In 1997 Tom Peters wrote a seminal article titled “The Brand Called You”, for Fast Company Magazine, which introduced the concept of Personal Branding to a wider audience. Despite it being written more than 15 years ago, before many of the social media channels that are now considered essential for Personal Branding were even a twinkle in their creators’ eye, much of what he discusses in the article still rings true. Indeed, Mr. Jordi Robert-Ribes, professional speaker and networking expert from Networking and Business, member of the chamber, asserts that most of the aspects brought to light in the article are even more relevant today.
Nevertheless, you may be a bit unsure of what a Personal Brand actually is. Essentially, it is a collection of your values and unique selling points that differentiate you from everyone else and set you apart from the crowd. It should have a meaning beyond your name and encompass the total experience of having a working relationship with you and what you stand for. It should be unique and authentic, and it should be managed as an asset that people have access to through a relationship with you. It can include everything from your manners and etiquette, to the way you dress and your performance in the workplace. It should be everything that people associate with you when they hear your name, so it is important to create a strong and positive Personal Brand.
However, it is a long-term project that requires effort and perseverance, so why should you bother to establish your Personal Brand at all? First and foremost, you already have a brand, whether you’re aware of it or not, because everything you say and do contributes towards it. But it is up to you to shape your actions and assets into a coherent and consistent brand, because if you don’t, somebody else will do it for you based on their initial judgements of you. By creating your Personal Brand before anyone else does you can have control over your image. Moreover, having a Personal Brand can increase your self-awareness by helping you to identify the value that you can bring to a client or business and it can help you to create that all-important first impression.
The first step is to create your Personal Brand by identifying what makes you different; your motivations, strengths, skills and values. What can you offer that no one else can? If you’re struggling to come up with the answer to this question, try asking friends, colleagues, managers and even your family what your strengths are and use their responses to decide what people would want to know about you and why they would want to work with you. Your perception of yourself and the perception your friends have of you should be the same, or at least similar, otherwise you may not have an accurate image of yourself and your abilities and it could be time to go back to the drawing board and work on your self-awareness.
Once you have figured out what your Personal Brand is, you have to establish it and communicate it to others. One of the most obvious ways to do this is through your online presence. Your Facebook, Linkedin and Twitter should all be consistent with your Brand and the message you’re trying to communicate. Use a search engine to search yourself and see what comes up. Be ruthless in editing and deleting anything that doesn’t match your brand, the information available on you should be consistent. You should also contribute to discussions on social media and consider writing a blog on your area of expertise. In increasing your online footprint you are more likely to move up through the search engine rankings. You want to be at the top of the search results when your name is typed in.
Next, you need to think about how you present yourself in person, from your handshake to the shine of your shoes. You only get one chance at a first impression, so make it a good one. Consider your wardrobe; you should appear smart and professional, but also with an element of your own style. In addition, minute details about your body language and manners are under scrutiny from the moment you meet someone, it’s human nature to judge someone on your first impression of them, so make sure that you come across in a positive way.
Beyond the initial snap-judgement it is important to introduce yourself well. Mr Robert-Ribes advises that “one of the steps you should take to build your own personal brand is having a very good self-introduction. A self-introduction is a memorable single sentence that you can say to people when meeting for the first time. It needs to be memorable so that it helps you build your personal brand.” But he also offers a word of warning, “A common pitfall is to only do something about your personal branding when you are thinking about it. For instance, having a very well-crafted self-introduction that people will remember but continuously doing something that contradicts it. For instance, if your self-introduction tells something along the lines that you are a “reliable professional” but you arrive always five minutes late to meetings, your brand will be about lateness not about being on time.”
Indeed, when it comes to Personal Branding consistency is key. Once you have established your brand and made a good introduction, you then have to build and maintain it. Get your brand out there by attending networking events and activities like Elevator Pitches, these events are the ideal setting to try out and perfect your self-introduction statement. Once you have engaged someone, use story-telling to create a unique experience for them instead of just regurgitating facts from your CV. Try using the STAR technique (situation, task, action, result) to paint the bigger picture for them and litter your stories with objective proof, such as figures or recognition, to make it more credible.
But it is not just your words that communicate your Personal Brand, your actions should be consistent with it as well. For instance, you should think about your brand when you are faced with a task or opportunity at work. Plan how you want to come across during the project, and carry yourself as such throughout. If you don’t think you’re getting the opportunity to develop your skills or to push your personal brand in the direction you would like, suggest projects that would allow you to do this. You should have some goals in mind when thinking about your personal brand, about where you would like your brand to go and the best way to go about doing this. Talking to a mentor or someone with a Personal Brand that you admire could give you some good ideas and help you to develop your brand.
In conclusion, your Personal Brand is everything you say and do, everything that is written about you online and everything someone thinks of when they hear your name. Thus, it is essential that your Personal Brand is positive and reflects well on you. Mr. Robert-Ribes asserts that it is very important in the current economy, where it is unlikely that we will be working for the same corporation for our entire career and that even to move within your current company, having a strong personal brand is vital. After all, it is your Personal Brand that exposes you to new clients and revenue and builds your professional reputation, so it is worth taking the time to establish, cultivate and maintain it.
If you are looking for an opportunity to network and get your Personal Brand out there, make sure you check our Upcoming Events page or sign up to our weekly newsletter, so you can find information on our upcoming networking events.
We would like to say a special thank you to Mr. Jordi Robert-Ribes, from Networking and Business, for his collaboration on this post.