable in helping you improve at your job, get a promotion, or change careers. Try these five easy steps…
1 Ask for feedback
First, you need to know what people really think about you. And the simple way to find out is to ask, says Heather Huhman, career expert and hiring manager. “Ask trusted bosses, clients or people who know you really well how you come across. Avoid close personal friends who might be too kind to be completely honest. Don’t be affronted if you don’t like what you hear; instead, use it to work on weak areas.”
Task: Ask people to write down a list of five to 10 words, both positive and negative, that they think describe you best. Ask them to clarify the words – for example, if they say “honest”, do they mean you won’t steal from the company, or that you are blunt with your opinions?
2 Get creative
Now that you have some idea how people view you, it’s important to establish what you want your brand to be. “Your brand is driven by six key areas”, says Jennifer.
Values What’s important to you.
Drivers What motivates you.
Reputation What others think about you.
Behaviours How you act in front of other people.
Skills What you can do that others can’t.
Image How you look and dress.
Task: Create a mind map. Write your name in the middle of a piece of paper and surround it with words that sum up the sections above. For example, under Values, you could write “loyal “, “energetic”, or “responsible”. Under Drivers, it could be “nurturing people”, “problem solving”, and so on. Be truthful – it will help you clarify how you see yourself.
3 Think like Oprah
Start to boil down your brand to one word or idea. Oprah Winfrey is many things to many people, and her achievements are vast, but her key trait is empathy. “Her fans trust her and feel connected to her, and that’s what she’s built her business on,” says branding guru Samantha Ettus. What is the one word you want to be known for? Trustworthy? Supportive? Kind? You might be all of these but, to develop your brand, you need to isolate that one core thing.
Task: Think of yourself as a can of beans or a neon sign. What would be written on the can? What word would flash in bright lights if it was about you?
4 Use Social Media
This is a brilliant way to establish your brand. Use Facebook branding pages to publish useful information about who you are and what you do. Join Google+ communities to take part in conversations with like-minded people. Linkedln is also important for creating a strong profile. Use Twitter to exchange ideas. See how the w&h team do it on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest.
Task: Even if you’re a bit technophobic and think social media isn’t for you, experiment with Facebook and Twitter, asking a few safe friends or followers their opinion before you go “live”.
5 Take action
Creating your personal brand isn’t just about wordplay and marketing, you have to bring it to life,” says Laurie Morse-Dell, a personal branding and social-media expert. It means pushing yourself to do more, and using your passion and talents to gain recognition and make yourself in demand.
Task: If you work as an accountant, but want more from it (a promotion, change of direction), you could start a blog on how to save money. You’re developing your brand from being just “another employee” to becoming a valuable asset. Who knows where it might lead?