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Published on March 11, 2020

What Is Personal Branding and Why Is It Important for Your Career?

What Is Personal Branding and Why Is It Important for Your Career?

The idea of creating a personal brand can be a little intimidating and confusing. Are you feeling left behind in the world of personal branding? In this article, you will learn why personal branding is important, regardless of whether you are an entrepreneur or a corporate employee, and how to take simple steps to start, build, and enhance your personal brand.

The Rise of Personal Branding

Personal branding is much more than just a logo, color scheme, or personal image.

The rise and domination of social media platforms has created entirely new categories of people that we now call “influencers” who seem to come out of nowhere and suddenly achieve celebrity status.

Musicians, actors, and other creatives have exploded their presence around the world by using personal branding. Small, start-up businesses have expanded into marketing powerhouses with global audiences and customer bases simply by building personal brands.

Personal branding is now an entire industry in itself with branding coaches and consultants that specialize specifically in helping you build your personal brand. There are books, online courses, videos, and entire companies that are dedicated to helping you build your personal brand. But where do you start?

What Is Personal Branding and Why Should You Care?

The term “branding” was once associated primarily with big businesses…you know, those nameless, faceless mega-companies delivering everything from toothpaste to breakfast cereals to automobiles. However, the social landscape has changed.

Personal branding has become a vital part of success in any business, especially when you are the “face of the brand.” Whether you’re an entrepreneur, or you work for a small business or large corporation, how you portray yourself, both in-person and in the “web-o-sphere,” can make a big difference in both your short- and long-term success strategy.

When you consider some of the largest companies (“brands”) in the world, don’t you also associate the personal brand of the owner with that corporate brand? For example, when you think of Amazon, doesn’t Jeff Bezos also pop into your mind? What about Virgin Group and it’s over 200 companies—Richard Branson, right? And who can separate Apple from the late, great Steve Jobs? The same goes for Oprah Winfrey and her various brands, Elon Musk with Tesla and now SpaceX, and the list goes on.

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Why Is Personal Branding Important to Your Career?

Personal branding empowers you to stand out in your chosen field. Whether you are an employee looking to rise up and climb the corporate ladder or a CEO building your own entrepreneurial venture, personal branding brings you credibility and attention. Building your personal brand adds a key element to your company’s marketing strategy and builds stronger internal communication with your team.

Personal branding even affects you if you are in the job market seeking employment. Research has found that an astounding 70% of employers use social networking sites like Facebook and Instagram to research prospective employees before hiring them. Nearly half (48%) check up on their current employees using social media, and over a third (34%) have either reprimanded or fired and employees based on social media posts and other content found online.[1]

Why is personal branding important? Because the world is watching! How you present yourself online does make a difference, even if you think no one cares.

How Social Media Affects Your Personal Brand

In our fast-paced, modern technological age, social media seems to have virtually taken over our lives. Most of us are on multiple social media platforms like Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, Twitter, and LinkedIn. It is now commonplace to see people glued to their phones, scrolling through social media platforms and engaging in other online activities.

When it comes to your personal branding, you can be assured that your audience is on social media, too. How you present yourself on your chosen platforms will determine their level of engagement.

Researchers have pointed to a phenomenon called “participation inequality” to explain the importance of online engagement. For every person actively engaging with your content (i.e., liking, commenting, reposting), there are likely to be 9 others who are engaging intermittently and 90 more who are just lurking. Yes, the world is watching indeed.[2]

Personal Branding: Not Just for Influencers Anymore

You can benefit greatly from personal branding, regardless of whether your intended outcome is becoming an “influencer” in today’s social media space.

Rory Vaden, the co-founder of Brand Builders Group, pointed out the importance of personal branding for everyone when he stated:

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“People don’t do business with companies. They do business with people they like. We have relationships based on trust and mutual connections. There’s just something about a connection with a human being that creates a level of endearment and customer loyalty beyond any relationship a company could ever reach. The strong bonds people have with one another can’t be overestimated.”[3]

An Important Element of Your Personal Brand

Virtually every authority on personal branding suggests that you start by answering questions surrounding your core values. This is the foundation of your personal brand.

Here are a few questions to get you started:

  • What is important to you?
  • What do you value?
  • What do you cherish?
  • Who do you want to impact the most?

The answers to these questions will help you to create the connection you need with your audience and build your personal brand.

To get started creating or growing your personal branding strategy, you can consult this comprehensive infographic, which will help you stay on track with your personal branding strategy.

7 Ways You Can Start Developing Your Personal Brand Today

1. Start With the End in Mind

What is your intention behind personal branding? To start defining, developing, or building your personal brand, first decide what you want to accomplish with your branding strategy. For example, is your intention simply to present yourself better or more clearly in the world? Or do you have a specific business strategy in mind for building your personal brand?

When working with my own coaching and consulting clients, I have developed a simple strategy that I call “The 3 Core Questions” to consider before you take any step that involves connecting with your audience.

