Whether you know it or not, you have a personal brand. If someone hears your name in a professional capacity, your personal brand is what they think about you or if they pop your name into Google or LinkedIn. You can get many benefits from creating your brand, but it's also an important part of your career.
Our guide will discuss the following key topics:
- What is a personal brand?
- Why is it important?
- How to build your personal brand.
After reading the guide, if you would like further support from our team of specialist recruiters, visit our dedicated candidates' page.
What is a Personal Brand?
When understanding your personal brand, it is good to start by differentiating between your reputation and your personal brand. As whilst the two are similar, there are some crucial differences.
We all have a reputation in our personal and work lives. Our reputation can stem from how we communicate, our relationships with colleagues and managers, and the first impressions we make. All these factors play a part in how others see us. For example, if we asked a peer to describe you, they may answer that you are innovative and an excellent team player. So your reputation is built on the opinions of the people around you based on your behaviours and actions.
Your personal brand, rather than being built on the opinion of others, is how you want people to see you. It is about visibility and the values you want to portray. It is how you want to portray yourself to the world.
Why is Personal Branding Important?
A personal brand will set you apart from the competition and become your calling card. As a representation of you, it highlights your strengths and shows your value to an organisation. Some of the benefits of having a personal brand are:
- Authority – a strong personal brand will show you as a thought leader.
- Shows your value – shows prospective clients why they should work with you and potential employers why you should be part of their team.
- Build your network – As your reputation builds, you will get more exposure, leading to a positive influence and great referrals. Build a network of people that you value and care about and build relationships.
- Opportunity – a strong personal brand will lead to opportunity, whether it be more clients as you'll be seen in the industry as an expert and go-to or career advancement as more companies will come to you and want you to join their team.
- Define your "why" – your personal brand will show people what you know and why you do what you do every day.
How to Build your Personal Brand in Eight Steps
How to start? Where to start? It takes time to build your personal, and it can be easy to get lost in the process, but here are eight top tips on how to build your personal brand:
Figure out what drives you
To develop your personal brand, you need to understand your motivations and passions. To build your knowledge of this, ask yourself questions, including the following:
- Which of your talents and skills are you most proud of?
- Are there skills you want to learn but still need to start developing?
- What are your motivations for getting out of bed in the morning and going to work?
- What skills, talents, and traits do the people you admire and look up to have?
- What subjects are you interested in?
- What kind of projects or tasks motivate you?
- What do you like your legacy to be?
By answering these questions, you will develop an understanding of the values, goals, and beliefs that you cherish and that help motivate you.
This may seem simple, but it's not. People buy from people, so stay true to yourself and craft a brand that represents you, your knowledge and your "why".
If a brand is a copycat or you are trying to portray something you are not, the more likely the audience will see through it and be far less engaging. You must remember that your personal brand is a way of selling yourself; if you don't truly believe what you are selling, no one will buy into you.
Put simply, if you don't have consistency in your personal brand, it will lose its impact and lose engagement with your audience. Consistency may take time; however, the more you think, speak, and write about your brand, the same message will start to be delivered.
For example, as the strength of your brand grows, people in your network will depend on you or look forward to hearing from you on social media, so make sure your messaging is consistent, your content is relevant, and you are meeting deadlines that you have set for example if you have a weekly blog make sure you post it weekly.
Say "yes" to relevant opportunities
Your personal brand needs to be visible and allow people to hear from you, so when the opportunities to participate come up, say yes, whether it be a project, a guest blog, or to speak at conferences or panels. Make sure you say yes, it can be nerve-wracking putting yourself out there, but it's worth it!
These opportunities will, first of all, give you vital exposure to help you advance in your career and the chance to network and build a following. Without networking and building your audience, your personal brand will go unnoticed.
Finally, they will help you learn more about yourself, your skills, development areas, and personality traits which can only help to enhance your personal brand.
When building your personal brand, it's essential to focus on one thing at a time and not try to be everything to everyone. Decide what you want your key message to be from your personal brand and stick to that message. Keeping a focused message for your target audience will make creating content that effectively portrays your personal brand easier. So, whether it be a weekly blog, white paper or vlog, it's crucial to do them right to build that authority and be seen as a thought leader or expert.
Importance of Storytelling
Successful companies and people understand the importance of brand image and the ability to tell a story. They know it is the perfect way to build engagement and emotional connections with their customers and audiences.
Apple founder, Steve Jobs, used his personal brand to market Apple into becoming one of the leading global brands. In his Stanford Commencement speech, he told the audience to pursue their uniqueness in building a personal brand that can impact the world. He stated:
"Your time is limited, so don't waste it living someone else's life. Don't be trapped by dogma – which is living with the results of other people's thinking. Don't let the noise of others' opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary."
To create a compelling story for yourself, understand that this differs from an elevator pitch. You are not selling a product or specific skill set; you're telling a story filled with your unique personality and authenticity to build a genuine connection with an audience.
Be careful not to make your story too complex as you don't want to dilute the message; keep it simple and consider the following ideas:
- Your story should give your audience a clear idea of who you are as a person and professional.
- It should explain your mission. What is the purpose of what you do?
- The audience should connect with your story.
- Your story should leave an impact on your audience, so they can go away and share it with others.
Learn from Others
You don't want to be a copy of others but look at what other leaders in your industry are doing and what they speak about, as it will give you an insight into how they crafted their brand. Don't be afraid to approach them directly; they may be open to giving you ideas and inspiration to support you in building your personal brand.
Also, look outside your industry at business leaders (e.g. Steve Jobs, as mentioned earlier), celebrities, and social media influence to gain insights into what personal brand they are portraying and the methods they use to do this so successfully.
Furthermore, there is also a vast wealth of information at your fingertips in this digital age. Learning tools such as TED Talks and Linkedin Learning offer expert insights and courses to help you develop your personal brand.
Don't be Afraid of Failure
No one likes to fail, and avoiding it is our human nature. However, to have a powerful personal brand, you must have experienced some level of failure to learn vital lessons and try different methods to succeed.
An example is the virgin tycoon Sir Richard Branson often refers to the many businesses he has started throughout his career, of which people only remember the success stories. He commented:
'What I've learnt throughout my life is that every success is built upon a thousand failures or 'opportunities to learn,' as I like to think of them,'
Learning to embrace your failures and make them part of your story will enhance your brand as your audience will emphasise and connect via their experiences. Furthermore, having failure as part of your story will give you the courage to try new opportunities rather than being too afraid to try at all.
Building a personal brand takes time and effort, but it's worth it. And, as the business world becomes more connected through platforms such as social media, the need for a personal brand and to stand out will continue to rise.
Done effectively, your brand is unique to you, and it's the one thing no one can take away from you, and it can follow you throughout your career. It's a leadership requirement that lets people know who you are, what you stand for, and that you be trusted. So, are you now ready to build your personal brand?
Our Specialist Recruiters are Ready to Support you
At MCS Group, we understand the importance of personal brand and standing out, especially in a competitive jobs market. Contact our passionate team today for support on personal branding, interview preparation, and search for that new dream career. Visit our dedicated candidates' page for more information.
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