The power of personal branding

Entrepreneur’s Digest
Published: Nov/Dec 2012
By Ronald Lee, Managing Director, PrimeStaff Management Services 

Whether you’re looking to get hired, promoted or more business deals, a great self-marketing strategy will help you stand out from the competition. What do job-seekers, the happily employed and entrepreneurs have in common?

Well, ‘personal branding’ is important for each of them to get ahead in their careers or business. Those in the market for a new job certainly need to sell themselves to target employers. And if you’re gainfully employed, marketing yourself well to your superiors will help you stand out from the competition and snag that promotion you’ve been eyeing.

Business owners need to brand not only their products and services but themselves too – in order to secure more and more business and build their empire. Think of real estate magnate Donald Trump and his myriad businesses that carry his name from Trump Vodka to Trump Steaks. According to the financial experts at Forbes, the Trump brand was estimated to be worth a cool US$200 million in 2011.

Personal branding is more than just advertising your skills and abilities. It is the sum total of everything that’s unique about you as an individual, from your physical appearance to your professional achievements, all packaged as a distinguishable asset that leaves an indelible impression.

Get started on your own personal branding project with these 10 tips.

Google yourself
No, it’s not an ego trip. We recommend this as your starting point because the Internet is the first place that your superiors or prospective employers and buyers will turn to in order to find out more about you. They’ll be looking for reasons to eliminate you as a prospect. So before they dig up any dirt on you, trawl the Web to find and annihilate any skeletons hiding in your Internet closet that you may have forgotten about.

Get a great headshot
Next, you’ll need to take a fantastic photo of yourself decked out in professional work wear if you don’t already have one. Invest a little bit and get it professionally done in a studio with perfect lighting and digital enhancements. Seeing a great headshot that exudes professionalism and poise may make people more inclined to hire you or do business with you.

Create your own personal MVV
All successful organisations have powerful and clearly worded Mission, Vision and Value statements. So should you. Take some time to look within and ask yourself what is your ultimate mission – your purpose – in life, what does your vision for your life look like, and what do you stand for? More importantly, how do these align with your chosen career path? Your brand is a projection of you and you can only communicate this to the world effectively when you have a deep understanding of yourself from the soul level.

Manage your online reputation
This is related to my first point – we all have an ‘Internet presence’ that lives on in perpetuity in cyberspace, unless we actively manage it by deleting any undesirable content, like a blog you started 10 years ago as a student raving about your all-night raves. Watch what you post on Facebook even if you think your privacy settings are as impenetrable as Fort Knox. The world is so small; you never know who might know one of your ‘Friends’ and they can easily view your profile through your mutual friend’s account. Make sure you keep your account clear of any unsavoury photos especially those of your drunken nights out.

Get linked
On LinkedIn, that is. The social media site for professionals is a must-have for anyone who cares about their career. It’s a powerful tool that is widely used by recruiters and could connect you with prospective employers instantly. Besides keeping your profile up to date with your career movements and achievements, be active on it – join the professional groups related to your industry and initiate discussions on hot topics related to your area of expertise.

Create a professional blog
Use it as a platform to showcase your knowledge; it will set you apart from your peers and position you as a thought leader in your field. Such a strategy of content creation will add tremendous value to your personal brand as it shows you’re on top of industry trends and have sharp insights. It’s important that you offer a fresh perspective, as it will make your personal brand more recognisable and memorable. You can also use the blog to broadcast your career highlights and achievements.

While you’re at it, why not create videos to sell your ideas too. All the rage now, a well-produced video clip with fantastic content can go viral around the world and make you an overnight star in your field. Besides positioning you as an authority in your industry, it will show you up as tech-savvy, too.

Write a guest column
Build on the previous point by writing analysis pieces and contributing these articles to the company newsletter or better still, get them published in magazines relevant to your trade. This will instantly boost your profile and visibility in industry circles.

Keep up to date
In order to be a thought leader, you’ll need to be at the forefront of the latest developments in your field. Take every opportunity to attend seminars and professional events to upgrade yourself even if it’s on your own time and dime.

Join a professional affiliation
If you aim to be the best in the business, you ought to be a member of your industry associations. For human resource practitioners, that would be the Singapore Human Resources Institute (SHRI) while accountants have the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants (ACCA). You never know what opportunities might come your way through the targeted connections you make there.

Network like a pro
Network, network, network – every chance you get. Most people believe getting ahead is about ‘who you know’. I’d like to offer you a slightly different perspective: what matters is who knows you. The logic is simple – the further your name travels in industry circles, the more headhunters or business partners, for instance, are likely to come knocking on your door.

Now once you’ve got all your ducks lined up in a row, it’s time to tell and sell your story and just watch how far your personal brand takes you.

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