Learn more about personal branding
No ninja skills required
It’s a common misconception that personal branding is ‘something for the youngsters’ or ‘for social media ninjas’. In actual fact, personal branding is relevant to everyone – of any age, gender and occupation – as you’re about to discover.
What is a personal brand?
It doesn’t matter what business you’re in, people buy people (not literally of course, unless you’re in the oldest business in town). What they’re buying is your personal brand and it works a lot like any other brand, by giving people clues to who you are and what you’re all about in one tidy package – as the video explains.
To put it another way, your personal brand delivers two things: your ‘what’ and your ‘who’.
Your ‘what’ is the factual stuff that lets others know what you bring to the table: what your job is, what company you work for, what sectors you’ve worked in, what tasks you do, what qualifications you have, what experience you have, what results you’ve delivered, etc.
Your ‘who’ is the part that talks about who you are when you’re delivering all that what: the values and beliefs you hold, the things that motivate and drive you, the type of personality you have, the things that make you tick.
Taking that a step further, when you define your brand you set out your ‘what’ and ‘who’ in six key elements, in order to add a little more meat to the bones. Those key elements are:
Your Values are principles by which you live your life, the moral compass you use to define right and wrong. Think of them as the foundations upon which your personal brand is built.
Your Drivers are what you hold to be important to you, the things that motivate you to do what you do, to be who you are, that push you to succeed.
In a nutshell, your Reputation is what you’re known for (or want to be known for), the thing you communicate so clearly people think of it the instant they hear your name.
Your Behaviours are what give you your personality and character. They’re what you say and do as an outward communication of those deeper Values and Drivers.
Your natural talents, the things you excel at, whether technical or behavioural, plus your knowledge and experience – these are your Skills and Strengths. And last, but certainly not least…
Your Image is the packaging for your brand – how you look (your clothes, body language, eye contact), how you sound (your tone of voice, volume, language) and how you act. Your Image is where people access your brand, gathering clues to the other five elements.
Why is a personal brand important?
The reason your personal brand is so important is probably best explained with a quote from Jeff Bezos, the guy who founded Amazon:
“Your brand is what people say about you when you’re not in the room.”
And as everyone has something that’s said about them when they’re not there, it follows that everyone already has a personal brand – as the video explains.
So, if you already have a personal brand, whether you like it or not, doesn’t it make sense to try and ensure it’s a positive one? You can’t dictate what opinion people form of you, but you can do things to try and get them to see your personal brand as you see it. (Alternatively, you could leave it to chance and keep your fingers crossed the comments aren’t negative – but it’s not recommended.)
What’s the benefit of having a personal brand?
There’s no avoiding it: a personal brand takes time to work out and time to share with others – but it’s time that’s well rewarded, because the #1 benefit you’ll get is confidence.
- Confidence from understanding what makes you tick
- Confidence from defining who you are and what you have to offer
- Confidence from seeing yourself as others see you
- Confidence from accepting not everyone will buy your brand
- Confidence from just being yourself
It doesn’t end there (although that’s not bad going is it?) Using your personal brand in business delivers even more benefits:
- You get greater buy-in from key audiences and influencers
- You better manage your impact on others
- You increase levels of trust from team members
- You work better, saving time and increasing productivity
- You raise your profile and expand your network
- You increase your career opportunities
How do I work out what my personal brand is?
What you’re trying to achieve is a clear definition of your ‘what’ you have to offer and your ‘who’ is offering it in six key areas: Values, Drivers, Reputation, Behaviours, Skills/Strengths and Image. (Because if you don’t know what you’re selling, how can people buy it?)
The best analogy is to think of yourself as a top chef who’s trying to create a signature dish – something that, out of all the things you can cook, showcases your talent with only a few key ingredients (just like your brand).
To do that, you need to follow a five-step process (which happens to be set out in detail in Personal Branding For Brits):
Step 1 – Gather your ingredients
The first step involves a bit of navel gazing – time spent thinking about who you are and what makes you tick, collecting together the basic ingredients of your brand.
Step 2 – Choose the best bits
The second step is where you focus on the best ones, after all you don’t want to put every ingredient into your signature dish (it’ll end up a dog’s dinner).
Step 3 – Dig Deeper
Once you have those initial ingredients, it’s important to dig down to fully understand the finer details, because that’s where your USP (unique selling point) lies.
Step 4 – Get a reality check
So far, you’ve been thinking about your personal brand from your perspective, but never lose sight of the fact your brand also exists in others’ heads. Getting some insight into that is therefore imperative.
Step 5 – Set out your recipe
The final step is where you take those few key ingredients, with their extra detail, and use them to define your signature dish: your personal brand.
How can I find out how others view my personal brand?
