What do you think others think of you?
If your family, friends, and colleagues were asked to say 5 things about you, would they describe you the way you hoped?
If you’re unsure, you may want to think about how that could impact your reputation, and ultimately, your goals.
It’s not just celebrities that need to make an extra effort to take care of their reputation. As an employee, business person, and a person in general, you are always making an impression with everyone you meet. This is eventually bound to have an impact on your business or career as those people might be potential customers, clients, or partners.
Case in point: would you ever take financial advice from someone who is known to repeatedly borrow money from others without paying them back on time?
To build a successful business, you’ll need to at least have a basic understanding of why your personal branding matters.
What is personal branding?
Personal branding refers to the conscious effort to influence and shape how others perceive you instead of a business entity. At its very core, it simply means highlighting what makes you unique in order to stand out from the crowd. This means evaluating and tweaking the way you present yourself, from your social media accounts to the way you interact with others in person.
But don’t mistake it as being fake; rather, it’s about putting your best foot forward and truly embracing your values and passions, in a way that can attract the attention of your target audience.
Jason Hartman, Founder and CEO of The Hartman Media Company, defines personal branding as “a promise to your clients… a promise of quality, consistency, competency, and reliability.”
When done well and consistently, it can have various personal and professional benefits.
Benefits of Personal Branding
Spending a little time developing one’s personal branding can benefit everyone. It could be as small as getting referred by a colleague for a great new work opportunity, or closing a deal with a top client because they find you trustworthy.
Feelings of confusion and doubt are absolutely normal in the beginning stages of personal branding. However, the process entails taking a good look at your strengths and values, which should stir your passion. The deeper you get into the process, the more you’ll learn how to further embody and even articulate these passions.
As mentioned above, personal branding forces you to pay attention to your strengths and achievements. Looking back at your past wins once in a while will boost your confidence, strengthen your sense of purpose, and encourage you to aim higher.
Establishes your identity
Going back to the true purpose of personal branding, establishing your own brand makes it clear to everyone who you are, what you do, and the value you bring. There will be no mixed messages, and your name will come up more often in association with your industry of choice. Good personal branding also gives you a distinguishable edge over the competition.
The brand values and drivers you define will function as a guidance system for your actions. Because you are clear on what you need to achieve, it will be easier for you to deliver these promises more consistently, which will help build your credibility.
Connect with your target audience
They say that who you attract is a reflection of you; this bears weight for both romantic and professional situations. Most people prefer doing business with those they can relate to, and a well-defined public persona ensures that your message is always clear and resonates with your target audience.
Building your personal brand
The good news is you don’t have to start from scratch! You already have a personal brand whether you’re aware of it or not. It’s just a matter of gathering your thoughts, writing them down, and creating a structure.
The first thing to do is figure out who you are and for what you want to be known. What is your vision? Write down what exactly you want to achieve and what skills and qualities you have that can get you there.
You should also take note of what you think are the top 5 things that you think people will say about you. If there’s anything in there that you aren’t keen for a customer or client to know, figure out how you can either change it or pull focus from it.
Self-evaluation is not the time to be excessively humble or to second-guess yourself; because developing a personal brand is self-driven, it’s important that you have full understanding and appreciation of the product you’re offering: yourself.
Identify your primary area of specialty
Many people have different passions and therefore may want to get into various niches right away. For example, you might be running a business in the food industry, but also have artistic ventures. It makes you interesting, but could also be very confusing. In this case, a good strategy is to first focus on building your reputation in the food industry.
This doesn’t mean giving up your creative endeavours completely – it just means letting your area of specialty take the spotlight for a while. As your career and reputation grows, you can gradually expand your niche.
Define your target audience
Look at your current client pool and pinpoint what they have in common. Chances are there are many, such as industry, location, budgets, wants, and needs. Pay particular attention to which clients you enjoyed working with.
Now imagine your ideal client. What types of people or businesses do you support and would love to do business with?
Combine qualities of your current market and your ideal clients and you’ll get your target audience. Defining your target audience provides direction on how to craft your messages, because you’ll be able to visualize exactly who you’re talking to.
Implement your public persona
Once you have a stronger sense of who you are, what you do, and who is your target audience, you can start building your public or selling persona. Check your online presence, including your website and social media profiles, and make sure the information there is aligned with your personal brand.
According to Personal Branding Guru William Arruda, “Personal branding is not about you. It’s about putting your stamp on the value you deliver to others.”
Building your personal brand means setting yourself up for an upward career trajectory as long as you stay true to your authentic self.
Building your personal brand means setting yourself up for an upward career trajectory.