I teach workshops on personal branding and recently I started asking people at the beginning: what is personal branding, what does it mean to you, and do you have a personal brand?
I get a real mix of responses. Once I spoke to a group of 50 people and only one person raised their hand to say they have a personal brand!
Some people will reply and say that branding is only for products and businesses, or really high profile people. But mostly, I get blank stares when I ask people to tell me what personal branding is. I thought I better write about it.
At its most basic, personal branding is your reputation or what people say about you when you’re not in the room. This isn’t a very helpful description though.
The way I define personal branding is this: Personal branding is how you communicate the value you, and only you, bring. It begins with a clear understanding of who you are and where you want to go. It goes without saying to marketers that brand is strategy. For those who have never developed brands before, it’s important to understand the strategic element.
Developing a personal brand strategy starts with a clear message stating what you do, why you do it, and who you do it for. In order to get there, you need to have a solid understanding of who you are and where you are going.
From there you can build out the skills and values that your audience should know about. Think about it from your audience's perspective. Say your audience is the tech sector, do they care that you have skills in mediation? Maybe, but maybe not. Your audience doesn't need to know about every skill or experience you have. Find out what’s important to them and tell them which of your skills and values align with theirs.
One thing to remember is that you cannot be all things to all people. It can be tempting to want to declare all the great things about you to absolutely everyone. Trust me, it’s not worth it. This makes it really hard for your ideal audience to 1. Find out about you and 2. Make a meaningful connection with you and decide to hire you or buy from you.
A strong personal brand will repel some people and believe it or not, that’s a good thing! It means you stand for something and the customers or companies that are not a good fit for you won’t waste their time or yours enquiring about you.
So, the question isn’t, do you have a personal brand (YOU DO!), it’s whether or not you’re developing it strategically so that it helps you reach your goals.
I’ve shared my story on how developing my personal brand benefited my career. If you’d like help developing yours, let’s connect! I'm happy to share what I do to help people develop brands that are true to who they are and that achieve results.
Have you begun developing your personal brand? How did you start and what did you do to ensure you were being strategic? Let me know in the comments!