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Building a powerful personal brand

Straight from the Experts #1.

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Personal Branding

‘Personal branding’ seems to be on everyone’s minds nowadays. But what exactly is it, and more importantly, how can it help with your job search? Totaljobs turned to the experts to answer these questions and more.

Jump to a question:


Why should I care about my personal brand?

Research shows that over half of employers (57%) automatically run candidates’ names in a search engine to see what comes up. While many jobseekers see this as a threat, you can choose to view it as an opportunity. Carefully monitoring and curating your personal brand can be a powerful boost to your job search and future success at work.

The benefits of a powerful personal brand include greater credibility, recognition and prestige as well as higher perceived value – all of which could help you impress recruiters and land your dream job.

How should I define my personal brand?

Krishna De, Digital Communications and Personal Branding Strategist, explains that brand audits are essential to understanding your personal brand:

“It is hard to believe that it has been almost 20 years since Tom Peters’ article ‘The Brand Called You’ was first published in Fast Company. Since then, thousands of articles have been crafted to help us define and leverage our personal brand. Many often start with stating that we need to create our personal brand – but that is not accurate.

Personal Branding
You see, we all already have a personal brand. It is what we are known for. It is how people describe us to others. Our personal brand is our reputation. What many of us do not take into consideration is that our reputation is made up of a myriad of things – every experience someone has of us – from the way we write an email, how we enter a room at a meeting, to the posts we share publicly on our Snapchat Stories.

If you have never thought about defining your personal brand, a good place to start is with a personal brand audit. There are many resources available that you can use. Three resources that are particularly helpful are the Strengths Finder, The Reach 360 Personal Brand Assessment and the book ‘How The World Sees You’.

This assessment will help you define what your strengths are and how others perceive you. You can then determine if your self-assessment is aligned with other people’s perceptions.

As part of your personal brand assessment, it is critical to understand your digital footprint – your online reputation. As you undertake your personal digital audit, you be able to identify what can be discovered if someone was to search your name online. Does the content you have published online reflect what you want to be known for? If not, you may need to put in place an online reputation action plan.”

How should I use social media to build my personal brand?

Paul Sutton photo
Paul Sutton, Independent Social Media Consultant, describes the best approach to building your brand on social media:

“It sounds obvious, but Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and all other social networks revolve around people; the way we behave and the way we interact with one another. Without people, the technology and the algorithms that drive them are nothing. And understanding this is the key to using social media to build your reputation.

Online reputations are built as much by your ability to converse in open dialogue with others as they are by what you know. Those who do it well spend at least half of their time simply talking to others about mutually relevant topics. They spend most of the rest of their time reading others’ content and opinions, and sharing those across their networks to prompt conversations.

This flies in the face of what you’ll read from self-proclaimed ‘social media gurus’, who’ll tell you that you need to be tweeting links to content 50 times per day. That approach is less about reputation and more about so-called ‘influence scores’, which are essentially meaningless.

True reputation – the type that is beneficial and long-term – is built by gaining respect from others. Social media gives you the opportunity to gain that respect by leaving insightful comments on people’s blog posts, having intelligent conversations with others on Twitter and LinkedIn, and by sharing great content on Facebook.

Research and take part in Twitter chats relevant to your industry. Join LinkedIn groups where other influential people converse about topical issues. Subscribe to blogs using either email or an RSS reader and make the time to comment regularly.

It’s about being on the ball and having an opinion. And it’s about being humble and grateful. Adopt that approach and you won’t go wrong.”

Read the second Straight from the Experts article:Finding Work You Love
Read the third Straight from the Experts article:Job-hopping: Can it Help or Hinder your Career?

Do I need a blog to build my personal brand?

Sarah Arrow, award-winning blogger, explains why jobseekers should create personal blogs:

“Your blog is the only place on the Internet that you own and control. It is your opportunity to sell yourself, your experiences and your capabilities.

To build a personal brand you need to create blog content that shows your values and educates/entertains your readers. Your ideal reader is the company that you wish to work for, and your values should be in alignment with theirs. If there’s a deviation then you’ll show why it’s a great thing and not a hindrance in some way, just like you show any weaknesses in a positive light in a job interview.

A personally branded blog will enable you to build a following and really get to understand the people who read it, and that means you can gain competitive insights and psychographic data that the “big data” doesn’t show. You can learn the why of your customers rather than the who, and discover truly what makes them buy – and that will makes you indispensable to any company.”

How should I deal with a personal branding crisis?

Lesley Everett Photo 3
Lesley Everett, Personal Branding Speaker and Coach, shares her top tips for dealing with an online reputation crisis:

“You need to ensure that every online post you make is in line with your authentic personal brand and how you want to be perceived.

Don’t create a false or inflated persona that can and will easily be uncovered at some point. If this happens online, you will be immediately branded as insincere, lacking in integrity and untrustworthy. People will start to question who you really are and a negative impression can be difficult to shake off.

So what do you do if you are suddenly faced with an online reputation crisis? Here are my top tips:

  1. Try not to get angry and rant, at least online! Take 24 hours to calm down and think about the situation. It may not be as bad as you first think.
  2. Consider if leaving it and not adding fuel to the fire is your best option before doing anything. Remember, adding comments will only bring more attention to it.
  3. Recognise that people have their opinions and that negative comments are often more about them than you.
  4. What character traits are you most proud of and what can you use now to bring about a balance again? How can you reinforce your authentic self most powerfully and quickly?
  5. Don’t ever get into a heated discussion online. If you need to, clearly state your position on whatever the issue may be and leave it at that.

Your online brand is becoming the most effective way to build your brand and become known for what you’re great at, but it can easily be ruined too. Be clear about your personal brand and keep on track with every post you make.”

Krishna De offers her final advice as you embark upon your personal branding journey:

“Remember that your reputation, both online and offline, takes time to nurture, but it can take only minutes to destroy a positive reputation. Refining your personal brand is a lifetime’s work. Do not be surprised to find that as you develop your career, your personal brand will adapt as your experience grows and your personal vision for your career success continues to refine.”

Personal Branding
Read more about building your personal brand from career expert Aimee Bateman.

About the experts:

Krishna De is a Digital Communications and Personal Branding Strategist. You can follow her on Twitter to keep up to date with the resources and tips she shares.

Lesley Everett is a personal branding speaker and coach, author of Corporate Brand Personality and founder of Walking TALL. You can follow her on Twitter for tips on personal branding and executive reputation management.

Paul Sutton is an independent digital marketing and social media consultant. You can follow him on Twitter for creative campaign advice and best practices.

Sarah Arrow is an award winning blogger, Forbes listed for top websites and a champion of “lighting the way to show others”. You can follow her on Twitter for top blogging tips.

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