When we think of a brand, corporate giants like Coca Cola or Nike might spring to mind. But there’s a very important brand that’s much closer to home, and much more personal. If you look in the mirror, you will see this brand looking right back at you – you!
While building a personal brand might feel like a vanity project, it is your unique identity that is your greatest tool when embarking on a career path. Like your fingerprint, your personal brand sets you apart from everyone around you and helps communicate to prospective employers your suitability for a role.
Ultimately, it’s important to brand yourself before others brand you, and this is about establishing a great reputation that precedes you – as Amazon founder Jeff Bezos once said, “Branding is what people say about you when you are not in the room”. In short, your brand is what people see, think and feel about you when they come into contact with your name.
The digital age has made having a strong and authentic identity all the more important.
The indelible ink of the internet means what goes online stays online. With entrepreneur.com reporting that 90 percent of recruiters conduct online research of potential candidates, a compelling online profile is all the more important, although it is definitely only part of the professional puzzle.
So with the knowledge that your personal brand is as valuable, if not more valuable, than your resume given the latter’s fairly one-dimensional nature, here are some top tips to bolster your brand so that people choose you, hire you and promote you:
- Squeaky clean social media: living in the digital age comes with some important responsibility, namely, how to protect your reputation. While it is important to portray yourself as you are, just remember that posting provocative material – imagery, comments or subscribing to certain kinds of content – can easily be taken out of context and reflect poorly on your character. To that end, think carefully about your online image and ensure it does justice to your personality. If you use these tools wisely, they can become your greatest promotional assets. You can broaden your online horizons to include a website too – this can provide a great platform for a dynamic CV – one that uses multi-media like a slideshow of your work, or a video of yourself.
- Network: the expression ‘it takes a village’ is just as relevant to your career as it is to childrearing. No one has ever become successful in isolation, and while ‘social climbing’ is never flattering, building robust, reliable and reciprocal strategic partnerships is very healthy for your personal brand. Seek out industry movers and shakers that you can learn from, who inspire you, and who you respect. Work experience is very valuable because you can make an impression from the get-go. Genuine relationships will always be built on integrity and trust so don’t rush in, take your time to establish connections that will go the distance. It’s impossible to overstate how valuable strong allies can be in helping to spread the word of your potential and what you can offer.
- Practice makes perfect: passion is a huge part of your personal brand so having a genuine love for your chosen career path is absolutely essential if you want employers to take your brand and bid for work seriously. Integral to this is doing all you can to excel in this area – lean into the challenge. Pursue training, practice, and persevere through the hard times.