Just as companies don’t leave their reputation to chance, developing your personal brand actively can help secure your next role, achieve your goals or simply make you more content.
So says personal brand strategist Jacqui Malpass, who spoke at the recent CGMA European Conference about the importance of becoming CEO of your own life, business and career. Your personal brand is ultimately what people say about you when you’re not in the room and encompasses the value and experiences you deliver to others.
The first step to deciding on your direction is to explore this question: If people have an experience of you, what would you like them to think, see, feel and know?
Then ask a trusted colleague or family member to help you conduct a gap analysis between your self-image and how others perceive you.
Next, ask yourself:
- What is your competitive advantage?
- What is it that is sustainable and unique about you that can’t be copied?
- What do you do differently that marks you out from others?
- How do you provide value?
- What are you known for? What do you want to be known for in a couple of years’ time?
The answers to these questions provide the foundations of your brand.
The next step is to define your core values: What are you passionate about? What really drives you? Establishing these things will help work out your purpose.
Malpass recommends, at this point, drawing a metaphorical line in the sand and leaving behind anything you don’t want to take forward into your future. Instead, gather up and recognise all the knowledge, skills and experience you have acquired, as well as your passions, and things that have worked well in the past.
Once you have defined your personal brand, ask yourself what are the next steps that can help you get where you want to go. What else can you take on that would demonstrate all of your skills and accelerate your career? For example, Malpass is a leader of a women’s networking organisation that puts her in front of a growing number of people. In addition, she has created a platform for herself through several websites and an active blogging strategy, as well as writing online courses and sharing her knowledge in virtual communities such as Twitter. Another option would be sharing your voice on your company platform. Find what works for you.
Now that you have defined who you are, what you do and how you deliver it, create a strategy and make it a living, breathing thing. The most important point is to make sure you take some steps towards it every day.
—Samantha White (email@example.com) is a CGMA Magazine senior editor.
Managing your brand online
Do you know what is being said about you online? What would you find if you did a Google search of yourself? What would you like to find? A strategy for success involves making sure that what is out there reflects the image you want to show the world.
LinkedIn is a particularly useful tool. A professionally taken profile picture helps create the right impression. Leverage your existing community of contacts by requesting relevant testimonials.
Be purposeful when you connect with other people. Initiate a relationship with potential contacts by sending a message to say, “I would really love to have a conversation with you.”