The first time I heard the term ‘Personal Brand’ used in reference to myself, I’m not going to lie, I was more than a little bit confused. “How am I supposed to come up with a personal brand?” I thought to myself, “I’m not a huge company and I’m not trying to sell anything.”
Well, I really wish I could have slapped some sense into myself back then. I now know that in the working world, each and every one of us is most definitely trying to sell something – ourselves. That’s why it’s important to know that our ‘personal brand’ is one of the most important tools you have in your arsenal when it comes to creating a successful career.
The tricky thing about a personal brand is that it’s always saying something about you – whether you work at it deliberately or not. Because of this, you have to make an effort to ensure that you remain in control of the impression you are creating for the world to see. Not being in control of what other people (especially your boss or a hiring manager) think of you is the number one reason many women see their career stalled even though they feel they are doing their best. Why leave something as important as your image and public perception to chance – especially when you’re trying to expand your career.
There are 4 categories that make up your personal brand
2. Online presence,
3. Professional Portfolio
4. In-person connections
Being weak in ANY of these areas can ruin your chances of getting better career opportunities.
Whether you’re looking to get promoted at your current job or trying to find a new gig altogether, your reputation is something that follows you wherever you go. It’s important that you become aware of what people say about you when you’re not in the room because this is actually what they will use to form their opinion of you. There are many ways to find out what your reputation is, such as asking for honest feedback from people you trust at work, and some honest self reflection to think about all the things you’ve heard about yourself over the years.
If there is anything that comes up that you’re not happy with, now is the time to turn over a new leaf and address it head on. I’ve personally been in conversations with managers who decided to pass on giving an employee a bigger role, because the employee had a reputation among the team of having a bad attitude.
2. Online Presence
This is probably the easiest piece of your personal brand to fix; yet it’s the part that’s overlooked the most. Want to know what the first thing 90% of recruiters do if they’re considering bringing you in for an interview? Google you. This means they will likely stumble on any weird status posts or inappropriate photos you have on the web. And trust me, recruiters are not afraid to toss your resume in the trash after coming across something inappropriate on your Facebook page. There are hundreds of applicants applying for each job; they lose nothing by crossing you off the list.
Also, more and more companies are creating surveillance teams that monitor the activities of their own employees. People are fired from their jobs or held back from bigger opportunities for things they post on their social media sites outside of work all the time.When’s the last time you googled yourself? Are you proud of what you found? Take the time to clean up your social media accounts and/or make your profiles private as necessary. Also, if you don’t already have a LinkedIn profile – go ahead and create one right now! LinkedIn is an easy way to boost your professional presence online and comes us higher in Google searches. Let recruiters find out what they need to about your online footprint there, instead of somewhere else.
3. Professional Portfolio
Did you know that things like your resume, cover letter and performance reviews are all part of your professional portfolio? They are a crucial part of your career success. Always make sure you give off a message that is consistent with your actions. In many cases, your resume is the first introduction to a recruiter – make sure you are leaving a positive and consistent impression. Don’t be the person who gets talked about after an interview because who you are on paper doesn’t match who you claim to be. Moreover, make sure you continue to live up to your resume and your word after you’re hired!
4. In-person connections
This can be the make or break aspect of your personal brand. It would be such a shame to work on all the other parts of your brand only to fall flat on your face when people actually meet you in person. While other parts of your brand get you to the front door, your in person charm is what gets you invited inside.
What is your social style? How do you come across when meeting new people? Warm? Confident? Cold? Nervous? Again, all parts of your brand should align with each other. No one wants to give new career opportunities to someone they don’t vibe with or can’t relate to – no matter how much you’ve accomplished on your resume.
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