On March 1st, YWiB Vancouver hosted Brand Yourself!, an event on the topic of personal branding. We invited a group of incredible women to join our panel discussion on marketing your personal brand for your professional pursuits.
Our panelists included Envol Strategies Founder Brianna Blaney, UBC Sauder professor and marketing strategy coach Ann Stone, UBC Alumni Career Educator Michele Murphy, Krimson Marketing Inc. Director Dr. Grace Lee, Lifestyle & Travel Blogger Alicia Haque of Go Live Explore, and our moderator Natasha Jeshani from Tafa Consulting Corp.
The women shared valuable insights on navigating your career path with the use of personal branding as your compass, sharing their best practices on creating, promoting, and owning a brand for yourself that is authentic, purposeful, and engaging.
The first step in creating your personal brand
To start, the panelists were asked what the first step is in creating your personal brand. Grace stated that you need to know who you are and what your values are. She suggests figuring that out by thinking about three things: what you naturally do, what you spend the most of your time doing, and what you spend your money on. Additionally, Michele’s tip for determining your purpose is to think of an accomplishment you are proud of and to pull your strengths from that experience. Brianna believes it’s important to have an understanding of what your intention and your goal is, as this will help you be clear on who you’re trying to reach. Through personal branding, Alicia says, you can embrace what you want to be known for, highlight your strengths, and bring that to your audience’s attention.
Platforms and avenues for developing your personal brand
In regards to the most important tools, avenues, and platforms instrumental that were instrumental to the development of their personal brands, the panelists brought up examples from both the online and offline spaces. As a visual content creator with interests in photography and videography, Instagram is the perfect platform for Alicia to showcase her personal brand. Even more, it has been the best and most effective way for her to reach out to and develop her audience. She engages with her followers and gets to know what they like and what they don’t like, as well as get inspiration from others in the creative field. For Ann, she values the importance of relationship building offline. She considers the relationships you make and how you honour them (in terms of how treat the people around you and the people you work with) as crucial to be aware of, because the future of your career is about those you touch.
Personal brand & career development
Brianna sees one’s personal brand as an opportunity to differentiate yourself and stand out in the corporate world. Michele believes that the practice of developing your personal brand helps you get to know yourself, your strengths, and your value adds, and continue refining that throughout your career development. From there, you can strongly and confidently articulate where you are today and what you have to offer to others when seeking new opportunities.
Building an authentic personal brand
The panel was asked about how to create your brand in an authentic way. The panelists noted the importance of maintaining a mentality of hospitality when thinking about your audience Instead of making it all about you and your self-promotion, your purpose should be to provide value to those you reach. Alicia aims to share aspirational vibes in her travel content, which she creates to inspire and inform others.
Maintaining consistency in your personal branding
In a follow up question on maintaining consistency throughout social platforms in terms of what you share, Michele advised against trying to be all things to all people on all platforms, seeing the value in knowing your industry and knowing your audience and focusing your time and attention on specific platforms in your social strategy for your personal branding. Brianna believes it’s less about being present everywhere and more about demonstrating your curiosity and interest in specific fields where you intend to build your networks. She also recommends discussing and sharing your accomplishments in volunteer roles and other great things you do outside of your academic and work commitments.
Personal branding mistakes to avoid
The biggest personal branding mistakes our panelists have encountered all link back to the denial of being authentic with and confident in yourself and your abilities. For Brianna, she advocates for being unapologetically you in not apologizing for who you are. Grace thinks there’s a lot to be lost for those who don’t see the value in bringing up their personal branding when talking about their skills and instead rely on their academic credentials alone to articulate their value for potential career opportunities.
Rebranding your personal brand
When asked their thoughts about rebranding your personal brand, our panelists agreed that it’s an essential part of the career journey. Alicia remarked that it’s okay for your brand to change over time; in fact, it’s natural. When refining your personal brand after experiencing career and life changes and shifts, Ann encourages people to find the connection in the in-between chapters so you can create the story of your personal and professional journey during times of transition. She says to ask yourself what you learned and how it changed you and to use that to retell and recraft those challenging bumps in your story. As an example, when Michele transitioned from grade school teaching to career advising at the university level, she noticed a common thread of education in her work history and resume, with each role she subsequently took on as small pivots and gradual movements in her career journey. She remarks that it’s not about your title, but it’s about whether or not people can tell what you are all about and what you value behind those titles. At the end of the day, you are still you - you are just arriving at the next phase of your journey.
Our panelists' personal brand statements
To wrap up our panel, our audience asked each of the panelists to summarize their personal brands in one succinct and impactful statement.
Brianna Blaney is on a mission to make businesses human.
Ann Stone tells stories that help other people find where they want to go.
Michele Murphy is devoted to being in service in helping people develop careers as a lifelong journey of self discovery.
Grace Lee is all about redeeming what is redeeming and saving what is worth saving through empathy and compassion.
Alicia Haque aims to push people to get out of their comfort zones.
As Ann summarized, “everything communicates,” and therefore, your personal brand is expressed 100% of the time, making it a top priority in your professional, personal, and life journey.
Save the date for our next event on Health & Wellness and Work/Life Balance on April 19! Stay tuned for more event details to be released soon.
Elizabeth Rosalyn The is the Communications Coordinator for YWiB Vancouver's events team. Currently, she is the content & social media specialist at Rise People, a digital HR software company that brings HR, payroll, and benefits together in an all-in-one people platform.
A lover of stories, she lives to explore and write about the arts, music, entertainment, travel, and culture, all while sipping on a cup of earl grey tea. She is one of the founding directors for the pop culture & lifestyle magazine, The Hudsucker. Visit her personal blog at Elizabeth Rosalyn.