What do you think of when you think of personal branding?
Do you think of Kim Kardashian kissy faces?
Or endless hours curating your Instagram feed?
Or do you think of slimey self promotion?
Personally, I think about the folks who just word vomit all of their accomplishments on Facebook, how they meal prepped for the next month and just how many push ups they did at the gym. Oh, and don’t forget the onslaught of perfectly airbrushed photos of their 10th vacation this year.
And on thatttt note…. I’ll be logging out of Facebook for the next year. Thankyouverymuch.
Anyone else relate?!
You also probably know someone in your circle that crosses the boundary into self promotion, so when you hear personal branding you push that plate away and think “Nope. No way. Not for me. I am NOT a self promoter.”
But here’s the thing, after a ton of research, I realized that building a personal brand is NOT the same thing as self promotion. Building a personal brand is actually a really beautiful way to tell your authentic story, confidently share your accomplishments and attract a tribe of folks who are like-minded.
A personal brand is how you choose to market yourself and your career…as if it were a brand.
That’s right. Even if you work in finance or HR, you still have to market yourself. Whether you like it or not, your job hunt, your career, and your networking depend on how you market yourself.
Marketing’s not your thing? No worries. I got you. We can work through this together.
- Know your audience – Are you a college student looking for an internship? Are you looking for a career shift? Are you becoming a thought leader in your industry? Knowing who you are marketing to will help shape how you want to position yourself.
- Find your niche – You can’t be all things to all people. What do you want to be known for? A great way to figure this out – see what people are already asking for you feedback or advice on.
- Be yourself – Nobody likes a slimy car salesman, and that’s not at all what we are going for here. We want to package who you truly are and what you are actually passionate about in a way that’s appealing to your audience. We don’t want to fake it. Be a real person. Speak from the heart. And throw your personality in there!
- Stay on message – Yes, throw some personal bits in there to humanize yourself. But when it comes to career, stay on message. If you want to position yourself as an HR benefits pro, you don’t need to spend time talking about your retail experience or how you’re really good at
- Showcase your brand – Once you know how you want to market yourself, you need a venue to do so. LinkedIn is a great place to start — and you know it’s my personal fave. I have a free LinkedIn summary template for you! But it goes beyond LinkedIn. Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, and a personal website can all be huge assets for your personal brand.
Having a personal brand is strategic. Smart. It’s value add. It’s empowering AND, it’s the way of the future.
Here’s what a personal brand is not:
- Shameless self promotion
- A way to become famous
- A passing fad
- An easy way to success
Done well, a personal brand is just a tool that can enhance your career, boost your confidence, bring you clarity on your direction, and refine your influence.
So how DO you build a personal brand that isn’t all about self promotion?
First thing’s first: I hate to break it to you, you already have a personal brand – whether you like it or not. Your personal brand is your reputation, what you’re known for, what people seek you out about.
It’s what people say about you behind closed doors. It’s how you’re perceived in the marketplace. So then the question becomes – how do you make sure that the personal brand narrative is aligned with how you WANT to be perceived.
A true personal brand is an audit of your passions, gifts, strengths, capabilities, and personality attributes…and how that can then bring value to others.
Did you hear me?
It’s not just about you.
It’s about how YOU can serve OTHERS.
So ultimately, an articulate, confident personal brand is just getting you a step closer to reaching the right people who need your unique type of genius.
Take some time today to write down how you believe you’re being perceived. I always ask my clients – what do people say about you in reviews? Okay, now do you want to be known for that?
I had a client who told me she was always told that she was the girl who could get stuff done. She was assertive and professional and could handle herself with multiple leaders and personalities.
While those were compliments, she was tired of always being the “make it happen girl”. She wanted to be seen as strategic and visionary…so she had to pivot her brand internally.
Think back to your own reviews, past managers, or current colleagues – how would they describe you? Are you okay with that? If not, it may be time to do some work on yourself AND your brand.
We mentioned this earlier, but building a personal brand is tailoring your message so that you can really reach the people you want to be connected to…and the ones you are destined to help.
Ultimately if done correct, building a personal brand is all about creating Influence, providing Impact, and building a Community.
Folks who have great personal brands have great influence on people’s lives. Look at Oprah, for instance. She is the queen of personal branding – heck you don’t even need to say her last name because you know it could only mean Oprah – of the Winfrey variety. But what makes her personal brand so influential is that it’s NOT all about her. When you think of Oprah, you think of trailblazer, you think of encourager, you think empowering, you think of philanthropist. Here’s the deal: her personal brand is not just to self promote (though she knows how to celebrate her own accomplishments!) – it’s about lifting up and influencing people to come alongside her. Look at her book club that celebrates amazing authors. Or her golden touch with her seasonal “Favorite Things” episode. Her influence help catapult brands like Spanx into the success they experience today.
Her personal brand is all about influencing people to be the best they can be.
Let’s think about Richard Branson. He is the poster boy of someone with a powerful personal brand that focuses on Impact. His personality is infectious, playful, and you feel like you know him. Not only that, he is known for his values of innovation, encouraging fellow entrepreneurs, and quality service. He creates great impact wherever he goes.
Again, his personal brand isn’t just self serving, but about using his name to create bigger impact on the world.
And finally, building an authentic, successful personal brand is all about the Community you foster. It’s not about creating an island of one, but rather a space where people feel welcome, can open up, and connect. Think about Sheryl Sandberg, the COO of Facebook and author of the book LeanIn. She’s become a pillar and pioneer for working women, encouraging them to raise their hand and confidently own their capabilities. But she didn’t do it just to make a name for herself.
No, she’s creating a community of women who are gathering across the globe to support each other and get after their ambitions.
So for you – who do you want to influence? What do you want to impact? What type of community do you want to cultivate?
That’s the way to build a personal brand. That’s the way engage, inspire, and succeed.
So regardless of where you are in your career — in school, looking for a job, working towards a promotion, etc. — developing your personal brand should be a priority.
Want to dig in a little deeper? I made a workbook for you!
Personal Branding 101
May 23, 2019