Brands are everywhere, on your iPhone, your Nike shoes or you may have already stopped at your favourite Tim Hortons for coffee this morning. These businesses have been successful at developing well-known marketing brands that have been successful in building meaningful connections, loyalty and trust with their customers. Just think about the power of these marketing strategies and what a brand could do if applied to what you have to offer a potential employer and/or your current boss?
Actually, you already have a personal brand. Its simply what people think of you when they hear your name or meet with you. Its what people say about you, it explains who you are, your values, your emotions, your trustworthiness. Whether you realize it or not, your personal brand differentiates you from all others. Its your reputation both personally and professionally.
Your personal brand is critical to establishing relationships and moving your career forward. For instance, an estimated 85 per cent of hiring managers assess personal brand when determining if you will be the right fit for their organization.
Just like a corporations brand is a rallying call in the marketplace, so too is your personal brand. The challenge is how to shape your brand to attract a new employer and/or propel you forward in your current career. The following tips will assist you to build a personal brand and/or amplify the brand you have created for yourself.
● Who are you? In order to build a brand, you really need to know yourself. Start by asking friends and family for words they would use when they think of you. Apply a personality assessment and highlight at least three key positive features. Ask yourself what motivates you and again, prioritize this to the top three. Examine your skills, what are you good at and what do you like to do? These elements are important in both guiding you to the right job and creating an aura or personal brand that attracts those hiring managers. This is what you call a value proposition.
● Research your target Who are you trying to reach? Determine the industry and/or organization that you wish to target. Do some research and assess who the leaders are, what their credentials and experience are, and what the organization is currently engaged in. Determine what you feel should be emphasized within your personal brand in order to attract attention. Try to match your skills and strengths to the goals and objectives of your target organization.
● Take advantage of social media There are so many tools now available on social media that can help distribute your personal brand. Use as many as you have time to manage. Create a short bio that can highlight strengths, interests and key skills and distribute this where and however you can. It might be worthwhile to create a personal website, but be careful with what you post. Stick to personal interests, education, experiences, goals, objectives and accomplishments. Keep the website and any social media accounts current and always ensure the content adds value to your goals and objectives. And, be smart about what you post.
● Build and use bridges Approach people in your network for referrals to individuals who could provide you more information. Everyone knows someone who knows someone and their name might just get you past the door. The individual can make the call for you and recommend a meeting and/or when you call, use the name of your network contact. Bridge contacts are very valuable, use them whenever you can.
● Seek out informational interviews Reach out to organizations that interest you, determine who is the best person to contact and/or ask for a referral from your network. When approaching these individuals, ask only for 20 minutes of their time. You will be surprised at how many managers will give this consideration. During the interview, watch your time and do not overstay your welcome. Make good conversation by asking about the organization, their goals and objectives, their challenges and an example of interesting projects they may be working on. Focus more on the organization than yourself. While this seems counterproductive you will find that the manager is happy to share information about their organization and then they will ask you about yourself. Take it easy and do not be pushy. Thank the manager for their time. Later, send a quick thank you by email.
● Assess your experience Each time you complete an informational interview, sit down an assess the experience. Did you leave a good impression? Were you able to emphasize your skill sets and what you could offer? What did you learn and how could you do better the next time?
● Seek networking opportunities Part of getting known and having opportunities to present yourself is being able to build and use a network. The best opportunities are professional organizations and/or social or sports organizations. Seek out leadership responsibilities where you can not only meet decision makers but also learn more skills that would be helpful to your career.
● Be consistent Keep in mind that your personal brand reflects you in all situations: at home, at work and at play. It is not just an online persona! Its how you act when in a family setting as well as in a casual environment. If you are inconsistent in your behaviour, it weakens your brand.
● Build a long-term strategy Developing a personal brand takes time, effort, evaluation and personal care and attention. You are creating a picture of what you stand for, something that becomes you as you travel through life. It is not just a quick career change strategy but it is your long-term marketing strategy. And in the end, its all about what makes you different, worth hiring and worth getting to know. Your personal brand is your personal power, power that you should use wisely.
Source: The Ultimate Guide to Creating a Personal Brand in 2021, Casey Botticello, April 9, 2021, 10 Tips for Building a Personal Brand and Boost your Career, Northeastern University, Jan. 14, 2019.