In today’s world, your personal brand is more important than ever.
I talk about this a lot with high-potential leaders, because how you’re seen by those around you greatly influences the way people respond to you. It’s a piece of the leadership puzzle that we don’t often think about, but it’s so important to your career development. Developing a strong personal brand that reflects your beliefs and values can have a huge impact on how effective you are as a leader.
That’s why in 2024, I’m encouraging all my clients to make their personal brand a priority.
With the popularity of social media and every professional having an almost constant online presence, we’re able to shape how our current and future colleagues, clients and managers see us. Personal branding is no longer reserved for high-profile or notable names and figures, it’s an essential part of every professional’s career strategy.
But it goes far beyond the digital space.
Once you’re in an organization or role, it’s the discussions about you, what other people hear about you or the reputation you have. It’s how you get tapped for opportunities, the opportunities you take and the work you deliver that strengthens your personal brand. You can have the most impressive LinkedIn profile in the world, but if your actions don’t line up then it doesn’t matter. Your boss or senior leaders aren’t checking your LinkedIn profile when determining whether you’re ready for a promotion. They’ll lean on their firsthand experience and their own thoughts and opinions—and that’s what will impact you most.
Some questions to consider when developing your personal brand:
What do people say about you when you aren’t in the room?
What are you known for by those you work with and in your network?
When do people think to reach out to you?
Whether you’re an independent contractor, an entrepreneur or an employee, getting your personal brand just right can help open the door to new opportunities, attract new clients and build your reputation as a thought-leader in your industry.
How to develop your personal brand
Identify your value proposition: This is the foundation of your personal brand. What makes you different from others? What skills or attributes set you apart? I always encourage my clients to spend some time reflecting on their strengths, when they love their work the most and stories that define who they are. Look back on your career achievements. How can you bring all these things together to develop your personal brand? Knowing what makes you unique will help you move onto the next step: your core narrative!
Find your core narrative: Once you know what your value proposition is, you can figure out your core narrative. The one sentence that encapsulates your story. This sentence should be based on your past experience, your challenges, your skill set and the overarching message you want to convey. It should be authentic and relatable and help you connect with former, current and future colleagues, clients and managers.
Learn how to pitch yourself: Building your personal brand is a process, but you can influence it by the way you talk about yourself. You can hone your “elevator pitch” to ensure it’s not cringey, and really articulate what you’re passionate about and most proud of. This is critical when it comes to avoiding giving people the “ick,” which often comes from what’s seen as “bragging.” But coming from a place of passion and pride (e.g., what fires you up, what you’re most proud of) can help ensure your colleagues don’t roll their eyes every time it’s your turn to speak in a group meeting.
Network and collaborate: I’ve found this to be one of the most critical pieces of developing your personal brand. Much like showcasing your expertise, finding like-minded individuals to connect and collaborate with can help build your brand. Find relevant posts to share with your network and provide your point of view. Find new ways to collaborate with other thought-leaders in your industry. Both tactics can expand your audience and provide new opportunities.
Build your online presence: Now that you’ve figured out what makes you unique and nailed down the overarching story you want to tell, it’s time to put it into action. Your online presence is often the foundation of your personal brand. Think about things like your website, your LinkedIn profile, and other social media channels. Use these platforms to showcase your expertise, highlight your accomplishments and provide value to your visitors.
Showcase your expertise: You’ve established your online presence, so it’s time to showcase your expertise and accomplishments. I’ve found many ways for clients to do this—often through speaking engagements, writing blog posts, attending industry conferences or webinars, or simple things like your LinkedIn posts. You can offer to be a guest on podcasts that align with your areas of expertise. All these things build your personal brand and help your network view you as the go-to industry expert and thought-leader you are!
Monitor and adapt: And lastly, personal brand should be a work in progress, much like we are as professionals. We learn new skills, gain new experiences and shift our focus, and our personal brand should reflect those changes. As we grow, our personal brand grows too.
Did I miss anything? Join me on LinkedIn and let’s continue the conversation.