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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

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Jeffrey Howard

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

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

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Last Updated on March 25, 2020

How to Set Ambitious Career Goals (With Examples)

How to Set Ambitious Career Goals (With Examples)

Taking your work to the next level means setting and keeping career goals. A career goal is a targeted objective that explains what you want your ultimate profession to be.

Defining career goals is a critical step to achieving success. You need to know where you’re going in order to get there. Knowing what your career goals are isn’t just important for you–it’s important for potential employers too. The relationship between an employer and an employee works best when your goals for the future and their goals align. Saying, “Oh, I don’t know. I’ll do anything,” makes you seem indecisive, and opens you up to taking on ill-fitting tasks that won’t lead you to your dream life.

Career goal templates’ one-size-fits-all approach won’t consider your unique goals and experiences. They won’t help you stand out, and they may not reflect your full potential.

In this article, I’ll help you to define your career goals with SMART goal framework, and will provide you with a list of examples goals for work and career.

How to Define Your Career Goal with SMART

Instead of relying on a generalized framework to explain your vision, use a tried-and-true goal-setting model. SMART is an acronym for “Specific, Measurable, Action-oriented, Realistic with Timelines.”[1] The SMART framework demystifies goals by breaking them into smaller steps.

Helpful hints when setting SMART career goals:

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  • Start with short-term goals first. Work on your short-term goals, and then progress the long-term interests.[2] Short-term goals are those things which take 1-3 years to complete. Long-term goals take 3-5 years to do. As you succeed in your short-term goals, that success should feed into accomplishing your long-term goals.
  • Be specific, but don’t overdo it. You need to define your career goals, but if you make them too specific, then they become unattainable. Instead of saying, “I want to be the next CEO of Apple, where I’ll create a billion-dollar product,” try something like, “My goal is to be the CEO of a successful company.”
  • Get clear on how you’re going to reach your goals. You should be able to explain the actions you’ll take to advance your career. If you can’t explain the steps, then you need to break your goal down into more manageable chunks.
  • Don’t be self-centered. Your work should not only help you advance, but it should also support the goals of your employer. If your goals differ too much, then it might be a sign that the job you’ve taken isn’t a good fit.

If you want to learn more about setting SMART Goals, watch the video below to learn how you can set SMART career goals.

After you’re clear on how to set SMART goals, you can use this framework to tackle other aspects of your work. For instance, you might set SMART goals to improve your performance review, look for a new job, or shift your focus to a different career.

We’ll cover examples of ways to use SMART goals to meet short-term career goals in the next section.

Why You Need an Individual Development Plan

Setting goals is one part of the larger formula for success. You may know what you want to do, but you also have to figure out what skills you have, what you lack, and where your greatest strengths and weaknesses are.

One of the best ways to understand your capabilities is by using the Science Careers Individual Development Plan skills assessment. It’s free, and all you need to do is register an account and take a few assessments.

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These assessments will help you determine if your career goals are realistic. You’ll come away with a better understanding of your unique talents and skill-sets. You may decide to change some of your career goals or alter your timeline based on what you learn.

40 Examples of Goals for Work & Career

All this talk of goal-setting and self-assessment may sound great in theory, but perhaps you need some inspiration to figure out what your goals should be.

For Changing a Job

  1. Attend more networking events and make new contacts.
  2. Achieve a promotion to __________ position.
  3. Get a raise.
  4. Plan and take a vacation this year.
  5. Agree to take on new responsibilities.
  6. Develop meaningful relationships with your coworkers and clients.
  7. Ask for feedback on a regular basis.
  8. Learn how to say, “No,” when you are asked to take on too much.
  9. Delegate tasks that you no longer need to be responsible for.
  10. Strive to be in a leadership role in __ number of years.

For Switching Career Path

  1. Pick up and learn a new skill.
  2. Find a mentor.
  3. Become a volunteer in the field that interests you.
  4. Commit to getting training or going back to school.
  5. Read the most recent books related to your field.
  6. Decide whether you are happy with your work-life balance and make changes if necessary. [3]
  7. Plan what steps you need to take to change careers.[4]
  8. Compile a list of people who could be character references or submit recommendations.
  9. Commit to making __ number of new contacts in the field this year.
  10. Create a financial plan.

