Personal Branding is not just for those looking for work

There is a trend that is becoming larger and louder – personal branding. Most of the buzz is about how it can be used by those looking for work, but it is more than that.

In the Francophone media – from Capital to Courrier Cadres – there has been a lot of articles written related to the subject of personal branding. The name itself dates back to the beginning of this century – from the USA of course – although the concept is ancient. All the great leaders, from Richard Branson to Barack Obama to name but two recent ones, have been masters in the art, without giving it a name. Given the difficult financial and business situation that we are going through, it is not surprising that we looking at new ways of doing things.

However, if you are a manager, or a team leader of any sort, if you have to present or face a public, then personal branding tools are also for you.

Let’s clear one thing up straight away, though.
Personal Branding is not about showing off and saying how great you are.
It is about recognising your talents and understanding how you can make the best use of them.
It is about making sure your talents and strengths are recognised by others and it is about creating and managing your reputation. This last point is particularly important today with the rise and rise of Web 2.0 and the social media sites.

So here are some quick points that you as a director or a manager or a team leader might want to take into account (remember, understanding how someone builds a personal brand can also help you in your recruitment process – you will know how they have gone about it, what is genuine and what is false. It works both ways.).

• It is about being authentic – what you say about yourself has to match your actions;
• It is about being « visible » and not just « present », being « active » and not « passive », taking part and not just watching from the side, and this is especially true when it concerns your reputation;
• It is about gaining in confidence by having a better, and more accurate, image of yourself;
• It is about learning how others see and perceive you, and reacting accordingly;
• It is about promoting yourself appropriately;
• It is about making sure your goals and objectives are coherent and will therefore be achievable;
• It is about being able to sell your ideas across your organisation because people will have « bought into » your brand;
• It is about highlighting your (positive) differences and promoting them, because you if cannot or don’t differentiate yourself, if you are no different to anyone else, why should anyone use you?
• It is about getting people to want to come to you rather than you having to go to them.

It is about more than this, but this should give you an idea of the role that Personal Branding can play if one is to be a good and efficient manager of people, and even of oneself.

We’ve all heard of how recruiters use the social media sites when making their selection policies (according to one American study, up to 63% of companies trawl through the social networking sites to find out more about their potential recruit!), but it works the other way, too. By being visible, by managing your brand well, you are able to increase your reputation and therefore increase your attractiveness, both for your internal clients – your colleagues and staff – and your external partners.

I have not written an article about what personal branding actually is, (that is for my next one), but to try and clear up some points and to show that it is important for everyone to be at least aware of its importance. Anyone with any responsibility within a company has to understand its importance and its relevance in today’s media conscious world. If you are a leader, then you must take control of your brand and manage it properly, otherwise others will do it for you. Make no mistake, we all have a personal brand already – it is how we are perceived by other people. The tools of Personal Branding allow you to manage and control the brand of you, and put you in charge of your reputation.

In the next article, I will explain more about what Personal Branding actually is, and some ways that we can create it.

Stuart Clarke
Consultant in Branding and Creativity
October 2009

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