That means that before you create a video, before you write a blog article, before you write an email, before you put out any message in any format or platform, answer “The 3 Core Questions” as clearly and in as much detail as you can. Adding this single strategy to your messaging will push more power into your personal brand.

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The 3 Core Questions:
  • Who are you? (your message, your story, your professional core values)
  • Who are you talking to? (your audience, their interests, their desired outcomes)
  • What do you want them to do next and why? (your calls to action and irresistible offers)

2. Be Authentic

Be yourself, but know your stuff! Your goal in personal branding is to build your tribe. And your tribe is likely to be people who have similar interests, desires, and goals as you. Share from the heart. Tell your story.

Don’t fall prey to the idea that you can “fake it ’til you make it.” While that may work for a while, it isn’t going to fool most people for very long.

Remember that part of personal branding is about creating authority and respect among your tribe. You can do that by staying a step ahead, anticipating their needs, and responding to their desired outcomes. There is magic in the combination of being yourself and still giving your tribe what they want.

3. Be Clear in Your Focus

People’s attention span is short these days. In most cases, you will run into challenges if you try to be everything to everyone. Determine who your audience is based on your own core value system and then clearly craft your messaging toward them.

You’ll want to grab your audience’s attention quickly with each piece of content you create while staying true to your brand throughout.

4. Choose Quality Over Quantity

It’s far better to have 1,000 loyal followers than to have 100,000 people who aren’t 100% clear about who you are. This is especially true if your ultimate goal is to monetize your tribe. There is a saying in marketing that “a buyer is a buyer is a buyer.” What that means is that if your followers buy one thing from you, they are far more likely to take you up on your future offers, too.

Even if monetizing your audience is not your intention, you will achieve much better engagement and interaction among people who align with your core values.

5. Be Consistent

Because your personal brand is built around your core values, it is essential to be consistent about how and when you show up. That means consistency in your messaging, your overall branding (like logos, color schemes, etc.) and even when you are posting your content.

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For example, if your YouTube audience and followers expect you to post a video on Friday mornings, then stay consistent with that schedule, even if you don’t make specific announcements about when your content will appear.

6. Speak to Your Tribe as Individuals, Not in GroupSpeak

People in general love to be included as part of the group, but they actually respond more enthusiastically when being addressed as individuals. Have you ever been watching a YouTube video and heard the person refer to the audience as “you guys” or “my tribe” or even worse, “my followers”? It tends to sound impersonal, not to mention the implied ego trip that creeps in with references like that.

Let’s face it, each of us is our own favorite subject, and even though we love being part of a tribe, we also love to be respected as individuals. One of the best ways to make a deeper connection with someone is to use their name.

In a social media post or when addressing your tribe as a whole, even though are you speaking to a group, set yourself up for success by using “you” instead of “you guys.” [Hint: read back over this article and you’ll see how I have been doing that with you all along.]

7. Own Your Brand

I mean this both figuratively and literally.

Figuratively speaking, walk your talk both online and offline. Authentically own your brand by living the lifestyle projected in your personal brand.

If you are building a company structure around your brand, then literally owning the social media handles and extensions, domains, trademarks, and any other intellectual property is an important part of owning your brand.

Final Thoughts

Even if you started out with some confusion about personal branding, as you can see, the process can be simple, but it does require some thought and a little effort. This article has laid out the basics of personal branding and a few key strategies that you can use to build or enhance your personal brand.

Stretch yourself, reach a little higher, get clear on your personal brand, and you will see both short-term and long-term results in your business or career.

Featured photo credit: Austin Distel via unsplash.com

Reference

More by this author

Jeffrey Howard

Jeffrey Howard is a Serial Entrepreneur, Peak Performance Coach and Consultant, Bio/NeuroHacker, Speaker, Author, Trainer, Musician and Producer

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Last Updated on October 13, 2020

How to Get Promoted When You Feel Stuck in Your Current Position

How to Get Promoted When You Feel Stuck in Your Current Position

Have you been stuck in the same position for too long and don’t really know how to get promoted and advance your career?

Feeling stuck could be caused by a variety of things:

  • Taking a job for the money
  • Staying with an employer that no longer aligns with your values
  • Realizing that you landed yourself in the wrong career
  • Not feeling valued or feeling underutilized
  • Taking a position without a full understanding of the role

There are many other reasons why you may be feeling this way, but let’s focus instead on learning what to do now in order to get unstuck and get promoted

One of the best ways to get promoted is by showing how you add value to your organization. Did you make money, save money, improve a process, or do some other amazing thing? How else might you demonstrate added value?

Let’s dive right in to how to get promoted when you feel stuck in your current position.

1. Be a Mentor

When I supervised students, I used to warm them — tongue in cheek, of course — about getting really good at their job.

“Be careful not to get too good at this, or you’ll never get to do anything else.”

This was my way of pestering them to take on additional challenges or think outside the box, but there is definitely some truth in doing something so well that your manager doesn’t trust anyone else to do it.

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This can get you stuck.

