When I first heard about personal branding it seemed a really strange term. Why was I trying to brand myself? What was I actually supposed to be selling? Did branding myself mean turning me into someone I’m not?
I had so many questions and ultimately, I realised that personal branding is just that – personal.
The key to developing a good personal brand is knowing yourself and actually asking questions about yourself.
Personal branding is about leaving people with an impression of you which is both positive, and reflective of what you bring to the table, whether that first impression takes place over 20 seconds or 20 minutes.
Personal branding is important. You want to walk out the room and have people going ‘wow, they were really confident’ or ‘interesting’ or ‘open-minded’, or any positive characteristic that you think you have.
I remember thinking – how do I do that?
How do I show the best side of me, the things that I think make me who I am, when people always make their own judgements anyway?
Someone shared to me the secret. The secret is consistency.
Think about the qualities you have and want other people to notice, and show them and develop them consistently.
If you want to come across as confident, you need that to come across in your everyday life. Personal branding isn’t effective if one day you come across as really confident, but the next day you’re really shy because the office set up has changed or you’ve been given something challenging or new to do.
A good way to work out what you want your personal brand to be is to think about two questions:
- What do I think people think of me or remember me as?
- What do I want people to think of me or remember me as?
Often you will find there are a lot of characteristics that overlap in these two questions.
I remember when I first thought about my personal branding I was quite negative about myself. I didn’t feel very confident in myself and I thought that most people would consider me quiet and shy. It wasn’t until I given feedback by someone I worked with that I came across as confident, approachable and assertive, I realised that I actually had some of the characteristics that I wanted other people to notice me having.
I think sometimes asking your friends or the people you work with about what their impressions of you have been can help. It seems weird and I completely understand that it can be tricky to ask people what they really think of you but sometimes it is the most helpful way to see what stands out about you and what you can work on.
Focus on your strengths and what makes you you! Personal branding is not about being someone you’re not, but about making sure that people see you for all your potential.
Leading on from this, you put yourself in a better position for discovering what your unique selling point is (USP).
For interviews, your first job, making the right impression, your USP is the most important thing!
Take a moment to think, what is the one thing that most stands out about me? What’s something that makes me a little bit different? What can I bring to the table that others might not?
This can be anything, from charismatic public speaking to exceptional leadership, or a niche interest such as a foreign language that not everyone learns or a period of history you are really interested in.
There is such a stereotype that businesses want clones but actually what they want is to see you as an individual; someone who will benefit their business and who clients find interesting and want to talk to, relate to.
Finally, focus on your professional side. Often your professional side will be different to your personal side, and that’s ok. We all have to put on a different persona when we go to work and sometimes that can be a good thing. When you leave work you can leave your professional persona there, and let your hair loose at home. The important thing is that you remain consistent in how you want to be perceived at work and for me that was the main thing in sitting down and working out how I wanted to be perceived and how I could come across like that.
Personal brand is all about first impressions, continued impressions and impressing. People with a strong personal brand are more likely to impress at interview and in assessment centres, so if you haven’t already, get working on yours!