I was giving a workshop on Career Development last week and the issue of Personal Branding came up. Everyone in the room understood the concept of branding, but knowing where to start building a Personal Brand wasn’t as clear. So today I’m going to give 5 pointers on how you can build your Personal Brand.
Why does Personal Branding matter?
In todays working-world we don’t rely on job titles to convey what a person is capable of. Years ago you got the job because you were an accountant, or a nurse, or an engineer. These days, while industries are becoming increasingly more specific, most roles are becoming far more generalised. With the increase in start-ups and smaller businesses, people are on the look out for the right people, not the right role.
Years ago your academic qualifications and your professional experience got you 95% of the way towards the job. Nowadays its far less. Employers look more at the portfolio of the skills that an employee might have and what that mix will bring to their organisation. Promoting yourself is key and the best way to do this, is by developing your own Personal Brand.
“But I HATE self promotion“.
I hear this all of the time and it makes me sad. Lots of women feel like this and its unfortunate. They’re usually way more qualified for the roles they didn’t go for, than their male counterparts who did.
Studies show women traditionally tend to work hard and assume the right people will notice their efforts and reward them. In the same studies, men traditionally do the work but, also make sure that they tell the relevant people they’ve done the work. This makes them more likely to get the reward or the promotion. This is known as the confidence gap, and its the reason women need to get comfortable with self-promotion and their Personal Brand.
I would add that self-promotion can feel incredibly cringey at times, but if you want to get ahead it needs to happen. Like most things, the more you do it the easier it gets, so start practicing!
What does this mean in practical terms
The earlier you get into the habit of working on your Brand the better. It shouldn’t be a once off thing, you should try to start good habits as early as possible. It should also be consistent, and not just when you’re looking for a job. With the internet at our fingertips its very easy to see who’s been Personal Brand ‘cramming’, compared to who’s been working on it for a while.
5 ways to build your Personal Brand starting today
You probably have already been working on your Personal Brand without realising it, but just in case, here are my top tips for getting started.
- Buy your name domain name. Getting a personal.ie address is very easy but takes time, as you have to prove you are who you say. It only costs e20 per annum. A personal domain is a great place to host an on-line portfolio, CV or Blog. More importantly its better to have now, than need later.
- Get headshots. If you can go pro, fantastic. Alternatively, sweet talk your most creative friend into helping you set aside some time and take some photos. If you are not comfortable with the straight face-on-shot, (official term I’m sure), work with natural shots and angled shots. Just keep going until you get some you like. These can be used for all of your professional online accounts and applications.
- Get a ‘uniform’. Take some time to establish a ‘go-to’ outfit that you can use for networking, for a job interview or perhaps a presentation. Wear it around at home so its completely comfortable and totally you. Always be ready to present yourself properly at a moments notice.
- Set up a Linked In Account. Even if you’re not job searching right now, get it set up and start populating it. Join relevant groups, connect with relevant people and start engaging. Commit to getting in there and making it work for you.
- Start a Portfolio. Simply put this is the collection of different elements that showcase you. Here you could make sure you have full copies of all of your academic transcripts. If you have completed any additional training, keep a copy of the certs for these too. If you happen to volunteer and have any nice photos of you participating in a project, or even a local newspaper clipping keep them too. Keep a file of it all so if you need it in a hurry it will all be in one place.
These are just 5 simple steps that you can take right now to begin building your own Personal Brand. The earlier you start the more robust it will be, and that is always handy when you’re on a job search.
Also, try and remember that you’re actually presenting your skills and accomplishments, not you the person. Personal Branding is just a modernised, more detailed version of a resume. You only have to promote what you’re comfortable with and whats relevant to your career.