Everything You Need to Know: Personal Branding

Everyone wants to be that guy (or girl).

To be everywhere, to be talked about, to be head-hunted and hounded for quotes, follows, advice and comments. It’s not magic, there’s no fairy dust or under-the-table dealings (there could be, but we don’t engage in that sort of thing) – nope, becoming known and wanted all comes down to a discipline we love dearly.


Isn’t Branding a Business Thing?

Short answer: Not anymore.

Longer answer: Branding was the protected territory of companies and organisations prior to the social advent of digitisation. Back in the hey-day of afternoon scotch and typing pools, creative teams worked tirelessly to articulate the working DNA of an organisation for internal and external distribution. Messaging strategies, core identities, values, missions and visions all kicked off and ended at the behest of the collective.

But Why Build a Personal Brand?

There’s a few different reasons why personal branding has taken top prize in the career development toolkit.

Job-Hopping is Popping

First and foremost, the way we progress professionally has changed. We no longer plug away at the same company for 30 plus years; indeed, job hopping can be perceived as a positive, particularly when the applicant continues to hop up and up and up the ladder, taking on new responsibilities and achieving big things.

The Time Mine

Fact: Employers and recruiters use our affinity with social media against us. Most people have some sort of social presence, usually centred around the Big 4 – LinkedIn, Twitter, Instagram and Facebook. The good news? We can control what they see by creating a professional persona, strictly curating what kind of content we produce, like, follow and share, building a profile to suit our ambitious little needs.

People as Products

You are a product. Your skills, abilities and professional offerings are points of consumption, quality checked by KPIs and performance reviews. Above, we touched on the end of the Company Loyalty era – well, it goes both ways. The market is now saturated with people who can do your job better than you can…you need a difference. You need to stand out. You need a brand to go with the product.

We all have different visions for the future. Figuring out your ultimate ‘why’ will help you put together a plan of action, using personal branding as a trigger.

How Does Personal Branding Work?

We all cultivate a branded image whether we mean to or not. It doesn’t matter if you’ve decided this personal branding shtick isn’t for you – your participation in the market, in addition to your workplace, is defined by your actions internally and externally… sound familiar yet?  Let’s lay down a few branding fundamentals for an easier ah-hah moment.

Ready-Made Mission: What is your primary professional goal this year?

Big Picture Vision: Do you have a two or five year plan?

Values: Do you want people to think you’re reliable? Thorough? Detail orientated? Energetic? Committed? We all have our favourite adjectives; pick four or five and bam…professional values.

Messaging: Imagine for a minute that you’re a senior SEO executive and you’ve decided to update your LinkedIn for the New Year. How do you describe yourself?

a) Dedicated SERP Overlord
b) Experienced SEO Analyst
c) Bad Arse Rank Wrangler


So… How Do You Build a Personal Brand?

1. Who Are You?

If you’re straight-laced, claim it; it you’re a talker, claim it; if you’re a witty smart arse, claim that too. Strip away the job descriptions and work titles. After you pin-point your who, make sure the same tone bounces throughout the rest of your communication, from your emails to your morning greeting.

2. What Do You Do Differently?

Most go-to PODs (points of difference) aren’t really PODs. They’re stuff we do well. Instead of advertising your bread and butter services as premium offerings, consider your goals and diversify your skillset by tapping into an emerging sub-field. Make sure it’s relevant to where you see yourself in five years.

3. Why Are You Doing This?

Do you want to… earn three promotions in three years? Become a department head? Be published across various recognisable sites? Present a TED talk? Run a seminar or be asked to chair a panel?

We all have different visions for the future. Figuring out your ultimate ‘why’ will help you put together a plan of action, using personal branding as a trigger.

4. Your Personal Branding Plan – Edit Where and When Necessary

Step 1) Create relevant content, focusing on existing skillsets and thought pieces around new approaches, rumours and opinions, add value where possible.

Step 2) Create a Platform – Facebook, LinkedIn and professional skewed blogs can all work in tandem.

Step 3) Publish content and distribute.

Step 4) Be digitally and communally present – join groups and forums, comments on threads, share perspectives, engage in debate and lend help where applicable. Be accessible and build currency.

Step 5) Attend relevant events, including networking seminars, panels and workshops.

Step 6) Always learn and report any findings, displaying initiative and investment in continual evolution.[/vc_column_text][vc_column_text]

The Last Word

Personal Branding can be hard work. Sure, in the beginning it’s shiny and new, you may be excited by early successes or an increase in followers… but at some point, you’ll face the same fatigue a lot of companies and individuals go through. Our advice? Push through it. Not many do. Lagging interest can be the kryptonite of a lot of great work. Stick with it and reap the rewards of patience, perseverance and good old fashioned scrappiness.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][vc_column width=”1/6″][/vc_column][/vc_row]

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