You may be forgiven for thinking that personal branding is a simple, egotistical, naval-gazing exercise of little value other than to help you achieve career advancement at some point in your professional life, it is however, so much more than this.
Uncovering your personal brand helps give you clarity on where it is you want to go in life, what your aspirations and goals are, and a plan on how to get there.
From a personal perspective, when you identify your personal brand, strengthen and develop it into a powerful narrative, this could be the key to uncovering your true purpose in life. It can help you reach higher levels of personal fulfillment and it could be the deciding factor when it comes to a promotion or a new job.
To clients your personal brand is your reputation, your calling card – “Your personal brand is a promise…..… a promise of quality, consistency, competency, and reliability” – Jason Hartman, author of Become the Brand of Choice
As early as 1937 in the book Think and Grow Rich, Napoleon Hill first talked about the subject of personal branding. Many years later, Tom Peters’ article entitled The Brand Called You, is widely credited with highlighting the importance of the personal branding conversation and looked into how we can leverage its power in today’s world.
What’s highlighted and agreed by both authors and the many commentators who have written and spoken on the subject since, is that formulating and continually redefining your personal brand can translate into success in the workplace, open doors to new opportunities and accelerate career growth.
Having spent over 20 years working in wealth management and private banking, Templar consultant Gareth Lewis, knows the importance of personal branding in the workplace all too well and shares his insights into how you can use it to supercharge your career.
The IMPORTANCE of HAVing A PERSONAL BRAND
“Regardless of age, regardless of position, regardless of the business we happen to be in, all of us need to understand the importance of branding. We are CEOs of our own companies: Me Inc. To be in business today, our most important job is to be head marketer for the brand called You. – Tom Peters, The Brand Called You
Having a personal brand tells your story without you having to say a word – it’s essentially what you want to be known for.
Our clients often ask if there’s a specific time to start thinking about developing their personal brands and at what point do they revisit it. In the same way as a brand such as Samsung continually refine their brand, you should continually edit and update your personal brand. Great brands never stop tweaking their products, coming up with advertising campaigns to remain front of mind and they never stop finding ways to reward their loyal customers – neither should you.
One of the easiest ways to get you thinking about your personal brand is to analyse some of the popular brands you come across in everyday life. Take Apple as an example – most of you reading this article will have at least one of their products, a sign that people have bought into their narrative as “leaders” and “innovators”.
A quick and simple brand audit, will help you to identify areas of weakness and give you an indication of the steps you need to take to improve your overall brand.
- Quality – Drawing parallels with the likes of Apple, look at how good your product really is – your work and your output.
- Association – Think about what you want to be known for and what you want your narrative to be.
- Awareness – How wide is your network? Who knows about you and how are you leveraging your networks?
- Loyalty – Is your audience loyal to you? Do they turn to you for advice or consult you?
A newly promoted vice president at one of the major investment banks who is hardworking has delivered on all his key performance indicators and has helped bring in new clients. In terms of performance, nothing seems to be missing but when we dig a little deeper, we see that very few people know him outside of his own department or team.
He spends all of his time at his desk, he never circulates around the office, never stops at the coffee machine to talk to anyone, he steers clear of networking, social events and is certainly never seen to volunteer for recruitment events and the like.
A quick brand audit shows that while his work is first class, he’s a well-kept secret and no one outside of a small circle knows him. Our advice to him would be to devise a plan to widen his network and overall exposure across the bank.
IDENTIFYing your brAND AND DEVELOPING YOUR NARRATIVE
Be clear on your objectives
What is it that you want to achieve? Where do you want to take your career – Partner, MD, Divisional Head or maybe it’s starting up a venture on your own. Set SMART objectives and map the route you need to take to get there.
Evaluate the current state of your brand
Conduct a GAP analysis to assess the current state of your brand and then evaluate your brand equity by comparing yourself to a great brand by looking at quality, association, awareness and loyalty. By identifying areas of weakness, you’ll be able to identify missing links, what you need to do to improve your personal brand and the narrative that brings it to life.
Develop your own mission statement
Create a narrative that moves and inspires you. We recently coached a private banker and his professional mission statement stated: “I want to earn the right to get the first phone call from my client.” This is an example of an inspiring and clear mission statement that clearly shows the position he wants to get to with every client.
SO ASK YOURSELF:
- Where is it I want to get to in the relationships I have with my clients?
- What do I want to achieve with my colleagues and those around me?
- What does “best” look like to me?
- What legacy do I want to leave?
Plan and review
Formulate a plan, execute, review and fine tune on a regular basis.
THE POWER OF NETWORKS
For Apple, there’s no point developing a new product if no one gets to hear about it and use it. On a personal level, being a well-kept secret will serve no value in helping you achieve your personal and career goals (unless of course that is your goal). While there are many ways to create awareness for your brand, the most powerful way is to leverage your networks and use them to develop a loyal following.
Networks take many forms – formal or informal, clubs, societies or groups. In today’s digital world, online communities such as Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn have the power to get your brand and narrative to a wide audience at the click of a button.
MANAGING YOUR ONLINE PRESENCE
It’s important to remember that everything you post online is there for the world to see, so ask yourself the question: do your online profiles and the content you post boost your brand and truly represent everything you stand for.
A Google search on a name will bring up a Facebook, LinkedIn or Twitter profile and a scroll through some of their posts very quickly builds a picture of the person. So make sure that picture is the one you want the world to see. If it isn’t, audit and curate your online presence.
From a business and career perspective, LinkedIn (or its global equivalents) is the key online networking tool. Having a LinkedIn profile unlocks a vast global network so make the most of the opportunity by carefully crafting a profile that tells a powerful story. Don’t just list the jobs you’ve done, tell the story of what you’ve done in your career and the value you bring to your network.
If you want to be seen as an “expert” in a given field use your profile to post and share content that highlights your expertise. Nurture and build your network by connecting with the people you meet and by following organisations with who you work or seek to work. Join discussion groups and when you’ve received great feedback from a client, send them a recommendation request.
Whatever you seek to achieve in your professional life, time spent crafting and regularly fine-tuning your personal brand is a hugely worthwhile investment. Don’t be a well-kept secret, leverage the power of your networks to deliver your narrative and SUPERCHARGE your career today.