Personal branding. Though the term was created nearly two decades ago by Tom Peters, personal branding remains an important strategy for today’s executive. In fact, when done correctly, personal branding is an asset and should be used as a tool in your job search. And, if you ask Forbes, it is even a leadership requirement.
What is a personal brand?
Let’s look at what personal branding is first. Your personal brand is the public persona that represents who you are, what you believe and, more importantly in this context, the value you deliver to a potential employer. According to Executive Career Brand, your personal brand also includes the qualifications, strengths, key attributes, values and passions that are unique to you. Think of your personal brand as your trademark. No one else is like you.
In his article “Personal Branding is a Leadership Requirement, Not a Self-Promotion Campaign” for Forbes, Glenn Llopis explains personal branding as “a full-time commitment to the journey of defining yourself as a leader and how this will shape the manner in which you will serve others.” He says your personal brand should represent the value you consistently deliver to those you serve, including employers, colleagues and staff.
Creating your brand
So how do you identify and hone your brand? In his article “The Brand Called You,” Tom Peters recommends that you determine your brand first:
- Identify the qualities and characteristics that distinguish you from others in your field. What have you done that differentiates you from everyone else? What are your greatest strengths? What do you offer that is unique?
- Now think about what value you bring to a potential employer. What have you achieved that you’re proud of and that no one else can claim? For example, did you lead a research team in creating a new healthcare product that has the potential to save lives? Have you taken your company from red to black during an economic downturn?
Promoting your brand
Once you’ve defined yourself from a business perspective, identify ways to become more visible: teach (or take) a class, attend a networking event, take on a side project, join your local chamber of commerce or a nonprofit board, co-chair a charity event, or join a professional or civic club. All of these activities will raise your profile, and expand your network of contacts. Just keep in mind that wherever you go, you are representing your personal brand, so your actions and behavior should be genuine and adequately reflect the brand you want to communicate.
You can also raise your visibility via social media, but do so deliberately. LinkedIn is probably the best networking tool to use for business purposes. In future posts, we’ll write about how to optimize your LinkedIn profile. You might also create a business page for Facebook or a Twitter account where you can share your accomplishments and expertise, as well as share posts from others. We like the 80/20 rule for social media content: 80% informational, 20% promotional.
Again, the key is that this is your brand – not a place for you to shout your political beliefs from the rooftops. If you haven’t already had your work published, consider writing for a medical journal, publishing a white paper, writing for a local publication, or serving as an expert source for a story. If you’re a subject matter expert, you could also start a blog to share your expertise and increase your exposure. The focus should be geared toward showcasing your expertise and value.
You are only limited by your imagination. As long as you present a consistent brand, you’ll grow your reputation along with your audience – a helpful strategy when searching for another professional position.
Maintaining your brand
Once you’ve developed your brand, you need to promote and maintain that brand consistently across all channels, including your résumé, social media accounts, published work, etc.
“Managing your personal brand requires you to be a great role model, mentor, and/or a voice that others can depend on,” Llopis says. “…over time the responsibility becomes a natural and instinctual part of who you are. This is the mindset you must develop and the level of accountability you must assume when deciding to define, live and manage your personal brand. Every day you must deliver to a standard of expectation that you have set forth for both yourself and those you serve.”
We encourage you to identify and create your brand, do some additional research on personal branding, and create a plan to increase your exposure using the tips above. Let us know how you did in the comments section. Good luck!
Chief Executive Officer