In 1997 Tom Peter in his article for the ‘Fast Company Magazine’ coined the term ‘Personal Brand’. In his article, he wrote,
“We are the CEOs of our own companies: Me Inc.”
Earlier, the term ‘brand’ was connected with a company’s name – it’s logo and the quality of its products. The term ‘personal branding’ used to be initially confined to celebrities as a means of marketing them. However, the advent of social media platforms has made every individual conscious of creating a ‘brand’ of his/her own.
Our lifestyle and social/physical attributes define our personality – from the clothes you wear, to your leisure activities, to the music you listen to – everything defines the brand called ‘You’. For example we usually associate a social-activist’s style of dressing with eco-friendly clothes, bags and slippers. This therefore gives an identity to their profession or to what they believe in.
The objective of building a brand-image for themselves could essentially be for two reasons
(i) to merely satisfy one’s ego
(ii) to get recognised professionally
Millennials want to be different and hence like to get noticed from the rest. They believe that having an identity of their own can lead to their goals faster. Creating a personal brand is a way to convey inexplicitly what you are and what you believe in and companies like to employ people whose characteristics are transparent.
The ‘brand’ that you create about yourself is the perception that others have about you. During an interview process, the interviewer judges your personality traits from the way you speak, dress and behave. Since the brand of the employees eventually defines the brand of the company, it is important to employ staff who are friendly, attentive and knowledgeable about their work. For example: the reputation of a hotel is largely depended on the friendliness and attitudes of its staff.
According to Jayson Demers, Founder and CEO of AudienceBloom, “whether you use your personal brand to consult, freelance, or drive more traffic and trust to your company, it's vitally important to establish one to stay competitive”.
1. Social Media presence: ensure that you are present on all the prominent social networking websites with fully furbished profiles. Linkedin, Facebook and Twitter sites are the most widely used platforms to find out about job postings and job trends. The information you share here about yourself largely influences the decision of recruiters and prospective business partners. Ensure that you also share the details of your interests/passions as they can be an added value, for e.g. a photography enthusiast should have an online album to showcase his clicks.
2. Networking: Having an online presence should be followed by consistently building and maintaining relationships with people from your industry as well as other diverse fields. For this ensure that you choose the right networking platform. If you wish to connect with your school/college alumni, networking platforms like Fourth Ambit serves valuable.
3. Establish your unique identity: Make others know what distinguishes you from the rest of the pack. It could be anything ranging from ‘being well articulated’ to ‘being very punctual’ to even ‘being well presentable’. This can be achieved by displaying this attribute at all possible interactions you have with people.
4. Purchase Your Own Domain Name: Purchasing your own domain name (FirstNameLastName.Com) is a smart way of building your personal brand. This gives a control over what information people would see about you while searching online.
5. Be a learner: Keep reading and participating in discussions and forums that come under your area of knowledge and expertise. This could also include maintaining a blog of your own.
In his article, Peter Economy - The Leadership Guy on Inc.com, has mentioned about two categories of people that you should not be:
(a) some people are too good at the art of self-promotion that they usually over-do it, often being categorized as ‘braggarts or jerks’
(b) some other people whose presence is like a Wallpaper – quietly performing their job with the hope that someone would be noticing how well they perform.
Ensure that the path you take is in between these two categories, i.e. get noticed without being arrogant!
Your task doesn’t end with just building your personal brand. Like any other commodity brand, even your personal brand needs to be re-invented and strengthened for the threat of competitors. In this case the competitors are your other job-seekers and experts in your areas of expertise. Your personal brand is an investment that will fetch you returns if maintained appropriately.