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Personal Branding like a Pro

Posted on 15 November 2023

Personal Branding like a Pro

6-minute read

We all can instantly recognise certain iconic brands like Coca-Cola, Pepsi, Ford, and more. These brands have woven themselves into our daily lives, even if we choose not to consume their products. In recent years, with the rise of 'influencers' such as the Kardashians, Mr. Beast, and the Paul brothers, we find that even if we don't follow their content, we likely know who they are. They, too, have established their own brand identities, much like product companies.

In the context of what we will explore in this article, you can certainly aspire to create a personal brand as prominent as these, but you don't have to. You can craft your unique brand within a specific niche, which can open doors to better opportunities and simplify your job search throughout your career.

To delve into the topic of personal branding, we've enlisted the expertise of Magda Uribe, a former Director of People who transitioned into a Solopreneur, and Stuart Edwards, the Head of Talent at FFW, as well as a Solopreneur. With their guidance, we'll define what personal branding means in the context of your career, explain why it's an area worth your attention, and provide actionable steps to kickstart your personal branding journey. We also understand that not everyone is comfortable putting themselves out there, so we'll offer advice for those who may be more introverted but still intrigued by this topic.

 

What do we mean by Personal Brand?

Personal branding centres around the individual – it's about how you present yourself, promote your unique qualities, and articulate your value proposition, as highlighted by Magda. It doesn't demand that you become a conference speaker, community leader, or influencer, as mentioned by Stuart. Instead, personal branding is about strategically defining your role within your niche, enabling others to gain a comprehensive perspective of your identity. This encompasses your online profiles, the impact of your posts, your life experiences, your aspirations, and more. All of this contributes to providing those in your sphere with a profound insight into who you are as an individual.

 

Why should we take note of it?

In today's job market, having a personal brand isn't an absolute requirement, but it can significantly enhance your chances and streamline the application process, truth be told companies like brand advocates and if you are able to do it for yourself, then they will see this as a strong positive that you might be able to do it for them and expand their reach.

As talent acquisition professionals our role is to sift through applicants to identify the most suitable candidates for specific job openings. As previously mentioned by Stuart, personal branding can be as simple as maintaining comprehensive online portfolios, which aid us in directing you toward the hiring process and advocating for your candidacy. The more content you create and share within these profiles, the better equipped we are to champion you on your behalf.

Should you choose to delve deeper into the topic of personal branding, as Magda alluded to, you may embark on a journey of self-discovery. The act of crafting, sharing, and subjecting your work to public scrutiny can lead to personal growth and help you clarify your desired image within your field.

Although opportunities may not materialise immediately, building a recognisable name and body of work will eventually open doors. It's important to note that developing your personal brand should not be a one-time endeavour; instead, it's an ongoing journey that you'll fine-tune over time, even when you're not actively job hunting.

Consistency is crucial, but where should you begin?

 

Steps to take today

In the age of numerous social platforms and an abundance of advice on rapid network growth and branding, the sheer volume of information can lead to a paralysing sense of overwhelm, leaving you unsure of where to even begin.

Magda suggests taking a step back and pausing to contemplate your goals for this journey. Before diving into action, take the time to clarify and document your personal objectives, what you can offer and what you can uniquely bring to the market.

By having these aspects clearly defined, you not only position yourself to create more meaningful, long-lasting content, as Stuart points out, but you also avoid the futility of posting for the sake of posting. This clarity enables you to foster deeper connections with your audience, ultimately making it easier to establish and expand your presence.

Magda emphasises that once you've established your goals, offerings, and unique attributes, it's important to assess which platforms are most conducive to your mission. Seek out communities where your contributions are likely to be well-received. While this might not be immediately apparent, experimenting and learning from experience will help you focus your efforts on a select few platforms rather than spreading yourself too thinly across all of them.

  • GitHub / Stackoverflow – Tech

  • Dribble / Behance – Design

  • LinkedIn / Xing / Twitter

  • Personal website

  • Medium / Blogging platforms

Once you've identified the optimal platforms for sharing your content, the next step is to carefully consider the value you bring to the table. It's not just about what you can provide but, more precisely, how you intend to deliver it.

