Branding is hardly a new buzzword in the business world,
A brand can be anything from a symbol, logo, title or sound, provided it’s unique and differentiates one thing from another. These days, any business worth its proverbial salt understands the importance of branding on a company level. Most businesses have put considerable time, money and consideration into their name, logo, web and social media presence.
But personal branding has become, arguably, just as important as company branding. After all, what is a company if not a collection of people who staff and run it? Businesses work with each other, certainly, but it’s the people who work together that adds value to the business relationship.
If, for example, your goal is to grow your company’s sales, it’s incredibly helpful if prospective clients associate your personal brand with things like trust, satisfaction and success. If you’re seeking a better job, then it’s important for your potential boss to connect your own personal brand with something he or she is looking to add to their team.
Think of your personal brand as the face that you show the world. You want your brand to be strong, professional and polished (but not too polished). When people begin to get a sense of who you are and start to recognize your expertise in a certain area, you’ve taken your first steps on the path to being a thought leader in your industry.
So how important is personal branding, really? Can’t most folks who work for a reputable company just get by on their firm’s reputation?
Consider social media. Everyone knows how important it is for a business to have a well-thought-out social media presence and a strong, cohesive strategy. But a recent study found that social media messages shared by employees get 561% more reach than those same messages spread by the brand’s official social media channels. Employees also average about 10 times as many followers as official company accounts, and the content shared by those workers gets about eight times more engagement compared to content shared by official social media channels. There’s far more value, then, in employees promoting a business and its initiatives than posts or tweets from the official company account.
Networking is also key, particularly two-way networking. This means focusing as much, if not more, on what the other person gets out of your networking relationship, as you do. Too often people see networking as just a way to get what they want for themselves (gaining knowledge, furthering their own career, etc.) and ignoring the other person. By ensuring that the other person benefits from your relationship, you’ll land more connections, more opportunities and improve your reputation in your industry, all of which contribute positively to your personal brand.
Personal branding can establish you as a thought leader in your field. As you develop contacts through networking, social media and other avenues, you will build your reputation as a go-to person in your industry (or your niche within that industry). As your brand grows and improves, you’ll find that your standards and expectations will rise; thinking outside the box will become a habit, and the current state of affairs will seem almost unbearable. It’s truly the entrepreneur’s mindset – never being content with the status quo.
You also can’t be afraid of letting your real personality show. Your personal brand is just that: personal. It’s your brand, so allow yourself to show your non-work side as well. Feel free to post photos and updates about your hobbies, where you like to eat, how you spend your weekends, things that show that there’s a real, live human being behind that social media account. If you exclusively use your social media as a marketing channel, you’ll risk coming off as a robot, or worse, a company shill, which pushes people away. Don’t be afraid to be yourself.
There are many great things you can do to develop your personal brand – take as many speaking engagements as you can, write thought leadership articles online and in print, post videos of tutorials and tips, give as many interviews as you have time for – and all of them can work for you. Perception is reality, and if you’re perceived to be a thought leader in your industry, and people believe it, then you are one. It’s as simple – and as complicated – as that.
Want to learn more about the importance of personal branding? The Edge is holding a Leadership Summit on November 9 in Toronto, featuring award-winning speakers, a dinner, giveaways and more. For more information, visit theedgeleaders.com/events or call (416) 773-1077.
Justin Anderson | The Edge Leaders