Jo Miller of Be Leaderly shares this insight on when your boss thinks you’re too valuable in your current job:

“Think back to a time when you really enjoyed your current role…You became known for doing your job so well that you built up some strong ‘personal brand’ equity, and people know you as the go-to-person for this particular job. That’s what we call ‘a good problem to have’: you did a really good job of building a positive perception about your suitability for the role, but you may have done ‘too’ good of a job!”[1]

With this in mind, how do you prove to your employer that you can add value by being promoted?

From Miller’s insight, she talks about building your personal brand and becoming known for doing a particular job well. So how can you link that work with a position or project that will earn you a promotion?

Consider leveraging your strengths and skills.

Let’s say that the project you do so well is hiring and training new entry-level employees. You have to post the job listing, read and review resumes, schedule interviews, make hiring decisions, and create the training schedules. These tasks require skills such as employee relations, onboarding, human resources software, performance management, teamwork, collaboration, customer service, and project management. That’s a serious amount of skills!

Are there any team members who can perform these skills? Try delegating and training some of your staff or colleagues to learn your job. There are a number of reasons why this is a good idea:

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  1. Cross-training helps in any situation in the event that there’s an extended illness and the main performer of a certain task is out for a while.
  2. As a mentor to a supervisee or colleague, you empower them to increase their job skills.
  3. You are already beginning to demonstrate that added value to your employer by encouraging your team or peers to learn your job and creating team players.

Now that you’ve trained others to do that work for which you have been so valued, you can see about re-requesting that promotion. Explain how you have saved the company money, encouraged employees to increase their skills, or reinvented that project of yours.

2. Work on Your Mindset

Another reason you may feel stuck in a position is explained through this quote:

“If you feel stuck at a job you used to love, it’s normally you—not the job—who needs to change. The position you got hired for is probably the exact same one you have now. But if you start to dread the work routine, you’re going to focus on the negatives.”[2]

In this situation, you should pursue a conversation with your supervisor and share your thoughts and feelings to help you learn how to get promoted. You can probably get some advice on how to rediscover the aspects of that job you enjoyed, and negotiate either some additional duties or a chance to move up.

Don’t express frustration. Express a desire for more.

Present your case and show your boss or supervisor that you want to be challenged, and you want to move up. You want more responsibility in order to continue moving the company forward. Focus on how you can do that with the skills you have and the positive mindset you’ve cultivated.

3. Improve Your Soft Skills

When was the last time you put focus and effort into upping your game with those soft skills? I’m talking about those seemingly intangible things that make you the experienced professional in your specific job skills[3].

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Use soft skills when learning how to get promoted.

    According to research, improving soft skills can boost productivity and retention 12 percent and deliver a 250 percent return on investment based on higher productivity and retention[4]. Those are only some of the benefits for both you and your employer when you want to learn how to get promoted.

    You can hone these skills and increase your chances of promotion into a leadership role by taking courses or seminars.

    Furthermore, you don’t necessarily need to request funding from your supervisor. There are dozens of online courses being presented by entrepreneurs and authors about these very subjects. Udemy and Creative Live both feature online courses at very reasonable prices. And some come with completion certificates for your portfolio!

    Another way to improve your soft skills is by connecting with an employee at your organization who has a position similar to the one you want.

    Express your desire to move up in the organization, and ask to shadow that person or see if you can sit in on some of their meetings. Offer to take that individual out for coffee and ask what their secret is! Take copious notes, and then immerse yourself in the learning.

    The key here is not to copy your new mentor. Rather, you want to observe, learn, and then adapt according to your strengths.

    4. Develop Your Strategy

    Do you even know specifically why you want to learn how to get promoted? Do you see a future at this company? Do you have a one-year, five-year, or ten-year plan for your career path? How often do you consider your “why” and insure that it aligns with your “what”?

    Sit down and make an old-fashioned pro and con list.

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    Write down every positive aspect of your current job and then every negative one. Which list is longer? Are there any themes present?

    Look at your lists and choose the most exciting pros and the most frustrating cons. Do those two pros make the cons worth it? If you can’t answer that question with a “yes,” then getting promoted at your current organization may not be what you really want[5].

    The two most important days in your life are the day you are born and the day you find out why. —Mark Twain

    Here are some questions to ask yourself:

    • Why do you do what you do?
    • What thrills you about your current job role or career?
    • What does a great day look like?
    • What does success look and feel like beyond the paycheck?
    • How do you want to feel about your impact on the world when you retire?

    Define success to get promoted

      These questions would be great to reflect on in a journal or with your supervisor in your next one-on-one meeting. Or, bring it up with one of your work friends over coffee.

      Final Thoughts

      After considering all of these points and doing your best to learn how to get promoted, what you might find is that being stuck is your choice. Then, you can set yourself on the path of moving up where you are, or moving on to something different.

      Because sometimes the real promotion is finding your life’s purpose.

      More Tips on How to Get Promoted

      Featured photo credit: Razvan Chisu via unsplash.com

      Reference

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