Photograph: Céline Martin-Pedersen
Text: Kathy Borys Siddiqui
How to define personal branding, and why is it so important? Let us take a closer look at personal branding and how it can make a significant difference in our careers. For Internationals looking to boost or re-shape their careers abroad, personal branding awareness and knowledge is a necessity.
Here is how LinkedIn writes about themselves (about.linkedin.com) “Welcome to LinkedIn, the world’s largest professional network with 706+ million users…” As a professional trying to make yourself stand out from this flood of talent, you have to do something significant. Creating and showcasing your brand is the CORRECT answer! Each one of us is a brand. It is not only the famous actors, athletes, authors, singers, and other talented individuals. In the online/virtual world, we live in today, we all have a tool - the personal brand. Now, whether or not we choose to activate it is another question.
The unsolved PB mystery Let us be clear on what exactly a personal brand is? It is your reputation, it sends a message to people why you do what you do, it provides information to people about what you want to accomplish and how you can provide value and support to them. Your brand should reflect that what you say and what you do is aligned. If you want to build your brand according to Simon Sinek, you have to have a “WHY”.
The WHY, according to Sinek, is: “your purpose, cause or belief. Why does your company exist? Why did you get out of bed this morning? And why should anyone care?”
A personal brand is just that - it is personal and reflects your Why. You have to dig deep and be honest with yourself and others to showcase what your calling is. It is important to allow people to understand why you have a business, what it stands for, who you are, and what your values are. A personal brand that works is not just a flashy website and attention-grabbing words. A good personal brand reflects what kind of individual you are and why others would want to engage with you.
"A personal brand that works is not just a flashy website and attention-grabbing words."
To be or not to be
Why should I create and promote my brand? People do business with people! In this case, it does not matter if you are a business owner or employee. We all like to feel that we relate to one another, that we have something in common, share the same values, or have a similar outlook on life. A personal brand provides your potential clients or employers with that top-secret information. The brand answers a fundamental question “Is this person a good match for our business/company?”
I will not sugar coat it: Building and sustaining a good personal brand is hard work, it takes time, consistency, clarity, and authenticity. Your brand has to reflect you - your image, your mission, your values, and your vision. So, how do you go about it?
A few Basic Questions to ask yourself when you begin to create a personal brand:
➤ What is my expertise? What am I passionate about?
➤ What are my values?
➤ Who am I, and what is my position in the industry?
➤ Who is my audience?
➤ What will my brand stand for?
➤ What type of content will I post?
Once you answer these questions, you will most likely get closer to a clearer vision of what your brand will showcase. If not, you may need some assistance and a bit more soul searching. It may feel very challenging to answer these and other branding questions, but it is a good sign. It means you are on the right path. We all have the opportunity to show who we are and what we stand for professionally - we all have a brand. It is a fantastic tool, and once you get the ball rolling (remember it has to keep going), you will see the benefits that a strong, personal brand provides.