Think about a time when someone asked you a question like this:
“Can you tell me a little about yourself?”
“What’s your story?”
Did you have a good answer ready?
Did you feel like you represented yourself well?
Do you think the person who asked you will remember your answer?
It sounds like an easy enough task, but presenting a clear, cohesive picture of yourself in a few words, in a way that makes you stand out, takes some work.
That’s where the project of personal branding comes in. If you can home in on what makes you unique, and be able to articulate your skills, goals, and values, you can confidently present to others what you bring to the table.
Aside from being a good exercise in self-knowledge and confidence, personal branding can help you succeed in professional situations, like networking and interviewing. It can also help you create or improve your digital presence.
What is a personal brand?
To put it simply, a personal brand is the impression you make on other people. It’s a combination of your history, your personality, your skills and talents, and the decisions you make about how you present yourself.
A personal brand isn’t necessarily packaging yourself as a business or commodity. Think of it more as taking control of how others see you—you want to help them see, and remember, the best parts of you. Having autonomy over the way other people view you can be empowering, both personally and professionally.
Instead of building a false image of who you are, personal branding at its core is intended to help you display your authentic self in a genuine way, but also in an influential way. You have special skills, stories, experiences, and personality traits that make you unique, memorable, and, yes, potentially useful.
Once you can speak about those traits, and show them to others, you’ve created a personal brand.
How to develop your personal brand
To create your personal brand, it can be helpful to ask yourself some introspective questions and write down the answers. You could also record yourself answering them, instead of writing. Or you could just take some time to think and reflect on each one.
Here are a few questions to start with as you begin thinking about your personal brand.
- What are you good at?
- What makes you feel proud of yourself?
- What experiences have shaped those things about yourself that you’re proud of?
- What are some compliments others have given you that have stuck with you over time?
- Imagine someone you know describing you to someone who has never met you. What do you wish they were saying?
- In an ideal world, what would you be doing in one year? Five? Ten? Right now?
- What types of work do you most enjoy? Why?
- What group or type of person do you feel understands you best? Who understands you least? Why?
- What do you want to be known for?
These are just some ideas to get started, but I encourage you to come up with some questions and prompts of your own. Or, find a friend, colleague, or career coach to bounce ideas off of. Talking with another person can also help you to see things about yourself that you may not be aware of. Since personal branding is all about your interactions with other people, it often helps to work on your brand with the help and perspectives of others.
How to use your personal brand to your advantage
You’ve done some reflection and begun to develop your personal brand.
Next, you might want to practice a response to the prompt at the beginning of this article: Tell me about yourself. Try to develop an answer, about a minute long, that tells a story of who you are, and highlights the answers to those reflective questions.
Don’t just focus on what people might want to hear, though that could be worth thinking about. Instead, channel your confidence to speak about your best qualities and show what you bring to the table.
In a digital-focused world, it is increasingly important to stand out if you want to succeed. Many hiring processes consist of filtering through countless resumes and online applications to find the ones that they think stand out in a way that matters to them. Personal branding can help you become one of those standouts without changing who you really are. It’s just a matter of, well, branding.
Other parts of your personal brand that you can work on include your resume, your social media and LinkedIn profiles, and even potentially a website. These are all things that career coaches with digital experience can help you with, in addition to all the earlier steps in personal branding like reflection, brainstorming, elevator pitches, and creative visualization. They can also help you pinpoint your audience and tailor your personal brand to your short- and long-term goals.
Whether you are looking to get promoted within your company, make a career change, enhance your digital presence, or narrow down your niche, creating a clear and compelling personal brand can give you an edge.
If you aren’t sure where to start, consult with one of our coaches, who are experts in personal branding. We’ll help you at all stages of personal branding, from discovery and brainstorming to digital implementation. We’re excited to help you represent your best self in the world!