MARKETING • CREATIVE • DIGITAL
How to Take Control of Your Personal Brand
By Katherine Konrad, an experienced marketing professional and recent Celarity contractor
My friend: “No pressure.”
Friend: “No pressure. On your first day tomorrow.”
Me: “Wait. But, what do you mean exactly?”
Friend: “You’re just going to be making a first impression on a lot of people who could have a big impact on the direction of your career. But, no pressure …”
… If I didn’t already have the first-day-of-a-new-job jitters, I certainly did now after this short exchange with (I think) a well-intentioned friend. Though the message could have been delivered a bit more softly, he wasn’t wrong. It only takes a few seconds after an introduction for someone to decide who they think you are.
So, you don’t want your own, personal brand? Too late, you already have one. Your brand is in the speed at which you walk, or talk; the grip of your handshake; your eye contact (or lack thereof). Your brand is portrayed through your contributions in meetings; in your water cooler conversation topics. It’s your LinkedIn headshot and your Instagram feed; it’s your Facebook timeline, and the articles you share.
According to a 2018 CareerBuilder survey, over two-thirds of employers use social media to screen candidates. And, 43% of employers use it to check on current employees. Whether you like it or not, you’re unintentionally curating a story available to the professional world. From here, you have two options – you can let others define you, or you can take control.
You’re unique – just like everyone else.
I say that to be tongue-in-cheek, but also to drive the importance of developing a strong personal brand. There are a lot of people out there who have the same skill set or maybe a better skill set – on paper. But nowadays, a lot of weight is given to characteristics outside of a resume; which is why it’s imperative to let the positive aspects of your personality shine.
Pick a couple of characteristics about yourself that people you admire have acknowledged and focus on developing these. Maybe you have a cheerful disposition, or maybe you’re level headed in a time of crisis. Identify what you’re good at and invest your time and energy into improving and putting those qualities on display.
Pick a lane
Maybe you’re a really good writer who creates content about grammar in a bite-sized, approachable way; but you can also write code for a killer UX experience. And, on top of that, you’re a nerd for numbers and can balance a checkbook like nobody’s business.
If you are all those things, then – wow – you won the genetic lottery. And maybe just pick one thing for our sake and for the sake of your personal brand’s integrity. It’s essential to have a clear and concise message across all platforms so your audience ‘gets’ who you are. The more unique messages and lanes you try to convey, the more diluted your message, and the more apathetic your audience becomes.
Now that you’ve picked the ‘right’ lane, make sure you’re actively singing this tune consistently across all platforms. Establish yourself as a thought leader in your area by writing or sharing relevant articles on LinkedIn. Speak up in meetings with thoughtful contributions related to your expertise. Position yourself as the office subject matter expert. You may know all there is to know about UX design. But, nobody will know about it unless you tell (or show) them.
Showcase your authenticity
Influencer marketing became a thing because people didn’t want to be ‘sold’ something. They wanted to be the first to hear about something new, cool, or useful by someone they admired and whose opinion they trusted. You can be unique, and be practically screaming a clear and consistent message. But, if you’re not being honest and transparent about who you are, people will know: they won’t ‘swipe up’ to buy the brand you’re selling.
Feed the gains
The act of investing time and energy in your own, personal brand will not only help establish connections, new clients, new opportunities, and like-minded industry leaders – you will also notice a bump in your own self-esteem and realize your potential. By focusing on what’s positive and being your authentic self, the world around you will return the positive energy and momentum in a cyclical fashion.
Katherine is a marketing professional by day and a content creator by night. She enjoys summers in Minnesota, and anywhere else in the winter. When she’s not writing you can find her exploring new neighborhood hangouts; dressed up at a social event; jogging around Minneapolis lakes; or staring at her phone.