Why are people still buzzing about personal branding in 2020? The reality is, you’re already selling something that exists.
Personal branding continues to trend, because differentiating yourself in this already saturated market is an almost sure-fire way to bring about career success.
One of the first secret weapons my clients learn to master is understanding the importance of a personal brand. Basically, it comes down to what you want to be known for.
If people are conversing about your brand, you want it to be simple, accurate and good. Think: “He’s a thought leader”; “they’re a self-made entrepreneur” or “She is all about precision marketing”.
Forbes contributor Caroline Castrillon (who is committed to writing about entrepreneurship and women’s advancements) stated that the average person currently switches jobs – or even industries – every two or three years. And, this year already, up to 43% of workers in the US work for themselves, as contractors or freelance supply staff.
Permanent staff is pricey, what with their requirements in terms of leave and benefits, so increasingly you’ll need to stand out from the crowd in order to be hired for that short-term contract or long-term freelance retainer. This phenomenon is called the ‘gig economy’, where your personal branding clout on social media
, has a 70% chance of being the ticket that secures you the gig.
Still need some convincing about the importance of personal branding?
Where first impressions are concerned, having a personal brand will allow you to rise above your competitors, whom you may have been vying with for quite some time.
Assuming you know your stuff and have amazing knowledge to share, personal branding will also allow you to build trust among potential clients and the industry at large. So, make sure your branding puts you on an award-winning pedestal.
This may seem really obvious, but you’d be surprised at how many people I work with or notice on social media whose headshots on LinkedIn and/or Twitter are completely blank. That blue box or egg on your profile is not doing you any favours. Additionally, it is important to update your bio or profile regularly, as your work situation or personal interests change. In a candidate search for a contract position, being “out of date” will see that profile being skipped over in the blink of an eye.
Another basic one, which I find I need to hammer on and on with, is that is is so important to share your knowledge. Keeping everything you’ve learned to yourself is never going to position you as a market leader. You can share what you’ve learned in the form of handy tips or short and punchy blog posts – which others will greatly appreciate, plus they’ll mention you when they, in turn, pass the info on. Also, take your time to network, meet people and speak about your experiences at industry events and any other valuable opportunity.
I stand by the fact that telling your story is one of the main drawcards that you have. It doesn’t pay to be shy about it. I often tell the story of how designer Craig Jacobs, in his Sunday Times society column some years ago, called me a giraffe – and not in a particularly flattering way – because I was attending the event he was writing up in a pair of killer heels. The heels served, apparently, to “add a few centimetres to my already excessive length”. As a testament to my ability to turn the negative into a positive, I created the boutique business The Giraffe Brand Academy where, today, I assist others to stick their necks out and stand tall as they set about creating a personal brand they can be proud of.
It is vitally important to express gratitude for the opportunities that come your way. My big thing is always to write a personalised “thank you” note, on my letterhead, after a big speaking event, which I then post or hand deliver, along with a small gift. The gifts I like to give are a “with gratitude” corporate chocolate, for local clients, and a small giraffe brooch or other form of giraffe memorabilia for my overseas clients. The latter links back to Africa, and also my personal brand. I find this such a nice touch when I am on the receiving end, so I aim to spoil all my valued clients in this way too. In these tech-dominated times, a handwritten note is so greatly appreciated and will forge a link that you’ll be grateful for, in turn, in the near future.
Note: A small addition to the above is to remember to greet the people whom you work with when visiting client offices – not just the senior staff members or CEO, but also the receptionist, whose role it is to support everyone there, as well as the cleaning staff and tea lady. It creates a good vibe that can’t be underestimated.
Taking video footage on a regular basis, even just on your phone, is a brilliant way to showcase to the world both your sparkling personality and unique passions. You could use video clips to share knowledge about something interesting when you’re out and about; to inform people of the things going on around you (traffic news, weather updates, race results); and could also thank a client, for example, or interview a colleague – when you know that your fans and followers will find it valuable.
Essentially, your personal brand captivates. It allows people to become truly interested in what you are up to, rallying them to get behind you as you reveal the causes which resonate with you, as well as positioning you to continuously rise successfully – gracefully towering in your field.
Liezel van der Westhuizen, who has a Masters in Business Communication, owns The Giraffe Brand Academy. Here, her mission as a personal brand builder is to assist clients to stick their necks out and cultivate their power to stand tall and be unique. This, she believes, is the key to marketplace success.
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