Personal Branding

You enter a BRAND new world when you leave a company and your job, often at a timing not of your choosing. A key aspect to getting that next successful career move is ‘personal branding’. Branding is a mix of how you portray yourself and how others see you. Tom Peter’s assertion is that individuals have to act as head marketer for the brand called ‘You’!

In the burgeoning world of social media, an AVG study showed that 92 percent of children under the age of two already have a digital footprint, so some form of brand already exists. An interesting exercise is to Google yourself, see what comes up and what this is telling you about your brand. Nowadays, thinking about how you want people to think about you and speak about you is a necessity, not a ‘nice to do’ item for some later date. It’s a core piece of the jigsaw and will help you with marketing yourself via LinkedIn or a CV, and selling yourself in an interview situation.

If you think of some big brands such as Coke, Kelloggs, Heinz, Nike or Richard Branson, and jot down what their qualities are and what differentiates them, you start to unpick their brand message. It is also a good starting point for you. Your challenge is, in under 20 words, to figure out your brand qualities and differentiators.

What are your greatest strengths?

To help get started, think about what your colleagues or customers think of you, and what they would say are your greatest strengths. Also consider what are the success patterns behind your peak achievements and what do you do that you are most proud of? For example,

  • Are you one of those rare people who deliver projects within budget and on time?
  • Have your creative and problem solving skills created new business opportunities or fixed issues and kept customers happy?
  • Maybe you are a brilliant strategic thinker or alternatively, well regarded for your pragmatic outcomes.

Think about both hard skills (e.g. fluency in a foreign language, knowledge of a particular software) and soft skills (e.g. communication, teamwork and problem solving). This will help you start identifying what’s called the ‘transferability of skills,’ things that are portable and can travel with you when you make a transition to a new role. Transferable skills are the talents and abilities that you can bring to any job in any sector.

Once you have everything written down, also consider if there are any gaps you need to address by getting supplementary training and experience.

The process of listing what is great about being YOU is important: it reminds you of what you have achieved, and then the discipline of trying to encapsulate this into 20 words, helps you work out your pitch or core message. Tom Peter’s notes that the pitch of great brands doesn’t sell the steak, but sells the sizzle; basically they promote the benefits rather than focus on features. I think it’s not an either/or situation. In today’s competitive market, individuals need to sell both the steak and the sizzle. But, beware, one bad steak can sink your brand fast.

Invest quality time in building good relationships

Everything you do, or don’t do, communicates the value and character of your brand. It can be as simple as how you handle a phone call, reply to an email or what you tweet. Your brand ambassadors are your network of friends, colleagues, clients, and customers. What they say about you and your contribution can open doors and add brand value. It is critical that you invest quality time in building, nurturing and maintaining good relationships with your network.

I remember a client ringing a contact to tip him off I was job hunting and when we met, I realised his assumption as I walked through the door was that I was a very good candidate. He trusted his contact. If she said this BRAND is a good one, he accepted that. Luckily or sadly, perception is reality. It’s important that you also make sure that any tweets, LinkedIn profiles and CV’s all carry the same message.

One final tip, personally, I keep Facebook for friends and not business.

Written by Executive Coach Claire Dickson “My experience, intuition and authenticity help people get “unstuck” to realize their hopes, conquer their fears, realise their potential and make sustainable change.”

Read more blogs from Claire: Frank the Frog and your Career Direction