Do You Need A Personal Brand?
There’s been a lot of buzz about building a personal brand. Personal branding isn’t about coming up with a complicated strategy. Rather, it’s about knowing who you are and what you stand for, and then finding ways to make that visible. It’s about amplifying your skills and passions, which is key to rising up in the messy middle.
When I started out my career in market research, I didn’t just do deals, I built relationships. My strengths are and have always been harnessing the power of collaboration and finding win-win solutions for my colleagues and partners. Knowing who I was and owning my strengths was key to my success, enabling me to become the first female chief executive ranked in the research industry’s top 25. I didn’t try to change who I was to fit the rules of corporate culture. Instead, I did it my way by bringing emotion, collaboration and passion to the boardroom.
In today’s world where your reputation—both online and offline—may be more impactful than your resume, taking time to reflect upon and build your personal brand is the gateway to advancement—and also critical to landing you your best job fit. To give you clear action steps on how to do this, I reached out to my friend Amy Stanton, founder and CEO of Stanton & Company, a marketing and PR agency where she helps female athletes and lifestyle experts build their personal brands. Here she shares her real-world advice on how you can build brand you.
Step #1: Acknowledge You Already Have A Personal Brand
“We all have personal brands—we don’t get to choose!” says Stanton. “The more conscious we are about this as we’re rising the ranks in our professional lives, the better. A strong personal brand can help us progress more quickly. A weak personal brand can hold us back—either because people don’t know what we stand for or, worse than that, others may be making inaccurate assumptions. Having a strong personal brand is about true alignment… between who we believe we are, who we want to be and who we’re currently perceived to be.”
Step #2: Add Self-Reflection To Your Priority List
“It’s important to consistently take the time to look at yourself and figure out what’s working and what’s not in your life, in your relationships, in your work,” says Stanton. “Understanding and discovering your personal brand is about understanding and discovering yourself. How do you exist in the world? How do you feel about yourself? How do you connect with others? How do others respond to you? How do others perceive you? This is the foundation for understanding your personal brand.”
Step #3: Do A Self Assessment
“A good starting point is to think about how you’re perceived within your organization,” says Stanton. “What are the words you’d use to describe yourself? Now check those against the words you believe others would use to describe you—you can even check on past performance reviews to get some of this language. Do the words you use and the words your colleagues use to describe you align?”
Let’s say you want to be known for your ability to implement creative solutions, but your colleagues see you as more of a go-with-the-flow type who doesn’t want to rock the boat. This may be a clue that you need to practice speaking up more whenever you have a solution that could help improve the status quo. Pick the descriptions that most strongly resonate with who you are, and then actively cultivate them.
Step #4 Mindfully Amplify Who You Are
Now that you are more clear on what your brand is (say, a creative problem solver and change agent), tell everyone you know—with grace. It’s not about yelling into a loud-speaker, but it is about crafting the narrative. “Everything from social media to press coverage to speaking engagements can help build your personal brand,” says Stanton. “Tools like LinkedIn profiles are useful for sharing your resume, accomplishments and accolades—this should be written in a way that aligns with your personal brand,” says Stanton.
For example, a colleague of mine named Sylvia Friedel who launched a consultancy designed for brands and businesses called Satyllite, is crystal clear on her personal brand. She amplifies it by leveraging professional networking sites such as LinkedIn, where she lists her title as “Dot Connector & Cultural Investigator.” Summing up her personal brand in a nutshell like this sets her apart and illustrates her distinct personality.
And, keep in mind that your personal branding doesn’t need to be overt. “Your personal brand can be communicated through the things you say, the way you say them, the way you treat people and more,” says Stanton. “One of my mentors recently talked to me about integrity, and operating with integrity is a guide for everything I do in my life. Integrity includes everything from how responsive we are to emails to whether we’re late for meetings. This is a perfect example of paying attention to details that affect our personal brand—in this case, our integrity.”
Step #5: Let It Evolve
We evolve as people, and therefore so do our personal brands. Make sure you continue sharing the latest and greatest parts of your life, and what you’re working on—whether it’s in a conversation with a colleague or on your Twitter feed. Don’t let your brand get stale: Keep current, relevant and exciting. Keep up-to-date on the latest trends and news in your industry, and continue to develop new skills by signing up for seminars or taking online classes. Always keep learning, growing and evolving while being your authentic self, and it will open up doors for new opportunities.
In my own case, I was formerly the CEO of Ipsos OTX, a global research firm, where I was known as a relationship builder. Being true to who I was benefited me when I made a career pivot to go into the business of equality and launch The Female Quotient. I live by my belief that a woman alone can have power, but together we have impact.
Stay true to yourself, own your strengths and share your shining moments. That is how you will build the most successful brand you.
Click here to read more.