Jeff Bezos, founder of Amazon, famously said that ‘your brand is what other people say about you when you’re not in the room’. Brands aren’t just for products- they’re for people and services too. In particular, your personal brand reflects your vision, values, skills and beliefs.
Employers, your network, people you meet on the street will all judge the ways in which you present yourself.
Personal branding is becoming an ever-increasingly popular skill and one potential employers and companies want to see within their graduate hires. They want to find candidates who are able to build strong relationships, network well, gain followers and market both themselves and the organisations they represent.
It’s therefore vital that you define and develop your personal brand. To help you do just that, we’ve created a mini checklist of the ways in which you can become your brand and showcase your skills!
Get to know yourself
Before you can start to market yourself to companies, employers and the wider world, you need to get to know yourself. Think about your likes, dislikes, personality traits, mannerisms, interactions with others, how you believe people view you, things that you can do which other people struggle to do.
It’s crucial that you know who you are because strong personal branding requires you to be authentic. Don’t be somebody you’re not- people usually see through imitations and will struggle to trust you.
Once you’ve defined who you are, you need to think about what you want to achieve and where you want to go. Set goals and targets for yourself. Don’t be overzealous and set huge goals that you can’t reach yet- that would demotivate you. Split your targets in to short-term and long-term goals and set KPIs or milestones to measure your progress.
Audit your online presence
Have you ever checked your online presence on social media platforms or professional networking sites? I’m sure your LinkedIn profile looks spotless, but what about your Facebook or Instagram accounts? Are you sure you don’t have any pictures that you wouldn’t like your mum or future employer to see?!
As the famous American entrepreneur, Tim Ferris, once said: “Personal branding is about managing your name — even if you don’t own a business — in a world of misinformation, disinformation, and semi-permanent Google records. Going on a date? Chances are that your “blind” date has Googled your name. Going to a job interview? Ditto.”
Employers are becoming increasingly interested in their candidates’ online presence. Make sure there are no images or posts which would cause offense or embarrassment. Clean up your profiles and make sure they reflect a positive image of who you aspire to be.
In addition, use social media sites to help market yourself. LinkedIn is a fantastic tool for job hunting and networking. You can connect with a variety of employers and discover a lot of information about different sectors, technologies and jobs out there. It’s also a good idea to remember that ‘you are who you follow’ so make sure you connect with people who have similar interests or those that you aspire to emulate.
Offer distinct value
Why should people should interact with you? What is the extra value you can give them? How are you unique?
People can be selfish: they want to know what’s in it for them. Few will connect with you or join your network just to chat and offer advice. People will often want you to add value to their networks too.
Define your USP (unique selling point) and market yourself as somebody who can offer distinct value and a different service/ product. How are you different from the others surrounding you? What are your best qualities? What have you learned? What experiences have you had? Try to avoid clichés and common attributes that everyone claims to have and be unique!
Just remember one thing: make sure you are in control and you aren’t giving something that you don’t want to/ are not able to give.
Keep your word
Trust is vital when building relationships and marketing your brand. You don’t want people to think that they cannot trust you and that they’re taking a risk. Earn trust, respect and loyalty by doing the things that you say you’ll on time and to the best of your ability.
Maintain clear communication channels so if something is going wrong you can reach out for help.
While some people find networking easier than others, it’s something that everyone can do with preparation and practice.
You can build good rapport with people when you know about their challenges and aspirations and they know yours. In conversation, your
goal is to build relationships based on trust. If you build a good relationship with complementary businesses, they will become ambassadors for your business, passing customers your way.
Show interest in what others do and listen to them. Be aware of non-verbal forms of communication and your general body language.
Use networking events and professional networking sites such as LinkedIn to really develop your skills in this area.
Written by: Monika Zdanciute
Edited by: Henry Aspinall