"Your brand is what other people say about you when you are not in the room." -- Jeff Bezos, CEO & Founder of Amazon.
It is one of my all-time favourite quotes and also my everyday guiding principle at work. Research from the Center For Talent Innovation shows that cultivating your personal brand is one of the best ways to attract a sponsor and professionals with a sponsor are 23% more likely to be promoted.
It doesn't matter whether you have just started your career, or you are a veteran, I believe there is only one way you can thrive and be constantly motivated in your work life: work for yourself.
I don't mean freelancing or self-employment; on the contrary, especially when working in a bigger organisation, you are exposed to wider networks and equipped with ample resources to make those hours in the office count for something for your career advancement.
What is Personal Branding?
Your personal brand is what you build around you to single yourself out from a crowd; it is what people remember you by. Of course, it can be something you are good at, but in order to have an authentic and unique voice, it needs to be something you are also passionate about and are inspired to carry on with perseverance.
If you are still unclear, close your eyes and imagine what you want your colleagues, friends and professional network to say about you when you are not around.
It can be as formal as "She is excellent at making the right decisions when under stress"; or as personal as "He's always filled with energy; crazy ideas and dreams". Personal branding does not have to be dry, or boring. In fact, the more quirky you are, the easier it is for you to stand out.
Why is Personal Branding important?
If you google "Why Personal Branding Is Important", experts will tell you that because "people trust people more than brands" or "it helps with business" etc. But again, I don't want to just focus on the benefits to the organisation you are representing; I want to focus on why it is important for you, as an individual. Here are a few reasons why:
Nobody says you better than you
As #employeebranding becomes one of the latest trends, you may not have full control of the narrative. Think about those brochures you receive from universities - the diverse, all smiling and content students in all shapes and sizes. And this happens in the workplace too. But, by building your personal brand, well… personally, you get to control your narrative and who you are publically.
My advice is to stay cautious: if you start complaining or bad-mouthing your competitors, your ex- or current employers or your coworkers, you will bear the fruits of negativity, destructive attitude and untrustworthiness. So be sure to build your personal branding by offering positivity, trust, solutions and change. Be authentic, because people will find out who you truly are one way or the other, and it keeps you running your career marathon.
Showcase Your Passion And Capability Better Than A CV
Better show them than to tell them! If you are diligent with writing blog posts which offer insights connecting and networking with people online and offline, you will have a solid reputation online without having to have a CV. It is a better demonstration of your capability.
Best Exercise To Build Confidence And Network
If you have just started your career, you may feel intimidated to share or comment on things because you do not want to sound stupid. You think you have nothing to offer and hence keep your silence.
"So keeping silence is going to help you change that?"
You have just started your first job? Great, offer advice and share your journey with someone who is still in university!
You haven't graduated from Uni just yet? Share your insights into the life adjustment being a university student.
You have been working for a few years but haven't had the chance to climb the ladder, share your struggle, reach out and discuss with people who have been through that.
You are full of merits and insights if you try hard to think about it. The more you communicate honestly and build a network around you, the more confident you will be of what you know and you will be at ease with things you don't. You will soon realise: everyone has a place and a role to play, from beginner to master.
No Better Way To Cultivate Your Passion
Your brand does not always have to be work-related; it can be your hobby or side-gig, or a mixture of both. By building content, sharing information and knowledge on topics that you are passionate about, you will be motivated to do it continuously and regularly. It will be fun and you will be stimulated to do it.
A successful personal brand leaves a long-lasting impression that can only add value to your career. It should be something you are passionate about and what you stand for. It gives you a chance to control your narrative, showcase your skills, improve communication and it should be fun!
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