Just as it’s imperative for your firm to cultivate a strong brand, developing a personal brand is critical to your long-term success. While many people hear ‘personal brand’ and immediately think of social media influencers and celebrities, personal branding is highly advantageous for any professional in a leadership role — or those aspiring to reach such heights.
A personal brand extends beyond your resume, LinkedIn profile, or business card; it’s a reflection of how other people perceive you. What emotions do you evoke in others? What causes, interests, or skills do others associate you with?
As you develop and expand your personal brand, you’ll discover that doors related to your influence and impact open for you, impacting both career and leadership development. When people truly understand who you are — not just your title or job description — they’ll gravitate towards you with prospects tailored to your career trajectory. A robust personal brand inspires those around you to have confidence in your abilities, amplifies your leadership influence, and ensures you remain top-of-mind among leaders in your industry.
Now, how do you develop a habit of continuously crafting a personal brand? Here are seven strategies you can use to kickstart your journey.
1. Define Your Leadership Persona
Before embarking on the journey of shaping your personal brand, it’s essential to define what you want that brand to represent. The best place to start? Focus on your existing strengths, values, and vision. Embrace your inherent talents and build your personal brand around them.
Uncertain about your own strengths and skills? Take assessments and seek feedback from colleagues and friends to gauge how others perceive you. This process can illuminate areas in which you may have opportunities for growth. Once you’ve identified your strengths, craft a clear and concise leadership persona around them.
2. Maintain a Consistent Online Presence
After defining your leadership persona, project your personal brand into the public sphere. Need an effective way to achieve this? Maintain a consistent online presence.
Establish and optimize your LinkedIn profile and regularly share content that aligns with your brand. Ensure that your posts not only reinforce your personal brand but also offer value to those who read them. Additionally, remember to actively engage with your audience for maximum impact. For example, consider Adam Grant’s active LinkedIn page, which features multiple valuable posts each week. Some of these posts are simple insights regarding business, and other times he’s offering even more value, recommending resources to his followers. Due to this, he has amassed a following of more than 5 million people who come to him for his expertise in organizational psychology.
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3. Create Content Based on Thought Leadership
In addition to posting regularly, providing genuine value to your followers is crucial. Look to your expertise and consider how you can help others as a thought leader. Doing so can empower you to build your brand exponentially, as we’ve seen through movements like those that followed Sheryl Sandberg’s famous book Lean In.
Start by blogging, both on your platform and as a guest on industry blogs, and consider podcasting as well, aiming for guest spots within your field. It’s essential to emphasize that your expertise should align with your offerings. This alignment reinforces the importance of developing a personal brand rooted in your existing strengths.
4. Network Strategically
When participating in networking events or industry conferences, approach them with a strategic mindset. Consider which partnerships and relationships align most directly with your personal brand. Assess what you can contribute to your network and clearly explain your value to others.
5. Maintain Authenticity and Transparency
Commit to authenticity and transparency as you cultivate your network and develop your personal brand. Occasionally, this commitment might require you to embrace vulnerability, and doing so can demonstrate your humanity alongside your expertise. Consider Brene Brown, for example, and the personal brand she has built for herself by embracing vulnerability. When you make mistakes, acknowledge them, and when you gain insights, share them.
6. Mentor and Give Back
Often, people assume the mentor-mentee relationship is only valuable to the mentee. However, mentoring can be highly useful as you grow your personal brand. This is one tactic that Oprah Winfrey has used, offering mentorship initiatives that align with her values and personal branding.
You can discover mentorship opportunities by sharing your expertise with less-experienced colleagues in your industry. Alternatively, you can explore more structured mentorship programs offered by organizations such as iMentor. These experiences can significantly contribute to the development of your personal brand.
7. Monitor and Adapt
As you grow your personal brand, understand that it’s not set in stone. Just as you constantly evolve, so should your personal brand. Throughout your career, you’ll likely refine your brand based on feedback and shifting values to better and more authentically serve your audience. Don’t be afraid to regularly assess your personal brand’s impact and adjust it accordingly.
The Bottom Line
Your personal brand exists whether you recognize it or not. If you choose to ignore or neglect it, others will define it for you. Take charge of your career by assessing your strengths, building a brand that revolves around them, and then expanding that brand through proper thought leadership content and authentic networking.
Need help building your personal brand and advancing professionally? Learn how Arootah’s leadership and career coaching can benefit you. Get started by signing up for a complimentary introductory call today.