For Getting a Promotion

  1. Reduce business expenses by a certain percentage.
  2. Stop micromanaging your team members.
  3. Become a mentor.
  4. Brainstorm ways that you could improve your productivity and efficiency at work
  5. Seek a new training opportunity to address a weakness.[5]
  6. Find a way to organize your work space.[6]
  7. Seek feedback from a boss or trusted coworker every week/ month/ quarter.
  8. Become a better communicator.
  9. Find new ways to be a team player.
  10. Learn how to reduce work hours without compromising productivity.

For Acing a Job Interview

  1. Identify personal boundaries at work and know what you should do to make your day more productive and manageable.
  2. Identify steps to create a professional image for yourself.
  3. Go after the career of your dreams to find work that does not feel like a job.
  4. Look for a place to pursue your interest and apply your knowledge and skills.
  5. Find a new way to collaborate with experts in your field.
  6. Identify opportunities to observe others working in the career you want.
  7. Become more creative and break out of your comfort zone.
  8. Ask to be trained more relevant skills for your work.
  9. Ask for opportunities to explore the field and widen your horizon
  10. Set your eye on a specific award at work and go for it.

Career Goal Setting FAQs

I’m sure you still have some questions about setting your own career goals, so here I’m listing out the most commonly asked questions about career goals.

1. What if I’m not sure what I want my career to be?

If you’re uncertain, be honest about it. Let the employer know as much as you know about what you want to do. Express your willingness to use your strengths to contribute to the company. When you take this approach, back up your claim with some examples.

If you’re not even sure where to begin with your career, check out this guide:

How to Find Your Ideal Career Path Without Wasting Time on Jobs Not Suitable for You

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2. Is it okay to lie about my career goals?

Lying to potential employers is bound to end in disaster. In the interview, a lie can make you look foolish because you won’t know how to answer follow up questions.

Even if you think your career goal may not precisely align with the employer’s expectations for a long-term hire, be open and honest. There’s probably more common ground than they realize, and it’s up to you to bridge any gaps in expectations.

Being honest and explaining these connections shows your employer that you’ve put a lot of thought into this application. You aren’t just telling them what they want to hear.

3. Is it better to have an ambitious goal, or should I play it safe?

You should have a goal that challenges you, but SMART goals are always reasonable. If you put forth a goal that is way beyond your capabilities, you will seem naive. Making your goals too easy shows a lack of motivation.

Employers want new hires who are able to self-reflect and are willing to take on challenges.

4. Can I have several career goals?

It’s best to have one clearly-defined career goal and stick with it. (Of course, you can still have goals in other areas of your life.) Having a single career goal shows that you’re capable of focusing, and it shows that you like to accomplish what you set out to do.

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On the other hand, you might have multiple related career goals. This could mean that you have short-term goals that dovetail into your ultimate long-term career goal. You might also have several smaller goals that feed into a single purpose.

For example, if you want to become a lawyer, you might become a paralegal and attend law school at the same time. If you want to be a school administrator, you might have initial goals of being a classroom teacher and studying education policy. In both cases, these temporary jobs and the extra education help you reach your ultimate goal.

Summary

You’ll have to devote some time to setting career goals, but you’ll be so much more successful with some direction. Remember to:

  • Set SMART goals. SMART goals are Specific, Measurable, Action-oriented, and Realistic with Timelines. When you set goals with these things in mind, you are likely to achieve the outcomes you want.
  • Have short-term and long-term goals. Short-term career goals can be completed in 1-3 years, while long-term goals will take 3-5 years to finish. Your short-term goals should set you up to accomplish your long-term goals.
  • Assess your capabilities by coming up with an Individual Development Plan. Knowing how to set goals won’t help you if you don’t know yourself. Understand what your strengths and weaknesses are by taking some self-assessments.
  • Choose goals that are appropriate to your ultimate aims. Your career goals should be relevant to one another. If they aren’t, then you may need to narrow your focus. Your goals should match the type of job that you want and the quality of life that you want to lead.
  • Be clear about your goals with potential employers. Always be honest with potential employers about what you want to do with your life. If your goals differ from the company’s objectives, find a way bridge the gap between what you want for yourself and what your employer expects.

By doing goal-setting work now, you’ll be able to make conscious choices on your career path. You can always adjust your plan if things change for you, but the key is to give yourself a road map for success.

More Tips About Setting Work Goals

Featured photo credit: Tyler Franta via unsplash.com

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