What is your personal brand?
The first response that came to mind when I heard this question was, well, I don’t have one yet. I was definitely wrong about this answer.
Now, I am sure I am not alone in this logic. I mean I’ve never really paid attention to my brand so I must not have one, right? Again, so wrong.
For many of us who are just embarking on our career journeys, this answer may have been the first thought to come to your mind too. If this is the case, then you can come join me over here in the circle of wrongness, and together we can try to fix it.
This fact about your personal brand was something I learned after sitting down with Brianna Blaney, Founder and Managing Partner of Envol Strategies. Brianna is an expert on employer and personal branding and firmly believes that her personal brand is what shaped her career so far.
Brianna explained that everyone already has a personal brand whether they are intentional about it or not. It starts with the relationships we build and how you interact with people. Then from the moment you started your Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, or LinkedIn account, your digital branding clock started ticking.
Ah, intention -- the key word in personal branding.
Developing and maintaining your personal brand is all about the intentions behind it. Building your brand with intention puts you in the driver's seat and gives you the control to make the best moves to achieve your goals.
So since we now know that we all have personal brands, let’s discover where we stand currently in the World Wide Web. As someone who hires people for a living, Brianna suggested to Google yourself (seriously, do it right now). What comes up for you? Is that how you want to be represented online?
The first thing you want to do is be clear on your goals and your values.
What are your goals? What do you care about? What do you want to be known for?
Evaluate your current situation, dig deep into what you want and determine what your current goals are at this moment in time. This is the foundation of your brand. Without truly knowing your values and your current goals, you will not be consistent in your branding. For tips on determining your goals and values, check out our Goal Setting blog post.
Determining what you align with becomes the foundation of your personal brand.
Brianna explained that branding is about how you activate your values. This can be both tangible and intangible in nature, but think how do my values show up in my actions? This includes details like the way you post online, the things you talk about, the clothes you wear, your email signature, the language that you use to communicate, and your tone of voice.
Brianna provided a great example. She said if care and follow up are important values for you, then after any interview or coffee chat, you should take the step to send a thank you follow up email. These small, little details will go a long way in bringing your brand to life and showcasing who you are.
Next, you want to identify and understand your target audience.
Who are you trying to reach? For example, if you are looking for a new job your target audience could be employers in your desired industry.
Once you have determined your target audience, you can learn how to reach them. If you are trying to reach potential employers in a new industry, you can post articles about that industry or make connections with industry professionals
With your values and target audience in mind, you then want to develop your value proposition and create your elevator pitch.
What makes you different from the rest and how can you communicate that unique quality to your target audience? How do you want to position yourself in order to stand out?
Consistency is key here. You want to ensure you communicate this value proposition across your platform(s) of choice (ie. Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram, resume, personal website, etc).
Understanding your goals and values, identifying your target audience, and creating your value proposition will help you establish your brand. But what are some ways you can actively communicate it?
Give your headshot a facelift. Brianna emphasized that your headshot and LinkedIn profile picture is a great place to show your personality and tell a story about who you are. Use it as an opportunity to communicate your personality to your target audience. Not all headshots have to be black blazers with white backdrops – mix it up!
While you’re updating your LinkedIn, go one step further and include a Call to Action on your profile. On your profile, state the types of relationships, opportunities, and connections you are actively seeking. This will help you be clear with your audience and may even provide opportunities for you to connect.
If you are trying to reach employers, include what opportunities you are looking for or what you are hoping to achieve in your next position. On Brianna’s profile she highlights the key topic areas she wants people to talk to her about and approach her with.
Balance the give and take – you need to create balance between your asks and what you are offering to support others. If you are reaching out to professionals to learn more about their positions, be sure to offer something in return. What can you bring to the table that is more than a cup of coffee?
Lastly, show up! Be present at events in your current industry or the industry you want to be in. Post on topics that are relevant to your area of expertise and that showcase your opinion and brand. Be intentional about your presence and align your actions to your values. This will help build and boost your personal brand and move you towards achieving your current goal.
Joining these steps together is a gradual process and your brand is something that will evolve over time. So, check in with yourself once in a while and evaluate if your current brand is still true to your goals and relevant to your target audience. I know this whole process can seem daunting; I am in the very beginnings of shaping my personal brand too. But don’t you owe it to yourself to make time for something as valuable as your brand?
Gaby Rice is the Newsletter Editor for YWiB Vancouver. She has worked in a number of customer service, project management, and people management roles in the tourism and hospitality industry. Gaby is passionate about travel, yoga, writing, and helping others achieve their goals. One day, she hopes to be a strategic influence in building diverse, inclusive, and ever-evolving workplaces.