By Patrick Colvin M.S.Ed, PHR, SHRM-CP
What do you want people to think of when they read or hear your name?
More and more professionals are asking themselves that question. Why? Because they realize that a strong personal brand is the ticket to new and exciting opportunities in both private and professional life.
Strategically, personal branding is a no-brainer. On average, employees spend about four years in any single position. When you know you’re going to be looking for a new job in the next several years, there’s something intensely valuable in having your reputation precede you.
More than that, personal branding gives professionals the opportunity to pursue their deepest passions without having to ditch their day job. The trouble, of course, is figuring out how to build a brand when half your day is spent at work.
How To Break Free Without Breaking Out
Workers often feel as though their current employer has taken them hostage. Especially for those who are interested in crafting a personal brand, the idea of building and maintaining a persona outside the office seems daunting.
Worse, personal branding can seem downright disloyal. It’s important to remember that this isn’t a zero-sum game. Personal and corporate branding don’t have to be at odds with one another. In fact, the stronger an employee’s own brand, the better they’re able to strengthen that of the company.
That one insight will pay dividends in creating time and space to develop your brand. If your management can see how your brand impacts their bottom line, you’ll find all the support you need. All that leaves, then, is the work. How do you hold onto that 9-to-5 and build a personal brand at the same time?
Here are 5 tips to get you started:
1. Build your online presence: We’re living in a digital world, and there’s just no getting past the need to construct a digital foundation for your personal brand. Start with a simple, yet professional website. Supplement it with a fully built-out LinkedIn profile, Twitter account and Facebook profile.
2. Share your offline presence: As crucial as digital media may be, there’s no substitute for real-world connection. Start attending as many industry meetups and conferences as possible. Strike up relationships offline, and then maintain them online. This will increase your name value in the field.
3. Speak in public: Branding is leadership. If you want people to follow (i.e., pay attention to) you, then you need to point beyond yourself to the deeper truths about your industry. There’s no better way to do that than to stand up in front of a hundred of your peers and deliver a compelling vision for the future.
4. Write a paper: What speaking accomplishes in terms of presence, publication does in terms of reach. Online publication is great, but print is even better. The gravitas of a trade journal or industry magazine won’t just help your resume; it’ll establish you as a thought leader in the eyes of your colleagues.
5. Collaborate: Look for opportunities to partner with others in your field. What can you do together to move your industry forward? How can you work with others to highlight issues and develop solutions? These questions will help you create the synergy you need to raise your personal brand to the next level.
For the most part, you can tackle these without infringing on the company’s time. When you can’t, show your company why it’s in their interest to send you off or give you space to write. If you can build a strong brand that shines a favorable light on your company, that will always be an easy sell.
Get To Work
The “trick” to building a personal brand isn’t cracking some esoteric code or finding the perfect niche angle. Strategy is important, and marketing skills help, but the key is this: Have something to say and the courage to stand up and say it.
So, build out your online profile. Get out there, and start meeting people. Stand up on stage, and deliver your ideas with conviction. Write them down for others to read. Collaborate with leaders in your industry. Do the work; put in the time. Build a strong personal brand, and people will have something to think about when they read or hear your name. Your reputation will go before you in ways you’ve never even dreamed. And, best of all, you’ll never run out of options in life.
Feature Image Credit: Shutterstock
By Patrick Colvin M.S.Ed, PHR, SHRM-CP
Strategic HR Business Partner| Workplace Investigations Expert| Termination Risk Analyst