The Essentials of Personal Branding

Last year, my colleague wrote an article on personal branding and basic steps you could take to establish an online presence. In it, I found that we’re able to communicate and connect in ways that weren’t imagined a decade ago and the trickle effect of that fact has touched every part of our personal and professional lives. And for better or worse, social networking sites have changed the ways we manage our careers and find our jobs. Consider some of the trends today. Employers are increasing their use of social networking sites as a recruiting tool to source potential candidates. Social media privacy laws are being enacted across the country so employers don’t misuse, or otherwise, discriminate against candidates using information they find online. So, if you’re looking to advance, or are looking for your next opportunity, establishing a positive online presence and using social networking sites to create value and manage your personal brand can be a great investment for your career.

Begin with the End in Mind

Stephen Covey, renowned author of “The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People,” helped ingrain goal-setting as a key to success. When it comes to managing your personal brand, online and offline, the same principle can apply. Ask yourself these questions:

  • What do I want to be remembered for?
  • What talent, experience, and knowledge do I possess that I want people to associate with me?
  • Why is that important to me?

By answering these questions, you gain the self-awareness that will guide and develop your personal brand. This exercise isn’t about being phony, or creating a false image. It’s about what’s true and what matters to you, and within the context of your career, how you broadcast and share that value with an online audience, and to potential employers. In today’s celebrity-entrepreneurial driven culture, a personal brand is something that starts within, and then you extend that to an online presence. Some marketing experts claim an online presence will eventually replace the resume, so if you plan to carve out your online presence, defining your personal brand first is essential.

If there’s less than flattering information out there about you, or anything potentially negative that can be taken out of context, take the steps to correct it. Then move forward with creating and building value through your online presence with the self-knowledge of what your personal brand stands for, and what your work represents about you.

Your Personal Brand is Yours to Manage

I love Glenn Llopis’ definition of a personal brand, “A personal brand is the total experience of someone having a relationship with who you are and what you represent as an individual; as a leader.” This statement eloquently describes how one should approach using social networking as a way to find their next opportunity. Like with any other job strategy you use to develop your career, starting and building an online presence is a commitment you’ll want to maintain for the life of your career journey. And it’s not just about self-promotion but an illustration of the value you offer, and how you demonstrate those skills, talent, and knowledge in your work with others. At the very least, remember that your personal brand is something that is being honed by you through your values, your work, and the experiences other people have with you. If you don’t manage your personal brand, someone else will do it for you, online and off. And if HR social media recruiting methods are any indication of what to expect in the future in the ever-changing world of work, managing your personal brand and online presence will be a common language all of us will need to speak more fluently.

Managing your personal brand that is aligned with the highest goals and values you hold for yourself is the investment you need to practice until your answer to that question is clear to you and to your next employer. If having a personal brand, or an online presence, sounds intimidating, consider that it’s a sophisticated answer to the age-old question of “How do I make myself stand apart from the crowd?” Understanding the value you bring to the table, and choosing the right tools to showcase your qualifications, takes time and effort, so choose wisely. Done thoughtfully, a personal brand can be the missing piece in helping you break into the next level of your career.

Written By: Quisha Henderson
Quisha considers herself to be a lifelong learner and has a passion for helping people live up to their full potential. Her professional experience involves providing student and career development to adult learners at Ashford University. Quisha received her Master of Business Administration and would like to future her education in positive mental health.

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