If you had to describe your personal brand, what would it be? Are you the go-to person at your company whenever there’s a difficult task? Are you a trailblazer who loves thinking outside the box and implementing new ideas? Your personal brand not only describes who you are and what’s important to you, but it also helps differentiate the value you bring to your particular role and your company.
Just Google “personal brand” and “career,” and you’ll find more than a billion — yes, that’s BILLION — results on why your brand matters and how to define yours so that you get the results you want. One thing stands out across the board, however; your personal brand is what makes you stand out from the crowd.
Your personal brand can give you a greater competitive advantage in securing your next promotion, raise, Board seat or even a new job. Yet, building the right brand can be tricky. If you’re looking to get ahead and stay ahead this year, here are the secrets to building a brand that will help you at any stage of your career.
Ask Yourself This Question
Personal branding is fundamentally about defining who you are as a person and a leader. But for many, diving into what makes them tick can feel very overwhelming. So instead of tackling big existential questions, start by asking yourself this bite-size question: what is the reputation you’re consciously trying to build?
You enter a room with executive presence, and your personal brand is what you leave behind. It’s how people experience you and what they remember when you’re not there. For example, your executive presence can be confident, poised and decisive, but your personal brand can be a super-responsive team player who always gets things done. Begin by identifying the skills you bring to the table, then ask yourself how you want others to view those qualities. Write down the traits you want to be remembered for and which superlatives you want others to use when talking about you. This will give you a great foundation for defining your personal brand.
As author Simon Sinek once wrote, “Great leaders don’t try to be perfect. They try to be themselves. And that’s what makes them great.” Remember, it’s called a personal brand for a reason, so be true to yourself and your expertise. People equate authenticity to credibility, so don’t try to be someone else or only “fake it ‘til you make it.” They want to get to know the real you — your core strengths, goals and the obstacles you’ve overcome. At ON Point Next Level Leadership, we coach leaders, executives and teams across all industries nationwide on how to understand their weaknesses, leverage their strengths and lead with confidence. It’s only by being authentic to yourself that your true confidence can shine.
Walk the Talk
Once you define your real brand, make sure your actions mirror it. Personal brands, by nature, come with expectations, and your conduct and behaviors should reinforce who you say you are. For instance, if you say you’re a servant leader, what steps have you taken to care for your employees’ personal and professional growth and well-being? If you claim you’re an expert in a certain field, what projects have you done that showcase your strengths in a meaningful way? By aligning your actions with your brand, you will build both trust and a more powerful personal brand.
Keep Your Online Brand On-Brand
You better believe someone is also checking out your online presence to see if it matches your personal brand. 98% of employers say they research job candidates online, and 43% of HR professionals rely on Google to learn more about applicants. That’s why it’s so important that your online brand is on-brand too.
If you say you’re all about leadership development and your professional social media platforms don’t reflect that, an automatic wall goes up. Ultimately, if what you’re saying isn’t what you’re sharing, it’s another opportunity for people to lose trust in you. In order to stay on-brand, make sure your platforms share the messaging you want people to see by asking yourself before you post — does this hurt or help my brand?
Revisit & Refresh It
Lastly, as your life changes, so too will your brand. Revisit your personal brand aspirations yearly or when big milestones happen and refresh them accordingly. New seats and elevations often come with new expectations, so you’ll want to consider if your current personal brand still works for you. If not, how would you like to be known? Maybe it’s time to be more vulnerable, more empathetic or more direct. Starting at new firms or taking on new titles are prime opportunities to hit the reset button and update your brand to fit your new circumstances — while still staying true to you, of course.
If you’re looking to take your career to the Next Level, your personal brand can be one of the keys to driving your success. By building a brand that’s meaningful, genuine and in-tune to your goals, you’ll be able to open doors to new and even greater possibilities.