Personal branding is about knowing yourself, your strengths, and what makes you unique in the world. Of course, we have to take into account that nowadays, it is harder and harder to be regarded as unique, since employers started to say “yes, we know, you are unique, just like everyone else”. This means that the competition is even bigger and that we really have to focus on what we are the best at and what we have to offer.
At core, Personal Branding is a promise of value, it is the value we can create for those around us.
Further, I would like to talk about some important factors when it comes to Personal Branding for our career success. I will stop at the 7 most important out of many others.
1.First impression – a topic very often connected with Personal Branding. You know the quote “you never get a second chance to make a first impression.”— Andrew Grant. That is right, taking into account the fact that it is a matter of seconds for someone to form a first impression of another individual. Also based on the studies made on this topic, it is expected that all the future experiences of a person with an individual are filtered through this first impression. But still, there are more optimistic authors that say you can actually fix a bad first impression. Of course, it might take more effort, because people already moved on to other projects and forgot about you, but you can always try to have a second chance and correct what has been wrongly transmitted. This is an important reason for having a well-defined Personal Brand.
2. Knowing yourself – we cannot expect to have a perfect knowledge of ourselves because it takes a lifetime to discover, but at least we can be aware of our strengths and weaknesses at a given moment in our career. When you know what your strengths are you can build on those in order to overcome different challenges and transform them into real assets. For example, if you are a creative person that works in the automotive sector, you can use your creativity in the problem-solving process. This can help you find unique solutions to problems that at first you didn’t know how to solve. Having a clue about your weaknesses helps you keep on track with your developmental plan, especially if the career you desire requires skills that you do not have yet. Your strengths and talents should become the core of your Personal Brand.
3. Providing value – If you want to be remembered you need to provide value to others. To do this it is important to know what are your values and what do you offer to others so they know what to expect from you. Finally, the values that you are honoring constantly in your life and work will be defining your personal brand. So, for instance, if you constantly provide quality to others, your brand will be perceived as professional.
4. Having a career plan – this is very important in order to decide what are the right actions you and where your Personal Brand stands. Knowing what you want to become, helps you keep a clear focus on your professional journey and build your career path step by step. It is like going on a road trip and knowing your destination. You keep focused on the road until you get there, with less sight of what is on the right or left, or in the background. If you do not have a career plan, you can fix some career objectives and decide at least what your next move is.
5. Becoming an expert in your field – choose your field of expertise, preferably the one connected with the career you desire, and try to become the best at it (the best in your circle at least). Read constantly about developments in your field, get involved in different projects, be proactive in starting your own projects (even if this sounds scary at first), participate in conferences, webinars and train yourself as much as you can in the field you are passionate about. Meet some famous masters in your field, this will give you more credibility. Talk about your knowledge and experience anytime someone asks you, but do not make it all about yourself. Mainly, take care not to fall into the trap of talking about your favorite topic regardless of the situation. This can become a habit very easily. Just be aware that it might become annoying for others and a downside for your personal brand.
6. Dress to impress – well, if this sounds too much and you are not a fashion passionate, let’s just say that the way you dress transmits a message in itself. If you work in an organization, it is recommended to respect the dress code there. But the best advice here is to dress according to the job you desire and not according to the one that you already have. For example, if your managers wear a suit you can also wear a suit. This will transmit the message that you are ready for more responsibility. Also, it is good to be aware of some stereotypes. Women who dress with masculine accents have more chances to get a job, and the ones that dress provocatively and have a top position are considered incompetent. I know, we are still fighting stereotypes, but even if we pretend they are not there they continue to exist, so it’s better to admit it. A study from careerbuilder.com revealed that some factors that might appear superficial, actually matter for approximately 30% of our career success: piercings, breath quality, visible tattoos, inappropriate clothes, or a messy desk. Some readings about how to dress well and what fits your body shape can help you to do some basic fixes. Don’t forget your look, your image! To show your Personal Brand it is important to dress professionally and add something from your personality. The latter will outline your uniqueness.
7. Networking and the art of building relationships – Contrary to what networking meant some time ago – exchanging as many business cards as possible – now, it is about creating a connection. Nobody wants to hear how great you are if they don’t see what’s in it for them. Try to find what are the interests of the other person and then connect with what you have in common and what you have to offer. This way the person in front of you will feel important and the chances to have a real connection will grow. Of course, sometimes despite your best efforts, there will not be a match, but this is natural selection.
In order to increase your network it is good to participate in events, workshops, classes that interest you, go out with different groups, go to meetups and be open to meet new and interesting people. I know the pandemic has killed many awesome networking opportunities, but the world has moved online, so try to do your best there. Your network is important for the opportunities that might arise in your life in the future but it is also a great source of wellbeing. After you have met the right people, find reasons to keep in touch. If you want to go deeper in understanding networking try the book “Never eat alone” by Keith Ferrazzi.