Developing and identifying your personal brand has become an increasingly talked about point for people today. In the past, it used to be that there was a wall between one’s personal and professional personas, but today, as social media merges these identities, we find the two inextricably linked within the concept of the personal brand. But what exactly is a personal brand?
Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos describes it as follows: “Your personal brand is what people say about you when you leave the room.” Even when you’re not present to communicate things about yourself, you’re communicating a message about yourself to your audience. They’re forming a perception of you.
But why is it important to build and develop our brand?
Identifying your own personal brand is integral in distinguishing yourself from others in competitive environments. Furthermore, it allows you to focus your energy on your strengths and weaknesses in a manner that can boost both efficiency and credibility in your work and personal life. Your personal brand can do more than just benefit you in the long run; those who build strong, hard-working brands can often inspire others around them, increasing overall efficiency in the workplace.
How do we identify our own personal brand and what can it mean to both our social and professional development? We have set out some key factors in identifying and solidifying your brand below:
Defining your brand — the three Ps
Even if this is your “personal” brand, your professional life certainly plays a role in shaping others’ perception of you — we spend too much of our lives working for it not to. How do you explain the work you do to others? How is your company or industry viewed? Some of this you have control over, some you do not, but all of it plays into your brand.
What really makes you tick? Whether it be a problem you are passionate about solving in the world or taking your career to the next stage, identifying what exactly you want to achieve and the subsequent success factors will be vital in determining what you want to be known for when you “leave the room.”
Defining one’s personality can be a straightforward task for some people — however, for many of us, it can be daunting to try to put it into words. Try out the following exercise to help identify some of your own personality traits:
Come up with three adjectives regarding the qualities you embody.
Are you witty, good-humored, or philosophical? Or perhaps you’re more socially-minded and a great communicator who can bring together teams. By analyzing our traits individually, we are able to begin building the foundations of our personal brand. Both your passions and personality should be emphasized when communicating and networking with others, to not only distinguish oneself but also to find common traits with others.
Together, these three elements combined constitute your personal brand — the qualities and characteristics that shape how the rest of the world views you.
Sharing your brand
Once you have your brand defined, you have to figure out how best to share that brand with the world. In 2018, that is not as easy as it sounds — we are presented with a vast array of outlets to display and share our personal brands, both digitally and in person.
If you are of a more creative mind, then show it within your resume or personal online portfolio. For example, you could use your creative flair to create personal infographics in your resume, rather than employ the traditional resume style, and really capture the attention of potential employers.
Be sure to self-audit your online presence on social media — a recent survey revealed that 70% of employers check on potential hires’ social media profiles and 48% check the profiles of current employees, of which 34% found content that led to disciplinary action or even firing. This can be as simple as Googling your own name and seeing what comes up through social media — you might surprise yourself with just how much content you have put online over the years.
But more than just something to be careful about, social media is a powerful tool for amplifying causes and points of interests that reflect our brand. For example, engaging and sharing industry and professional content on LinkedIn is a great way to network and grow your professional brand. More social platforms such as Instagram and Twitter can be used to display our hobbies and interests in a less formal manner — if you’re claiming to be outgoing or creative on your resume, these are the platforms to show it.
You must also consider how you act and present yourself in person and how this can reflect your brand. Your wardrobe and demeanor should emulate your brand, whether it be more professional or casual. We only get one opportunity to make a first impression, so it is essential that everything from attire to body posture align with what you want that initial impression to be.
Establishing a personal brand is an important step in the long-term development of our careers and personal lives. A strong brand not only defines us but can influence others to excel and increase overall efficiency. Consistently evaluating your brand, both in person and online, can help you to identify your strengths and weaknesses and make the adjustments necessary to improve. We only have one chance at a first impression, and forming a strong brand is integral to creating the right impression.