Why Everyone, Not Just Job Seekers, Should Build a Personal Brand

We hear a lot about the importance of personal branding for job seekers, but does the job of building your brand end when your real job begins? Paul Copcutt, a globally recognized personal brand expert, dives deep into this issue in today’s career Q&A.

Building Your Personal Brand

What are the main components of a personal brand?

Broadly you can view the main components as three – understanding YOU:

Y = What you Believe – what you stand for, your values, the moral compass that drives you. What is your vision, what do you want to see happen and what is your purpose in making that a reality. Being, what is the style of your personality. How you Behave — how you interact with others.

O = How do you operate? What are your key strengths and skills, what do you think they are, what do others think they are? What are your statements of intent, your mantras that direct and determine your brand?

U = How are you unique? What are your passions and how can these be more a part of your life, especially being able to include them in what you do for work. How is your brand packaged? And what are you doing to communicate and promote that brand to the right people?

We often hear about building your personal brand when you’re looking for a job. Why is it important to continue building your brand once you’re employed?

I always say “You can no longer rely on others to help manage your career, it’s up to you to own the definition of who you are” (« Tweet This) Career decisions are no longer made centrally in organizations but often by a variety of people dispersed possibly across multiple locations, even countries of continents. Getting involved in the next great project or gaining that promotion involves your being sure the people making those decisions hear about you. Many companies are using their own internal social media networks, white label versions of Facebook or LinkedIn if you like, and searching those profiles for the right person to bring into that project or to promote. You want to be sure that your profile truly represents your brand.

How can employees go about building and maintaining a desirable personal brand?

Personal Branding: Telling Your StoryClearly identify the areas that you want to be known for or are interested in. Start to build networks of people who influence those areas. It’s no longer enough that you and a few close colleagues know that you are good at what you do. Others, beyond your immediate circle, need to know it too. Two of the most critical factors in a strong personal brand are visibility and credibility, and they both have to be present to have a brand that people recognize and respect.

So what are the challenges that face your company or department right now? Is there something that your company desperately needs but does not have the capacity or resources to take on right now? Can you become the champion for this?

As you start to build your knowledge and expertise look to offer a presentation on the subject to inform your department. Then look to spread the message to other departments and, before you know it, you become the company-wide expert in it.

Also do not miss the opportunity to let others outside the company know what you are doing (keeping in mind proprietary information) – but look to associations and professional organizations and conferences to get recognized. That way you are building the company brand and reputation as well as your own externally – but in a very positive way.

Should organizations assist in this process? What challenges might there be?

All companies should hire a personal brand expert to train their employees!! But seriously in most of the work I am doing inside Fortune 500 companies this is exactly what I am doing, increasing the awareness and importance of personal branding and taking action. Companies now use this as an employee engagement and retention investment.

One of the major challenges for a manager is seeing the value in letting their team work on personal brands and not expecting the employees to be dusting off their resume and seeing what the competition is offering, or even leaving the company.

For the employee the challenge is that you feel if you start to take some action in raising your visibility, your colleagues will see it as sign that you are unhappy and are starting to put out ‘the feelers’ to find a new role in the company or getting out – then you get overlooked for cool projects.

The water-cooler talk starts and rumors fly and, before you know it, you are sitting in front of your boss trying to convince them that you are perfectly happy and you are not looking to leave and that you do respect them.

Personal branding in the workplace is built around being authentic and from a strong foundation of building on unique strengths and skills. It is a natural fit for the employee that wants control over the direction of their career, but still stays true to what they believe and stand for and encourages them to be themselves. In many cases this is the first opportunity to design what their work should look like and employees that go through the personal branding process recognize and appreciate the investment in their future that their employer is making – it’s not just another training session, but something that provides them with a concrete career plan that can be followed and that they were responsible for creating – the ownership and accountability is the employees’.

(Related: How to Attract & Maintain Top Talent With Career Mapping)

Is there anything else you would like to say about this topic?

Corporations that have embraced the concept fully now take it to the next level and incorporate the personal branding review as part of any other annual review process, and even drill down to quarterly ‘check-ins’. Others have even taken the branding approach to the team stage and looked at creating team brands and messages that can be understood internally, helping everyone to appreciate each other’s part in the company’s success.

Bottom line is that in an increasingly competitive global market for talent, salary increases, and improved benefits are short-term fixes that get forgotten, or worse, still taken for granted – there is always another company out there that can pay a little more. Personal branding provides a much more permanent benefit that can be tied to both corporate goals and individual objectives whilst ensuring that there is less interest or inclination when the competition next comes knocking.

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About the Expert

Known by his clients as The Career Hacker, Paul Copcutt was described by Forbes magazine as a leading personal brand expert globally. He has exceptional skills in quickly distilling what he sees and hears in to custom solutions that are effective. He helps people uncover their uniqueness and communicate it in an authentic way that appeals to those they are trying to influence and gets them noticed and remembered, for the right reasons. Over the years he has inspired and worked with thousands of people from entrepreneurs to Fortune 500 executives and regularly speaks to business audiences across North America with the latest information, personal examples and practical actions.

You can see more from Paul at www.squarepegsolution.com and can connect with him on LinkedIn.

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Rachel Dotson is a former digital marketing manager and former blog contributor at ZipRecruiter. She is based in Venice, California.

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