Anthem Consulting: How to build your personal brand

Have you noticed the way that some people effortlessly seem to be able to climb the career ladder?  Those for whom success seems to come to more easily than others.  Of course they work hard, and they’re good at what they do.  But ultimately, “people buy from people”. So what is this intangible “thing” that they have?  Knowingly or not, they have a personal brand that people are engaged with. 

Having a strong and positive personal brand will make you stand out from your peers.  By identifying what your USPs are, you can use your strengths to progress your career.  Doing this alongside performing well will get you noticed for all the right reasons!

Once you have this knowledge, lay out a plan of how you can maximise on these key attributes that already people recognise as your strengths.  The key to defining a brand that sticks is to ensure that your messaging and behaviour are consistent.

Where do you begin?

The starting point should be to know what your current brand identity is.  This may be something you already know from your last appraisal, but if not, ask a few trusted colleagues what words come to mind when they think of you.  Try to include your manager and perhaps a partner or two.  This might seem scary, but everyone has to start somewhere and it might give you a really nice confidence boost!

Once you have this as a starting point, pick two or three attributes that you want to grow your personal brand around. Also think about attributes that resonate with your values.  Positive attributes could be any of the following:

  • Getting things done and meeting deadlines;
  • Positive, can do attitude and fun to work with;
  • Creative thinker who comes up with innovative ideas and follows them through;
  • In-depth market knowledge. A real expert in your field;
  • A strong manager or mentor who is good at developing those beneath them;
  • Has the gravitas to command the respect of partners. Influences their thinking.

Tools to develop your personal brand

So you’ve worked out what your brand stands you, now it’s time to incorporate it into your day-to-day job and communicate it internally and externally to the right audience:

  • Do your job well:  make sure that you are doing a good job, otherwise your brand has no substance!  So, if proactivity is one of the elements of your personal brand, make sure that when you volunteer for a project, you actually see it through, otherwise all you’ll get noticed for is not delivering!
  • Find platforms to showcase your brand:  once you’ve identified your brand, find various platforms to showcase it.  If your brand is about communication or leadership, ask to present at team meetings, volunteer to speak at events such as industry conferences etc.  Get involved in projects where you’ll get the chance to impress people outside your current stakeholder group.
  • Network your brand across the organisation: don’t focus only on building your brand in your own team, it’s important to network across your organisation and ensure you have cross-functional “clout” as well.  Raise your brand profile by building relationships with people in finance, HR, IT as well as partners in different sector or practice groups where appropriate.
  • Create brand supporters: one way to get your brand noticed is to build relationships at all levels of the firm, including your peers and juniors. Try helping out a junior member of the team struggling with a particular task, or offer to relieve an overwhelmed colleague with some of their projects. This way, you create evangelists across all levels.
  • Promote yourself - and others! Like most people, you may feel awkward “tooting your own horn”.  The trick is to do it in a manner that also credits other people’s contributions. That way, it’s not just about you! For example: “It was really amazing winning the employee of the year award, but this was made possible because of the supportive team in my department and our manager who always pushes us to do our best.”
  • External branding tools: make use of external online tools to enhance your personal branding efforts. This could include having a blog or a great LinkedIn profile.  When doing this, it’s worth remembering the following:
    • Use a profile picture and make sure it’s professional;
    • Make sure that the content is up to date and accurate;
    • Try incorporating attachments or links to examples of your work if you’re in a more creative role, or articles if you want to showcase your written skills;
    • Ask your strongest advocates to write a recommendation on LinkedIn, and don’t be afraid to be specific about what you’d like them to say. Ask them to write about how you work or handled a difficult project rather than generic comments about how they enjoy working with you.

And, of course, your personal brand is what will also set you up to perform really well when you come to look for a new job.  Aside from having great internal advocates who you know will provide you with great references, you’ll have a really strong grip on your strengths and achievements to promote yourself to potential new employers.  Think about how your personal brand throughout your job search:

  • Your next role: your personal brand can help you identify the companies and roles that are right for you.  Knowing what your strengths are and developing a personal brand around them will help you narrow down the opportunities that will develop you further.  So, for example if team leadership is one of your biggest strengths, then focus on the roles where you will be able to manage or grow a team. 
  • Your CV: make sure it reflects your brand by using case studies that really showcase your best attributes.
  • At interview: when you know what your personal brand is, you’ll able to answer any questions about what your strengths are effortlessly!  Whether your personal brand is about your ability to be creative, influence difficult stakeholders or manage complex, largescale projects, remember to use examples that really reflect your best attributes. It’s also important to ask the right questions to find out if the firm values align to your personal brand and that the role plays to your strengths.

Hopefully these tips, should give you the confidence to start building your own personal brand.  

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