Building a strong personal brand
31 August 2018 | People
Every person has a personal brand, whether you consciously work on it or not. Put simply, your personal brand is your professional reputation or as Jeff Bezos defines it, “your brand is what people say about you when you’re not in the room”.
In today’s saturated market, a strong personal brand highlights your expertise, credibility and differentiates you from other professionals in your field. Therefore, if you’d like to position yourself for success in your career or business, you should start by defining your personal brand.
Building a personal brand is by no means a once-off activity. It’s an intentional, conscious process that requires commitment and consistency. Here are some tips on how to build and strengthen your personal brand in order to stand out from the crowd. While this is by no means an exhaustive list, it provides a good starting point.
Identify your ‘superpower’
What makes you different? In order to truly stand out in your industry or workplace, you must develop a distinct ‘superpower’ or ‘zone of genius’ that sets you apart from the rest of your peers. Think about what you want to be known for - this could be excellence, innovation or charismatic leadership. Whatever your superpower is, start building your personal brand around that unique quality and use it to elevate yourself.
In this context, being present doesn’t mean simply making up the numbers in the room. It refers to being actively engaged and adding value when you’re expected to; for instance in your unit meetings. You can also do this by volunteering to help out on a project or assist team members who may be struggling. Being consistently present also allows you to stand out and demonstrate your enthusiasm or expertise in a certain area, thereby building credibility. Next time an opportunity opens up in that space, guess who’ll be selected to head up the project?
Consistency is the secret sauce to building a strong brand. If you think about the world’s major brands, the one thing they have in common is that they’re consistent - be it their colours or advertisements. The same goes for a personal brand. If you want to be known for excellence, then you must consistently deliver excellent work. Simply put, being consistent allows people to trust you because they know exactly what to expect from you, when it comes to your work or service delivery.
Invest in your appearance
Experts say that it takes exactly five seconds for someone to judge you and decide whether or not they can trust you. Unfortunately, there’s usually only one chance to make a good first impression, therefore always make sure that your appearance - how you’re dressed and groomed, accurately represents your brand. If you’d like to be taken seriously as a business owner, you have to look the part, regardless of the industry you’re in. For instance, if you’re painter, it’s not appropriate to show up for formal meetings in paint-coated overalls. The same goes for professionals in a corporate environment. If you show up at work dressed in shabby or inappropriate clothing, you’re not only eroding your employer’s brand, but also your own.
Get a mentor
A mentor can help shape your career or entrepreneurial journey. The right mentor will guide and help you to grow, by amongst others sharing their wisdom and experience with you so that you can avoid making the same mistakes they did. Choose a mentor based on what you’d like to achieve and learn, in order to realise the goals you’ve set for yourself.
Polish your online presence
Your online behaviour is just as important as how you conduct yourself offline. While being authentic is a crucial part of building a strong personal brand, your social media activities may be doing more harm than good. It may seem fun, even harmless, to post those party and holiday snaps on social media. The reality is that some prospective employers now conduct online searches on potential candidates and those search results may influence their recruitment decisions. Google yourself. The results are what others see when they look you up online.
By following the tips above and others, such as being authentic and building strategic relationships, you’ll reap the immense benefits that come with having a respected brand. A strong personal brand can elevate your career or business, and opens up a world of opportunities to make your mark in the world. You have the choice to be the Apple of your industry or just another brand whose name no one cares to remember.
*Catherine Shipushu is a public relations and branding specialist. She can be contacted at [email protected]