For Jeff Bezos, CEO of Amazon, personal brand is what people say about you when you’re not in the room. And while Jeff is spot on, it’s a little difficult to know what people are saying about you when you’re not there, so, I prefer to talk about personal brand as the intersection of who you aspire to be, how you are perceived by others, and who you really are as a person. A personal brand is not fluff, or buzzwords or keywords on a resume. It’s deeper than that. You’re deeper than that.
Building the brand of YOU!
The key to finding what you want is knowing what you want. A strong personal brand has clearly defined goals. They are also very clear about the skills and experience that they posses and are so clear that they have examples to support their accomplishments. A strong personal brand embraces strengths and weaknesses and works to build on the strengths and diminish the weaknesses. The best personal brands are unapologetic about their accomplishments, strengths, and weaknesses.
When you know who you aspire to be, how you are perceived and who you really are, you need to be consistent in presenting that picture in every facet of your digital, social, and work life. Which is why it is critical to be who you really are. It is far too exhausting to be someone you aren’t all the time!
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Getting your personal brand on point.
First, let’s talk about your digital footprint. Where do you post information about yourself online? My guess is a lot of places. You need to take a look at all the places you can be found online and make sure that those profiles reflect your personal brand. Even in places like Facebook, you can still have fun and be yourself while staying on brand.
Remember, part of your personal brand is being who you really are. That being said, mind your images or adjust your privacy settings accordingly. You’re also probably on LinkedIn. When someone looks at your profile, do they get a full picture of your personal brand? Are the groups you are a member up ladder up to who you aspire to be? What kind of content are you sharing or creating? Which leads me to my next brand hack:
Curating great content.
All the things that you are passionate about as a professional should be shared with your network. Use Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram, or whatever social tool you wish to share great professional content that supports your personal brand. It is a wonderful way to be found and noticed and it builds your brand in a more broad way. I share a lot of content about happiness and productivity. I also share a lot of content about startups and the job search. I also love to laugh and adore irony. All of these things are very much aligned with my personal brand.
But your brand isn’t only online. It is in your conversations with your team and managers. It is on display each and every day you come to work and how you communicate with your peers (psst – and the content you share with them). It is in the questions you ask and the ideas you share.
And never, ever stop managing it. Like any brand it is living and changing and growing with you. You must invest time in your brand. To be sure you are earning and maintaining your brand equity, spend time each quarter adding to your profiles. You should add new information to your LinkedIn profile. You should be updating your resume all the time. You should be storing your best work in a special folder on your computer in the cloud.
Having a consistent and defined personal brand is a great way to stand out. It is a new way to do things and it takes a little thought and time. But it is ultimately worth it as you will find that over time, you become more discerning about the work you take on and the opportunities you are attracted to because you know specifically what you want out of your career and you only want things that will advance your personal brand.