What exactly is personal branding? In short, it is the story that you create around your own professional and personal life — and the one that you can present when making a career change or going for a new promotion within your current company. A personal brand story includes experience, education, soft skills, work ethos and personal achievements that bring your professional story to life. For example, look at the entrepreneur Richard Branson. When you think of the founder of Virgin Group, his story and public image come through loud and clear — and as such, is a perfect example of an effective personal brand. Branson is forward thinking, entrepreneurial, a philanthropist and an innovator. These are the personal brands that he has cultivated and presented to the public. Use the following to ensure your personal brand story is consistent, strong and compelling for when you apply for the next great job vacancy.
Focus on a common thread
As an experienced professional, you should have a common thread that links all of your experiences and interests, even if you have changed industries or made a bigger change in career direction. Think of transferable skills, education, similar roles or similar tasks. You can choose which parts of your career and background to focus on, which to highlight and let that thread lead to your next promotion or new role.
Curate your social media presence
Use social media to establish your presence as a thought leader within your industry. LinkedIn is an excellent place to share industry insights, write thought leadership articles and join community discussions. Your activity on social media influences how people see you, and contributes to your overall brand story. Within your LinkedIn profile, arrange your experience and skills in a way that furthers the narrative you’ve chosen for your brand story.
Use networking and industry events
Look out for networking events or conferences and seek out panel speaking opportunities to help build your profile as a subject matter expert. With the spread of companies like General Assembly, which offer classes to people in subjects taught by professionals in that industry, it’s possible to build up your brand as someone who really knows what they are talking about. If you’re a product manager, teach a course to aspiring PMs, or use your years of marketing experience to secure a guest speaker spot.
Think about blogging
You don’t have to be a natural writer to build up a blog presence. Start with short thoughts, observations and insights into your industry and current events to show that you’re up on what’s going on. With an abundance of professional writing platforms from Medium to WordPress and LinkedIn Publishing, it’s easy to create an online blog presence that reflects your career growth and business knowledge.
Let your personality show through
In today’s age of behavioural job interviews and a tendency to favour open-ended questions, it’s OK to let a little personality show through. Love to run? Let people know about it. A personal brand is your personal image, and letting your personality shine through ensures your brand is real.
Finally, a few questions to ask
If you’re having trouble figuring out your unique personal brand story, start by asking yourself the following questions: What is the overall theme of my career? If I was writing a career story, what would it be? What transferable skills do I have?
It’s all about branding
In a competitive job market, an effective personal brand will do a lot of the work for you. Finding new career opportunities is dependent on your ability to market yourself as a professional and an expert at what you do. Your personal brand story will help you stand out from the rest when applying to job vacancies.
This article is contributed by Michael Page.