You have probably heard about personal branding. It’s one of the key terms people use when they are talking about career growth. In my opinion it’s also one of the most important ways to establish yourself as an expert and to build a strong foundation for your future. I understand that building an effective personal brand when you’re in your twenties and just starting out with your career may sound overwhelming. It’s not an easy thing to do. But with a little advice it’s totally doable. That’s why I wrote you this little guide about getting started with personal branding. This post is actually the first post of my new blog series “Personal Branding Month”. In June I’m going to publish several blog post about this fascinating topic. I hope I can help you to build that strong and authentic personal brand you’ve always dreamed about.
It’s about telling your story – but not the whole story
I have always been interested in marketing and brands. Writing and story-telling have always been my passions and combining them with marketing has been a game-changer when you think about building a strong personal brand. I strongly believe that building a personal brand is about telling a story. Your brand is like your story in a nice little package that is very easy for other people to understand. It’s your way to communicate clearly about your core values, your goals and your expertise. It helps people to immediately understand who you are, what you do and what are you willing to do.
This may sound like a hard thing to do since we are all so complex and most of us have multiple passions. But it’s not hard. And it gets even easier when you understand that your personal brand is not you. It’s not who you are. It’s only one part of who you are. This thought has helped me to build a stronger and simpler personal brand.
On the other hand this means that you need to make some choices. You can’t add all those tiny details into your personal brand. You must decide what you are going to include in it and what you are going to keep for yourself. Unless you have a clear vision about yourself and your future, this can be hard. That’s why I think the first step of building your personal brand is to set your own focus. Ask yourself questions like.
- What’s my big vision? Where I want to be in 5 years?
- What is my current industry and do I want to be known as an expert in this field?
- If not, what is the industry you are more interested in?
- What are the skills I should highlight to accomplish my vision?
When you know what your goal is it’s much easier to make choices about what to include in your personal brand.
Don’t be afraid to get personal
Even though your personal brand is mostly a professional tool, you shouldn’t be afraid of showing people who you really are. Your personal values, motivators, hobbies and your attitude are all things that you should add into your personal brand. Your personality combined with your big vision is what makes you unique. You don’t have to share things you want to keep private but telling people about your core values is important, because in order to find your own tribe people need to know what motivates you and how you think about the world around you.
I think you should remember though that oversharing is as bad as not sharing. You want to keep your personal brand nice and clear. So adding irrelevant details about your hobbies in high school or about your love to cat videos is not necessary. Only mention hobbies, activities and values that are supporting your professional goals and your big vision. Someone once said to me that not telling about something is dishonest. But I don’t think so. I think we all have such complex personalities and I honestly believe that if I tried to add my whole personality into my personal brand…well, that brand would be a 500-page novel! And I also think no one would want to read that novel. That’s why I think it’s better to keep it as simple as possible.
Communicate clearly about your vision and then share couple of personal things that make sense with your goals and vision.
3 Strategies to Personal Branding
I like to think there are 3 different strategies to personal branding. The basic things like telling your story and sharing your values stay the same no matter what strategy you choose. But the approach to the personal branding is a little different in all of these three strategies.
1. Your personal brand is based on your current job
If you like your current job and if it’s what you want to do it’s totally okay to build a personal brand that is based on your current job. That means that you describe yourself as a “group controller at Company X” or “marketing director at Company B”. If that’s what describes you the best and you are not willing to change that, it’s totally okay to do that. You can still have a blog, you should still share content on social media, but most of the content you are sharing should be about your current job or about the company you’re working at.
If you want to strengthen your role in the company and to establish your expertise as an employee of this certain company this strategy is your way to go. Your employers will probably highly appreciate this kind of approach to your own personal brand. They will see you as a well-committed and hard-working employee who is proud to be part of the organization. And honestly, I believe this is a great way to impress your boss.
Of course, it’s a bit risky to build a personal brand that is based on your current role in this certain company. It can help you to land exactly the same role in another company but potential employers may have a hard time trying to imagine you doing anything else. And as long as it’s not your own company, there’s always a risk that there won’t be a job for you forever.
2. Your personal brand is based on your whole career path
If your current job is not what you want from your life, this strategy is probably right for you. It’s also the most popular strategy. Building a personal brand that is based on your whole career path is the right strategy for most twenty-somethings out there. Because I bet most of us don’t want to work in that entry-level position at the same company forever. If you have this big vision you’re not near yet, take this strategy and make the most of it.
What it means is that you should share content and develop skills that are based on your big career goals and on you chosen career path and not necessarily on your current job. You want to show other people that even though you’re not there yet, you have what it takes to climb to the top. It’s all about faking it until you make it. If you are working as an accountant but you dream about starting your own jewelry brand, you should focus on branding yourself as a jewelry designer and not as an accountant.
This kind of approach to personal branding helps other people to see you as an expert of your desired field. There is a risk though that your current employer doesn’t like it when it’s so clear that you are dreaming about another career path.
3. Your personal brand is based on you and not on your work
This last strategy is a little different. If you are a blogger, an influencer or somehow very charismatic person who wants to be known as being you (like celebs), this strategy is for you. This is much more personal way to brand yourself than those two other strategies. And this only works if you and your own personality are somehow so unique that people should know you and not the work you do. I think this kind of strategy is an exceptional and shouldn’t be used lightly.
Are you an opinionated person? Do you blog about your own everyday life? Are you ready to expose your own private life to other people? Well, then this strategy may work for you. If you’re not, I recommend choosing another strategy to build your personal brand.
How do you feel about personal branding? What kind of strategy do you use when building your personal brand?