I cannot think of a better professional compliment than to be approached to be someone’s mentor and/or coach.  This is something I have had the privilege of doing throughout my career and currently I have the honour to coach and mentor several people on the career paths/opportunities they are seeking.  One of the areas I often cover during these sessions is ‘what is the added value you bring’ and what is your personal brand?’

I never set out to create my own personal brand.  To be honest, for many years I wasn’t even sure what ‘branding’ meant. 

It was essential to me that throughout both careers (Army and Social Care) how I was perceived, especially when I was not in the room, was favourable.    My image and reputation are important to me both at work and at home. 

So, what is a Personal Brand?

Jeff Bezos – CEO Amazon

Brands are intangible – you can’t actually touch or see them.  A personal brand is the widely recognised perception of an individual. The impression that others have of you as a person  can be made up of their experiences with you in day-to-day life and or how others see you, including the information about you which is available e.g., online. Your personal brand comprises a combination of your professional and personal experiences

The importance of a ‘Personal Brand’:

  • They help shape people’s perceptions of you as an individual – make sure it is a positive one.
  • Creating a personal brand can be beneficial for both your personal life and career progression. 
  • It will distinguish you from other people – especially important when you are going for an interview for that important position.
  • People will know what they can expect from you, which will build trust.
  • It will help make you memorable.  We all remember our role models.

10  tips on building a Personal Brand:

  1. What do you want to be known for?  For me it has always been the same, I want to be thought of as: experienced, knowledgeable, an expert in the role I am currently fulfilling, super fit (an important one for my Army career) and someone who is a student of leadership.   So, ask yourself what is unique about you?
  2. Talk about your interests.  Build your personal brand around the things that interest you.  Your brand needs to be a true reflection of your interests and lifestyle, then it’s much easier to build and maintain over time. Holding conversations and creating content about the things you already enjoy is much simpler than trying to chase an audience you believe to be more lucrative.
  3. What is your vision – where do you want to get to?  How does it fit with your personal and work goals?  Then tell those around you  what it is.
  4. Live and breathe your brand.  Don’t try to be something you’re not – be authentic like Bettina:  Being Bettina’s Dad: Be your authentic self – Leadership in the Raw
  5. Market yourself.   What have you done today to let the world (or at least your colleagues and customers) know that you are uniquely contributing?  Think about the best ways to advertise your message e.g., social media platforms.  Once you have done that, start telling your story. 
  6. Don’t rest on your laurels, continue to add to your personal brand.  By keeping curious e.g., looking for the gaps in your organisation’s business objectives and or the things you think will help those around you in your personal life.  “What can I do to fill those gaps?”
  7. Learn from others.  I have been super lucky to have worked with inspirational people in both my careers and I have picked up tips from their personal brands.  One of whom I served with and is also a friend, David Sandell:  Charisma isn’t always enough – Leadership in the Raw   I was lucky enough to share a ‘billet’ with David during a posting at NATO Headquarters.  It was a career masterclass in personal branding.  Thanks David.
  8. Don’t do things half-heartedly – totally commit to whatever you do – as they say in the Army ‘be the best’ you can be every day.
  9. If people like you they will listen to you, but if they trust you, they’ll do business with you. -Zig Ziglar
  10. Connect – Remember to show people exactly what they get if they invest in you. 

Finally – Being Helpful

Be helpful in the same way that you may seek advice from your peers while developing your brand. Be sure to seek out opportunities to help others when you can as it’s a great way to connect with those in your industry.

Being helpful is an important element for any personal brand. By sharing your knowledge, experience, or time with others, you offer value to your network and community. Establishing a reputation as someone who is helpful improves your personal brand image and creates opportunities to connect with your clients and potential employers.

(Bettina & Jennifer on Woolacombe Beach North Devon)

The Personal Brand you have chosen is something you have to live up to everyday, it is something I need to do for my daughters.