In All You Need to Know About Personal Branding Part 1, we discussed personal branding from a purpose-based perspective and divided the journey of building a strong personal brand into three stages:
- Before: People don’t yet know who you are.
- During: People are doing work with you.
- After: People express their experience of working with you.
Every stage is built around a set of key elements so let’s have a look at them in details.
Brand Stage 1: People don’t know you
Jeff Bezos, founder and CEO of Amazon, defined personal brand as “what people say about you when you’re not in the room”. When you’re building your brand from scratch or even when you’re expanding it to reach a wider audience, you’re planting an idea about yourself in their heads. Think about how you want people to perceive you. Hard worker? Fast performer? Task executer? Or lazy performer? Procrastinator? Because, yeah, everything you do emphasizes the impression you’re trying to make! Everything! The way you talk to people, how fast you do a certain task, your enthusiasm for learning, what you post, like and share on Facebook, your voice tone, being on time, and even the grammatical mistakes you make in emails and text messages!
In this stage, you’re working on:
- Brand awareness: Giving a positive impression about yourself as an employee. This includes your attitudes when dealing with people and performing tasks.
- Visibility: Boosting your social media presence since 80% of your brand is online. Be active and remain consistent.
- Increasing your reach: Widening your network and getting more people to know who you are and what you do.
- Value proposition: This is the promise you make to your audience and employers and how you will help them solve their problems. Thinking about your strengths and what makes you different from others is the key to develop a value proposition statement.
- Your story: Everyone has their own story that’s worth telling. Writing about your career journey and explaining what you did to come this far will create an emotional connection with your audience. Always remember that storytelling is very effective in marketing.
- Authenticity: Being genuine. Everything you do to boost your personal brand should come from within and tell something about you. Don’t lie. Don’t pretend. Be yourself.
Brand Stage 2: People are doing work with you
Now that people know and decide to hire you, it’s your performance area. Everything you have created and emphasized in the previous stage is tested here. It’s time to show how correct the impression you made is and deliver your claimed promise. You also have the chance to strengthen your connections, build trust, and develop a great word of mouth about your work. In this stage, you have to take much care of:
- The quality of your work: You’re a company, remember? People don’t buy average products just like employers don’t accept average work. Quality is key for excellence so make it a habit.
- Your attitudes: This includes the way you interact and deal with people, clients, employers, and workmates. Be professional on all levels.
Brand Stage 3: People are expressing their experience
This stage connects back to the first one: How was the experience of working with you? Was it successful? What do your employers and clients say about you? Are they promoting your personal brand? Word of mouth is a great marketing tool and you’d better learn how to use it in your favor. In this third stage, you have to keep up the good work, emphasize the impressions you made and strengthen your brand by developing:
- Your expertise: Developing your skills and focusing on a specific industry.
- Authority: Publishing high quality content about your area of expertise.
Building, maintaining, and empowering your personal brand is a long chain of actions, experiences, and attitudes that should all tell your next employer “I am the one you’re looking for!” All three stages are integrated. They’re developed in parallel because as a talent, you should not stop building your brand nor expanding your expertise. Watch yourself and monitor how your channels are tuned with your professional habits and remember that authenticity and consistency are keys to a strong personal brand.