Why building your personal brand is key to career success

Elizabeth Smithburg

There are a lot of things to think about when it comes to creating and growing your career. But one thing that ought to get more of your attention is your personal brand – because your personal brand is the means by which people remember you.

According to Jeff Bezo, one’s personal brand is “what people say about you when you’re not in the room.” It is what you stand for and how you present yourself. It is the collection of your perceptions, behaviors, feelings, and responses to anything that happens to you; it is an affirmation of who you are.

Understanding your personal brand means that you will gain insight into the things that make people gravitate towards you. Successful job-searching means differentiating yourself from the rest of the applicants, which is made possible through strong personal branding that showcases your unique value and contributions.

So, what is your personal brand and how do you go about building one?

Here are some simple questions you can ask yourself and others to gain greater clarity about your own identity and how you would like to come off to the world around you.

Ask trusted people questions to help you understand the impression you give off to others.

Ask six people, three personal and three professional ties, in your life the following questions about you:

  • Describe me in one sentence.
  • What animal best defines the way you see me?
  • What behaviors do you most appreciate about me?
  • If you could change one thing about me what would it be?
  • What would I be remembered for?

Be detached from the answers and look at them from an objective third-party perspective. Are the answers similar? Different? Now summarize (in one sentence) how you come off in your 1. Personal relationships, 2. Professional relationships, and 3. Relationships in general (i.e., underlying themes from 1 and 2).

Ask yourself questions to better understand the brand that you show to others.

Find a quiet space and do whatever you need to do to connect to yourself. Now, ask yourself the following questions:

  • Based on my thoughts, behaviors, and actions, what is a good word to describe me?
  • Based on my current situation, what behaviors should I do more of?
  • Based on my current role, what stories and thoughts do I need to stop, continue, and have more of?

The things we do repetitively will tell the story of who we are. What does my behavior tell other me about my personal brand? It’s imperative to be conscious of our behaviors and see how they fit into the brand we want to give off.

Create a tagline or slogan that will define who you want to be perceived as.

Review your answers to how others see you and how you see yourself. Now, explore the things that make people gravitate towards you: what’s your core essence? What are your unique contributions to the world in relation to the context you are currently living? What are some limiting belief you keep telling yourself that is not serving your authentic self? People with successful personal brands are individuals who can differentiate themselves by consistently articulating and leveraging their unique selling proposition. Create a tagline that epitomizes who you are and how you would like to be perceived.

A study by research firm Millennial Branding showed that 98% of employers say effective communication are essential for their job candidates. Clarifying and articulating your own personal brand will allow companies to understand what makes you stand out. Be sure to convey this consistent brand across your social media platforms and in your own physical presence. It will distinguish you from the rest of the applicants. It’s important to know that you are not selling, you are letting your authentic self emerge in a way that will have people remember you.

 

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Written by Elizabeth Smithburg and Maria Campillo. Elizabeth Smithburg is a career coach who helps professionals gain clarity on their goals, values, and strengths and provides guidance on how to make goals actionable and real. Maria Campillo is an executive coach and facilitator with more than 14 years of experience training small, medium, and large business C-suite leaders to improve business operations. They both live in Chicago with their families. 

 

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