Getting a reality check is an important part of working on your personal brand. (Is what you’re selling what people are actually buying?) Ask yourself:
- What’s my level of self-awareness?
- How much attention do I pay to people’s reactions to me?
- Do I really know what people say about me when I’m not there?
- How could what they’re saying affect my job/career/business?
To find out, it’s useful to do some market research to find out what your colleagues and peers are thinking. It may not be a comfortable thing to do, but it’s definitely an insightful one. So how do you go about it?
There are a number of options (listed in detail in Personal Branding For Brits) but the first step is to think about who you want the feedback from. Aim for people who will give you an honest answer and not just butter you up.
Next, think about what questions you want to ask them that will elicit the insight you need. Do you want their views on your reputation, or what strengths you have, or what your personality is like – or something else?
Then, think about how you’re going to ask them: in person, via email or an online survey, by getting someone else to ask them?
Lastly – and best considered before you begin – what are you going to do with the responses? Don’t expect others’ views to match your own word-for-word (that would be freaky) but for 95% of people, they’ll at least be in the same ballpark, which can do wonders for your confidence.
But if you’re in that 5% who are surprised by the responses, particularly if a lot of people concurred, it may be time to go back to your brand and review it.
Where should I promote my personal brand?
The short answer is everywhere.
That’s because people are picking up clues to your personal brand every time they come into contact with you: in person, via the phone or email, or online.
Your job is to ensure those clues are clear, consistent and authentic, so they create a positive view of your brand in others’ minds. (Once again, Personal Branding For Brits is full of practical tips on how to do that.)
- Think about the email you send and what it says about your personal brand.
- Think about your LinkedIn profile and what it says about your personal brand.
- Think about your clothes and hairstyle and what they say about your personal brand.
- Think about your voicemail message and what it says about your personal brand.
- Think about your body language and what it says about your personal brand.
- Think about your handshake and what it says about your personal brand.
- Think about your out of office message and what it says about your personal brand.
- Think about your mobile ringtone and what it says about your personal brand.
The list goes on…
How should I promote my personal brand online?
The trap people often fall into is they think their personal brand should be all over the internet like a rash. They post on LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, Pinterest, Google+ and plenty more. (There’s a chapter on social media in Personal Branding For Brits…no surprise!)
Instead, it’s better to focus on who you want to raise your profile with and where online they hang out, then put some content out there – and there alone. In this case quality says more about your personal brand than quantity.
The key to that content is that it should be relevant to the medium (business-like on LinkedIn, chattier on Facebook) and contribute to giving clear, consistent and authentic clues to your brand. Your online persona should reflect who you are in real-life, not a different person entirely.
How should I introduce personal branding to my organisation?
A lot will depend on what you want to achieve. (See the Developing Your Staff page for a list of common objectives.)
- If you’re looking for support for an individual or a team, that’s totally do-able.
- If you’re looking for a short session or a full day, that’s totally do-able.
- If you’re looking to develop anyone from the CEO to a new recruit, that’s totally do-able.
- If you’re looking for some in-depth feedback, that’s totally do-able too.
It always starts with a client briefing so that every package can be tailored to the audience and its needs – at no extra cost. Plus, if it’s working with someone one-to-one, a free chemistry meeting will be arranged to ensure trust and rapport can be built.
To get started, why not arrange an initial chat? Get in touch
The session was extremely informative and shed a different perspective on how you can approach your own development and career. The team found it motivating and inspiring!Bree Goxhuli, HR Advisor, Harrods
Jennifer delivered hugely interactive workshop. Challenging, thought provoking and, essentially, very helpful in preparing me to present me. Her expertise to identify people’s uniqueness and present it with impact is a real skill.James Holdsworth, Senior Director, RBS
Jennifer’s style and approach are engaging and effective. She has a great presence that drives you to think about your personal brand [and] her candid and honest approach is both refreshing and thought provoking.Caroline Wood, HR Business Partner, Warburtons
As the great bard Robbie Burns said, “Oh would some power the giftie gie us, To see ourselves as others see us.” Jennifer gave my team a taste of that power in two brilliant sessions.Neil McIntyre, Head of Partnerships, RSA
Jennifer has provided fantastic support in both workshop and one-to-one formats for a number of people in our business, to support them on the next stage of their career journey.Sam Bowerman, Head of HR, RBS
Feedback included comments like: ‘I should have had this 10 years ago!’, ‘Fantastic, just what I needed’ and ‘Great content and delivery – should be mandatory for all professionals.’Nathan Deeming, Reporting & Analytics Manager at Yorkshire Water
It was extremely thought provoking material, relevant to everyone, with plenty to think about. Needless to say, I have been sure to recommend it to all the ‘sceptical’ individuals I work with.Alan Peabody, Senior Director, RBS