Written by Tam Starita
“Personal branding is no longer an option; it’s a powerful leadership enabler.” John Llopis, Contributor, Forbes.com
As we embark on the year 2016, there are many that take the opportunity to set a new year’s resolution, participate in visioning events, attend women’s circles as a way to reconnect, re-calibrate, get centered. If this is your path, and if career development is on the top of your list of goals, I’d like to suggest adding personal branding to your toolbox. Personal branding is such a powerful (and often a neglected or misused tool) that if implemented correctly and consistently, can lead to long-term career success. This could mean finally landing the job that you’ve been targeting, securing a higher paying position, transitioning to a different industry, getting a promotion, positioning yourself as an expert or leader in your field, or overtime, advancing more quickly in your career.
What is personal branding? In short, I see it as a representation of your personal design or DNA. It’s all the unique characteristics of who you are coupled with your values, experiences, skills, passions and ambitions for your life. These serve as your guiding principles, “North Star” if you will, that shape the overall experience that others consistently have with you. By truly knowing who you are and actively managing your personal brand puts you in the driver seat and positions you as a leader, mentor, role model, SHEro, or simply a voice that others can relate to. By shaping your personal brand, aka your trademark as an asset, you are able to stay on path and focused in your career.
Based on a survey conducted by the John Llopis Group, a personal branding firm, and referenced in his article for Forbes.com, “less than 15% of people have truly defined their personal brand and less than 5% are living it consistently at work – each and every day.” Why? John and I both agree that it can indeed be overwhelmingly challenging; requiring great self-awareness, commitment, consistent action and accountability. Imagine if you are amongst the 15% to have intentionally managed your personal brand. Wouldn’t that add so greatly to your competitive advantage?
Here are 4 ways personal branding directly sustains your career success.
First, the personal branding process starts with self-awareness and an understanding of the landscape (or job market) that you’re going to be entering. This means looking deeply into who you are as an individual, knowing the aspects that sets you apart from others, setting the intentions you have for how you would like to live your life as well as how you will serve others in your job. Taking the time to set the intention and clarifying the answers to these questions will help serve as guideposts for your career search and development. Not having clarity in this area will result in a confusing and overwhelming career search. Worse, you may be in a job for a few years and realize that this is not at all what your heart desires. This can also create low confidence and low motivation. From the outside, potential employers can perceive this constant change in direction as uncertainty or lack of commitment. Doing this hard work up front creates more ease and peace of mind for a smoother career transition.
Secondly, the benefits of going through the intentional exercises of personal branding yields a blueprint that allows you to direct all your career development and advancement decisions. Consider this blueprint as a way of being manifested in your career and life. Like an architect constructing a building, this blueprint guides you on what jobs to pursue, which companies to follow, places, communities and people to network with, marketing vehicles to utilize to share your expertise, and so on. This keeps you on course toward a more integrated and sustainable career path.
Thirdly, through the course of personal branding discovery, you gain awareness that helps shape how you tell your own cohesive and consistent brand story. This brand story allows current or potential employers, partners, colleagues, and friends to see you as you view yourself. Your brand story will evolve over time as you have further self awareness and experiences. However, it shouldn’t deviate so drastically that it’s hard for others to recognize your brand. It further helps cut through the noise and tell your story clearly and concisely. As a result, you create a reputation of being an authentic, credible, magnetic, impactful professional, leader, connector, and individual. This also leads to a sustainable career and trusting relationship with you.
Lastly, the ability to understand your unique personality, voice, style and so much more in the personal branding process allows you to make some key decisions as to what vehicles and marketing platforms you would like to share your unique story. The ability to have this sort of control puts you in the driver seat of your career and positions you for success. Furthermore, unlike other assets that you leave behind after moving on from a company, your personal brand is an asset that you own for your entire lifetime and beyond.
We all know that the path of career development and management can be a very stressful process. There are many tools that can shape our overall experience and provide a competitive edge. I believe that an active commitment in developing your personal brand provides you with such an advantage and positively shapes your career for long-term success.Share