“I haven’t got a personal brand yet,” a candidate mentioned to me the other day.
“Have you got a LinkedIn account? Facebook?” I asked.
“Sure,” she replied.
“Well then you have got a personal brand.” I pointed out.
Just because you haven’t taken yourself through a branding process, doesn’t mean that what’s out there on the internet about you is not part of your ‘personal brand’ communications – it is, and it may not be very effective. A personal brand no longer rests exclusively in a CV. Yes, our resumes still play an important part of communicating our personal brand – but our online presence is far more easily accessible, and is most likely to be an earlier port of call by a headhunter or prospective employer. So you need to ensure that your social media profiles enhance your career development by effectively promoting a well-conceived, clear and winning personal brand.
The Personal Branding Process
There are many advantages to undertaking a personal branding process. The output of this exercise is a focused personal brand positioning statement that articulates your unique value, and informs all of your other career marketing communications. You can go through the process on your own, but it often helps to have the insights of a coach, a personal brand strategist or others who know you well and have experienced your value at work.
A critical part of the process is to give a lot of thought to your strengths, skills and talents. You need to have a keen awareness of the stories you tell about yourself and the ways you describe your qualities. This includes being able to critically assess your advantages and disadvantages when it comes to your education and your experience.
It is important to keep in mind that your personal brand positioning statement is not something that you want to tell others about yourself – it’s about what you can do for them, and it needs to be formulated from their perspective, not yours.
Your personal brand positioning statement needs to be a short, highly focused ‘sound bite’ that clearly and concisely provides the answers to the following three questions:
- Who is the target audience which benefits from your work?
- How do you help them?
- How do you do this differently from others with similar qualifications and experience?
In answering these questions, and in the writing of your personal brand positioning statement, it is vital that you are authentic. Do not fall into the trap of writing what you think people want to hear. Do not be tempted to oversell yourself. Winning brands are always able to effortlessly live up to the promise that their positioning statement makes. Courage and confidence in presenting yourself for applications, interviews and reviews follows on from being authentic in the way you first introduced yourself.
Your personal brand positioning statement can be used as the ‘opening act’ on your CV, or as your key introduction in emails and letters of interest. It should feature prominently on your social media profiles and be consistently carried through to all the elements of your career marketing materials. From this statement, you may also want to distil a personal brand tagline that is striking, memorable and smart.
The great value of making the effort to go through an organised process to establish your personal brand is that you are more likely to come up with the thoughts, ideas and descriptions that will help you to stand out amidst the oceans of talent available in the global market-place.