Building Your Personal Brand
Updated: Sep 1, 2020
This will be my very first original post on this site. All other articles before this was taken from my LinkedIn posts, written from 2017 to 2020. Going forward, I hope to use this platform to share longer-form content so that I can improve my writing and develop better content to share with everyone who wants to improve themselves consistently as well!
I chose this topic because this is something that one of my mentors shared with me in our very first meeting together. That was the first time I heard about this personal branding concept. After that, I began to notice it being increasingly mentioned by other speakers at talks or in books as one of the key building blocks of their successes.
Events-wise, it was the theme of one of YWLC's International Women's Day a few years back and it is one of the most popular sessions hosted by General Assembly (entirely based on just my observation - the room was packed to the brim).
I aim to share what I have learnt about this topic here - why is it important, what is a brand that is authentically you and how you can go about achieving that.
So, why is this important?
Well, you already have a brand - regardless of whether you like it or not. Many successful people such as Jeff Bezos, the founder of Amazon have said that 'Your name is your brand, it's what people say about you when you're not there.' If that's the case, isn't it better to ensure that your brand speaks genuinely about who you are as a person?
Having a great personal brand helps you to build credibility and showcases your personal values. It is also an excellent tool that distinguishes yourself from others. Just like how every business should have a unique proposition, the same goes for individuals. It's helpful when you are trying to stand out from a sea of candidates, it's helpful when you are trying to advocate for a cause. Having your own distinctive brand makes it easier for other like-minded people to seek you out from a sea of people.
But do also remember that your brand is not defined by your job title, job description or company. Your job is not and should not be your full identity - I can talk more about this in another post if you are interested, let me know!
What you do or don't do already brands you. Why not take the proactive step to make your brand genuinely you.
How do I figure out what my brand is?
Your brand is basically what you want to be known for. Drawing on business analogies, think of powerful brands like Nike and Apple. What traits do you associate with such brands?
A brand is made up of 2 components:
1. External (The Visual, Vocal and Verbal -> How you carry yourself )
2. Internal (Competence -> Basically being really good at what you do)
Delving deeper into the Internal component:
It's all about the value that you bring. Be relentlessly focused on what you do that adds value. I realised that this is something that many successful people are extremely clear about and it starts with being very self-aware.
When my mentor first introduced this concept to me, she shared with me what her personal branding is at work:
-> Outcome-driven; Extremely capable in delivering projects
-> Brutal and direct about facts; No sugar-coating
-> Being quick to identify the elephant in the room and focuses the group back to key challenges and opportunities
-> Her attention to detail and toggling between the big picture and the finer stuff (She likes to say: Natalie, the devil is in the details.)
Outside of work, she sits on the boards of organisations whose causes she champions so that she can make a more direct impact. Again, this comes back to the concept I mentioned earlier - if you know the value that you bring, you can more effectively help and advocate for the causes you want to support as well.
Some questions to get you started:
1. What are your strengths and weaknesses?
2. What do people come to rely on you for? What are you proud of?
3. What energizes you? What are you passionate about?
After you have thought about the 3 questions above, here's an additional mini-exercise that can help: doing a Brand Audit. Ask your friends or colleagues to tell you what they think your brand is. You can also drop me a comment/message here on what you think my brand is and I'll do the same for you (if we are already friends).
After figuring out what you want to be known for, the how comes next: How do you establish your branding? Like marketing a product/service, it's also about increasing the visibility of your brand.
This can come through various forms e.g taking on projects, signing up for classes to deepen your knowledge in that area, writing/speaking about topics or causes that align with your branding.
Remember that substance (what you say) and style (how you say it) are both critical components that add to your brand as well.
This is a short introduction to a key concept that will sit with us throughout our entire lives. It stems from digging deep, understanding who we are as a person and who we want to be. With time, your personal brand will also evolve and be shaped by your life stage and experiences which makes it even more unique.
As with my overarching mission statement of not drifting and living intentionally goes, I believe that putting good thought into shaping up our personal authentic brands is also an essential part of our journey. Let me know if this was helpful for you, how you are taking steps to craft and hone your brand and if there are other topics you'd like me to cover! :)
P.S: Even though the concept of ‘a dream job’ may seem like such an elusive concept to many, I strongly believe that a dream job CAN be crafted. In this personalised program, we will explore aspects such as being crystal clear of your ideal job, understanding what is holding you back and crafting actionable steps to get there. Apply here.