Personal brand was first talked about by management guru Tom Peters back in the 1990s. Declaring in an article for Fast Company magazine that “we are CEOs of our own companies: Me Inc”, Peters urged individuals who wanted to prosper in the world of work to take lessons from the major brands.
A great deal has been written and talked about this subject since and those who have grasped the importance of “brand me” have seen it pay dividends. A strong personal brand is vital for those wishing to move up the leadership ladder. It marks you out, makes sure you are spotted by headhunters and resourcing professionals and places you in the frame for your next great career move.
The day-to-day pressures of senior management and leadership mean it is easy to neglect your personal brand but it is important to allocate time to nurture and manage it. Here are five tips to get you started.
Who are you and what do you stand for?
It is important to have a clear picture of who you are and how you are perceived by others, and that includes by subordinates, peers, colleagues, superiors as well as customers. Take some time to jot down a few words and short sentences that sum you up. What are your unique selling points? What marks you out compared to others? What attributes have you got to offer? Also list your strengths and weaknesses and what is important to you.
What do others think?
Test what you find by seeking feedback from friends and colleagues about how they perceive you. It is a good sign if there is concurrence about what you stand for as it suggests the brand has some value. Identify any disconnects between your self-perceptions and what others think and consider why these exist. Chances are your external behaviour and actions isn’t always consistent with the image you have of yourself and you need to address this.
Ensure you are the real deal
Brand building and management will be more straightforward if it comes from the heart and is truly representative of you. Build your personal brand on genuine and authentic foundations and don’t try to be something you aren’t. Consider your behaviours and actions at all times and whether they reflect yourself and the brand. Being authentic can remove a lot of the hard work of brand-building because it happens naturally.
Court the media
Forge relationships with journalists at the magazines, publications and websites in your sector and offer to contribute blogs or thought leadership pieces for free. Make yourself the go-to person for comment in your specialist field when issues in your sector arise or there is a major development. Avoid using such opportunities to merely promote yourself or your company. Anything you write or comment on must be relevant and worthy of being included.
Network online and offline
Online networking plays a huge part in building personal brand. Make sure your profiles are up-to-date and consistent and be sure to link to any articles, blogs or thought leadership pieces you’ve authored. Use the networks to react and comment on developments in your sector and, when appropriate lead discussion. When connecting with people, remember networking is a two-way street and be prepared to help and give advice to others. Don’t confine your efforts to an online bubble though. Set aside time to get out to events such as conferences and seminar to do some face-to-face networking. Rialto’s #LeadershipLunches are among the events that can provide good networking opportunities.