Building your personal brand has become an essential ingredient to your career toolkit. While the idea of having a personal brand has been around since before the internet, it’s become an increasingly popular concept, necessary to have, and simple to achieve in the age of social media.
It’s key to understand that your personal brand needs to be nurtured on a regular basis, not thrown together hastily when you find yourself in the midst of a job search. Sure, when you’re looking for a job, the personal brand you’ve built for yourself will pay off massively, but you need to start early on and build it continuously as you grow in your career, especially so you can call on it in times of need.
Don’t fret if you haven’t started already, because it’s never too late. You can start to build one right now! Treat your personal brand like you would a plant you’re growing from a small seed. It should be nurtured and watched over to make sure it fits the reputation you want to portray in the world. While it may sound cheesy, take note of what author Tom Peters said in a 1997 Fast Company article:
“We are CEOs of our own companies: Me Inc. To be in business today, our most important job is to be head marketer of a brand called You.”
Read on for a few top tips on how you can begin building your personal brand.
General Assembly will run two technical skills workshops at EXPAND London
How do you want to appear to the outside world?
It’s understandable that taking a good look inside yourself can be an absolutely daunting task. But even putting aside a weekend to think deeply about who you are, where you’ve been, and where you want to go will pay off in ways that are difficult to realise at this very moment.
Back when I graduated university and was quite literally thrown into the real world, my dad sent me on my way with a little book called “What Color is Your Parachute?: A Practical Manual for Job-Hunters and Career-Changers”. At the time if felt as if this title was mocking me, but I ended up reading it cover-to-cover, spending a significant amount of time on the second half of the book that focused primarily on practical exercises to get you to determine your true passion and how it can translate into a career.
There are plenty of other exercises you can try through a simple Google search, but the point is, it’s best to utilise some sort of tool to help you determine things like your interests, skills, values, purpose, and goals.
If you need an extra boost of help with this exercise, Howard Kingston, co-founder of Adludio and one of General Assembly’s top instructors (who teaches a number of growth hacking and personal branding workshops) suggests to ask those closest to you what they think your skills and qualities are. Start with your parents, then your closest friends, then talk to your current or past Manager and colleagues you’ve worked closely with. It can be eye-opening to hear what others say about you, and even somewhat flattering!
Bridging the Gap: Why Upskilling is Key to Your Growth by Lora Schellenberg
Your brand is everything you do
Take it from General Assembly’s blog post on how to define a brand. Thinking of your brand as “everything you do” applies to any company, and it should apply to you as an individual as well.
Think about all common channels we utilise to display ourselves to the outside world: Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram, Facebook (even if your account is private, your main profile page isn’t!), a Google search of your name, and the one we often forget, ourselves in the flesh. Next time you interact on social media, publish a blog in your byline or chat to your colleague next to the water cooler, take a step back and consider if the action you’re taking or the point you’re making is in line with the person you aim to be. Hold yourself to a higher standard when out in the real world.
Please remember, this isn’t to say you should not be the real you. But perhaps if your favourite thing to do is party until 5am at the hottest London nightclub every weekend, this isn’t going to be the most positive and productive way to portray yourself. And if this is your favourite thing to do, it may be time to look inside yourself and try to figure out some more wholesome activities and interests to dip your toe into.
Find an outlet to amplify yourself
Whether it’s leading a community, blog writing, podcasting or speaking, find something extra to spend your time on that will allow you to amplify yourself beyond just your day job.
For the last three years, I led a London-based Women in tech community, which ultimately landed me my job as the Marketing Lead at General Assembly. Being involved in the women in tech movement and being seen as a thought leader on the subject grew my network ten-fold, even though this was never my initial aim. Figure out what excites you, stick with it, and become known for what you’re passionate about. It’s easier than ever to start your own community, write a blog post on Medium or LinkedIn, record your voice and publish it as a podcast or find opportunities to speak at events. Just get out there, and the rest will take care of itself.
Building your personal brand will allow you to stand out from the busy crowd, show your knowledge and experience for a particular set of topics, and give a sense of what makes you uniquely you. Believe it or not, this is precisely what employers are looking for now as they build well-seasoned teams of interesting people, as opposed to just another cog in a giant corporate factory.
Lora Schellenberg is the Marketing Lead at General Assembly, running all of GA London’s community events in tech, design, and business. She’s been immersed in the London startup scene since 2012 with most of her experience in marketing, business development, and growing communities. She has also been the Co-Managing Director at Girls in Tech UK, a network aimed at supporting and raising the visibility of women in tech, entrepreneurship and innovation through monthly events, mentoring, coding workshops and more. Connect with her on Twitter @lschells7.
General Assembly will run two technical skills workshops at our careers event EXPAND London happening Sept 1st. Click on the image to register