As marketers and PR pros, we’re obsessed with the nuances of our company’s brand. But it’s just as critical to take control of your personal brand.
Trying to forge a professional connection with an industry influencer? Looking to move up (or out) at work? How you’re viewed by the people you interact with has a huge influence on how they respond to you. What’s more, personal brands often reflect on company brands (think Steve Jobs or Elon Musk).
But before you can begin leveraging your personal brand for professional success, you first need to understand what that future state looks like. Here’s how to start, including pro tips on how to assess the state of your current brand.
What is a personal brand, anyway — and why should I care?
On the Lay of the Brand podcast, we spoke with Carol Blymire, an expert on communications and personal branding, who described a personal brand much like a company brand: “what people say about you when you’re not there.” It’s about consistency and authenticity (another term with an evolving definition), she explained.
And it’s more than your reputation, which is about things you’ve said and done. Personal branding is a conscious act; it’s the steps you take to define yourself in multiple ways — the things you know, the things you believe, and the things you do.
Why is it crucial for marketers to take charge of their own brands?
Consider these situations:
- Career opportunities. Your personal brand comes into play at every stage of your career. How well you’re known and regarded in your industry (or even within your own company) and how you represent yourself affects how desirable you are for a new position — true for a beginner as well as an industry veteran. While being true to yourself is essential, Carol suggests you really look at your last 30 Instagram posts, your last 100 Tweets, and your last five TikToks. What do they tell people about who you are?
- Networking. People prefer to work with people they like and trust. As Carol explains, look at the things you participate in — groups, industry associations — and see if they match what you want to be known for.
- Effect on company brand. If you’re the face of the company, how you’re perceived is tied to the organization’s persona. Research says that 81% of fast-growing companies have “vocal” CEOs. But anyone who deals with customers, partners, and the media influences how the company is seen. So that big, bold statement you just made about a hot button topic? It reflects on your company’s brand, too.
Personal branding can have a major influence on your success, whether you’re just starting out or you’ve been building your career for years. For marketers, understanding your own brand can help you — and the organization you represent — build relationships that can take you further.