Stuart suggests that you should define a central niche, which will grant you greater long-term influence in a specific domain within your field. This doesn't require you to neglect the broader context; for example, if your field is "Frontend," and you have a particular passion for "Vue," dive deeper into that community and cultivate your brand within it.

 

As Magda elaborates, the key is to be purposeful about your personal brand. Your personal brand is an extension of yourself and something that deserves your attention, particularly because it allows you to shape a new reality. Explore various options that best showcase your skills, experiment, assess, adapt, and never cease striving for improvement.

A few ways to get you thinking:

Write a consistent blog – this could be about your journey (great for juniors), your skills in general (excellent when looking for a new job), the industry you are in, the technology landscape at large… pretty much anything you can think of, you can write about it.

Videos – lean into YouTube to create comprehensive tutorials or to voice your knowledge on camera. Utilise TikTok, Instagram and other video platforms to reach new audiences.

Podcast – sit down with guests to spar ideas or by yourself to bring the audience up to speed, you can also video these at the same time to create content for other platforms widening your scope.

You can also explore conferences through volunteering, attending or even speaking. You might want to support a local group within your niche and expand your brand more in-person.

Make certain that each of these activities aligns with your overarching goal and contributes to the personal brand you are striving to build for yourself.

However, there's an aspect worth noting, as Magda explained: Avoid the trap of solely crafting a brand when you're in the midst of a job search. I would like to echo this sentiment, as I've observed many instances where blogs suddenly reawaken, only to fall dormant for three years until the next job hunt or a couple of videos are uploaded, only to return to radio silence afterward.

Life unfolds, and fluctuations are natural. Strive for consistency by preparing a bank of content. This way, during periods when time or inspiration is scarce, you have a reservoir of material at your disposal.

Ensure that each activity correlates to your goal and supports the brand you want to create for yourself.

 

Allow me to illustrate this concept through my personal journey. I grappled with a lack of clarity regarding my personal branding goals for a significant period. However, I've now honed in on three core areas of focus: empowering job seekers (as exemplified through this blog), empowering talent teams (via my podcast accessible at https://spotifyanchor-web.app.link/e/lES1jQUaWDb), and promoting awareness about Green/Clean Tech (through my LinkedIn posts). These central themes grant me the flexibility to create content while remaining grounded in subjects I both possess knowledge about and a genuine passion to learn more about.

Since I began concentrating on these areas, my network on LinkedIn has surged from approximately 10,000 to over 22,000 followers, and the blogs I produce, including the one you're currently reading, have garnered a readership of around 20,000 individuals in just 18 months. These figures signify not only a broad reach but also the creation of fresh connections, opportunities, and partnerships that have materialised thanks to my consistent presence and focused approach.

Advice for the more introverted among us

What if you're not particularly confident about sharing your work but still wish to cultivate a personal brand? As Stuart shared the simplest approach to start and feel at ease is to leverage your strengths. If you're an expert in a specific field, engage with content related to it, offer your insights, and operate within that domain. You don't always have to generate content from scratch to establish your brand. Repurposing existing content and infusing it with your unique perspective can be a helpful way to kickstart the process until you're prepared to take it to the next level.

 

Magda added that when you're ready to create your own content, remember that it doesn't have to be flawless, whether it's an article, video, or podcast. Strive to make it the best you can for the present moment, knowing that improvement and the acquisition of new skills will occur over time. Having a presence is more important than pursuing perfection, and who even said that everything you create needs to be flawless?

 

The internet is constantly evolving at a rapid pace. Generative AI has further accelerated this transformation, particularly in the realm of user-generated content. At times, it can seem as though without establishing a meaningful "presence," you might be missing out. While a personal brand won't guarantee you a job, it will undoubtedly expand your opportunities.

 

Nevertheless, we cannot emphasise enough that embarking on a personal branding journey is no walk in the park. It demands time, tests your dedication, and exposes both you and your work to open evaluation. This isn't meant to deter you but to convey the truth. If you only start sharing when you're actively seeking employment, you'll merely scratch the surface of what a personal brand can offer. Instead, approach this journey with intention, define your offer, understand your unique value, and adopt a distinct and unique approach.

 

Thank you to our two brilliant guests in supporting this article and if you believe there is something in here for a friend, feel free to share it with them so we can all collectively bring simplicity to the chaos of recruitment.

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