“Personal branding is not about you. It’s about putting your stamp on the value you deliver to others.” – William Arruda, Personal Branding Guru
Regardless of age, status, and of the business we happen to be in, we all need to understand the importance of Personal Branding. Despite the popularity of this term, there is still some misconceptions about the main objective behind a personal brand. Personal branding is neither about personal bragging nor about displaying and sharing the maximum of contents on social media. It is more about what you stand for-your values, competencies, and actions; what you are passionate about and how you present yourself. It should tell your story and reflect a clear vision for what you would like for your life, and for your business.
“Personal branding is a permission to be yourself–your best self.” – William Arruda
Before digging deep into this subject, let’s first talk about the history of personal branding, as many people think that it is a recent phenomenon or simply a buzz, catchy word. Personal branding goes back to 1937as it was first introduced in the book Think and Grow Rich by Napoleon Hills. This book has been promoted as a self-improvement book, and it condenses 16 laws of success. The most important one to me was “to know clearly where you want to go.”
Personal branding reappeared later in 1981 in the book Positioning: the Battle of Your Mind, by Al Ries and Jack Trout. This book is more about how you position yourself to move on your career. The idea of personal branding has become popular in 1997 in the article “The Brand Called You” of Tom Peter who thinks that:
“We are CEOs of our own companies: Me Inc. To be in business today, our most important job is to be head marketer for the brand called you.”
The three stages are complimentary in a sense that we cannot define a clear positioning of a personal brand without going through a complete personal assessment, because we need to know where we are to be able to know where we would like to be. It is for this reason personal branding is far limited to being active on social media. It is mainly about a clear personal strategy reflecting our inner goals, passions and values coupled with the belief we put on this vision and the actions we do to make it happen.
Some of you may be wondering why we would need personal branding? You all know that today we are living in a very competitive environment, digital shifting world that is evolving on a continuous basis. Personal branding will enable you to highlight your uniqueness and your expertise; it is also a permission to be yourself and to leave your footprint. If you are a student, a corporate manager, an entrepreneur, or a consultant, you all need personal branding to build great relations and trust as people will work with you only if they trust you. You also need personal branding to be able to share informations, and getting constructive feedback to maintain and nurture these relations. To create a great Brand, you simply need to be yourself, authentic, and relevant. But personal branding is not one shot action but a continuous process that needs a lot of patience and perseverance depending on the efforts you would like to put on it.
In order to start a personal brand, you need to consider four main stages:
Discover your inner YOU
going through a complete knowledge of yourself is the first and basic element in developing your personal brand. It should answers ”who you are, what you do and what is the added value you are willing to offer”. The best way to do this exercise is to establish a personal SWOT analysis which will enable you to answer four main questions: your strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats. Before answering these questions, you will have to know about your objective behind the swot analysis: is it for self-improvement in your present job or is it about moving on into a new career? Once clear about the objective, answering the four questions will go smoother.
This SWOT should allow you to know who are you capable of becoming beyond what you are doing right now? What are you NOT doing with your life right now that you know you are capable of achieving?
“When you work hard on your job, you make a living; when you work hard on yourself, you can make a fortune.” – Jim Rohn
Create your Brand
Once you are clear about your goals, then building your own YOU will become easy to attain. There are many elements you will have to consider depending on the pace and objectives you re-defined to achieve them. There are traditional and non traditional ways of creating your personal Brand. The traditional means may include your own business card, professional portfolio, resume, references; and the non traditional means are about videos, LinkedIn profile, blog, social networks or whatever fits your need and abilities. The key principle about creating your brand is to ensure that all content is consistent and coherent with who you are and how you want to represent yourself.
Communicate about YOU
To be able to communicate properly, you need to find the right means of communication on social media. Before choosing a specific social network, you will have to answer five main questions: what is your objective, who is your audience, what kind of content you are willing to offer, do you have enough time for this kind of content, and the budget you are capable to spend.
Social media today, apart from cutting marketing costs, will enable you to keep up with your competition and get to know better your audience through constant, high-value interactions. It will give you the ability o share your story and build a long lasting relationship with others.
Maintain and measure your Brand
In order to maintain a great relationship, you will have to nurture it by creating valuable content and interactions. In order to maintain and improve your personal brand, you will have to measure it constantly to be able to change, adjust, and improve.
The first thing you should begin with is to Google yourself to check if your achievements are easy to find; if the search reflects who you are really or if it misrepresents you somehow. The social selling index is another way to measure your personal Brand as it will give a score that reflects your positioning compared to your network and another score related to people in your network with the same activity as yours. There are other ways you can rely on to assess your brand including the number of followers, people engagement and the feedback you are getting back regarding your posts, articles or other.
What about YOU? What are you passionate about? What motivates you today? Where do you see yourself in 5 years? What makes YOU unique? What contribution would you like to make? Are you happy where you are or you fear change? What skills you need to improve to get the job or promotion you are willing to? Look at your life and think if this is what you would like for yourself in couple of years. Once you answer these questions, your vision will become clearer regarding the positioning of your personal branding. The more focused YOU are on your objectives, the easier to achieve them as we get less dispersed by other things.
After many years of experience, I ended up with one conclusion is that life is all about being happy and helping others achieve their goals. Whatever you pick up as an objective, make sure that will make you happy. Picking up a job that reflects our passions or simply a job that we are passionate about will make us relentless, solve our problems of fear and anxiety, and will make us eager to work more. I spent more than 10 years on product and marketing management and I had never been happy like today. I chose personal development as I am a product of personal development. Life challenges taught me to FOCUS on what matters most keeping a very close eye on the positive side of every single experience I went through. Even in the most difficult situations, I searched for the learnings and not the issues.
Personal development and personal branding are positively correlated; one cannot goes without the other as personal branding is simply the Marketing plan to execute your personal strategy and positioning. But you need discipline which will give you the energy to become better that starts with you.
Personal Branding is like going on diet; it takes time to get results but perseverance and daily small habits are crucial to attain good results. It is important to know why you are doing it; it may send you curves that you may not anticipate but discipline and perseverance will allow you to go over them.
Going for Personal Branding has become a Must nowadays to set yourself from the crowd, but it should be done for a GREAT reason. Find something you can contribute to, something to give you a reason for being. Give your time, your talents, anything that can make you different. You will get back a special power that will feed you vision and empower you to do more and better. I strongly believe that the more you give, the more you will get.
“Each of us has a personal calling that’s as unique as a fingerprint-and that the best way to succeed is to discover what you love and then find a way to offer it to others in the form of service” – Oprah Winfrey