Personal Brand – Reactive or Proactive?

Personal Branding connects who you are to what you do!

Everyone needs to think about personal branding. Whether you know it or not, you have a personal brand.  The question is, are you managing it? Whatever profession you are in, even if you are a stay at home parent and don’t have any intention right now in re-entering the workforce, you still want to manage your personal brand and be relevant.  You never know when things might change.

The starting point to developing a personal brand is to be clear about what you want and what you have to offer.  If you don’t know where you are going, your brand will be reactive rather than proactive.

Personal Branding is for everyone, but here I’m focused specifically on personal branding for the Job Seeker.  As the Job Seeker, you will want to know yourself well and be regarded as an expert in your industry.  The audience you are marketing yourself to is the employer and they want to know you can add value to their company.

Defining your personal brand includes:

  • Getting clear about your aspirations, and
  • Identifying what is unique about you. 

Once you have clarity, you will be able to communicate your personal brand effectively.

How to define your aspirations

People often fall into their careers.  Are you one of those people?  Maybe you knew someone who connected you with your first opportunity or maybe you followed in your family’s footsteps.  You know that saying ‘wherever the wind goes, you blow’. Perhaps that describes your career so far. You can be more purposeful in deciding the direction you want to go by first being clear about your career aspirations.

Are you seeking status, responsibility, more knowledge, a higher salary, career advancement or do you prefer, stability and predictability?  Do you want to leverage your expertise, be seen as the expert and master in your industry and teach others; or are you a person who prefers remain in the same role long term and that is how you see yourself adding value?

Answering these types of questions will help you get more out of the following simple exercise.

Ask yourself, what do I want to be known for?  Try this, imagine yourself at a dinner party and it is 10 years from now.  You don’t know anyone but the hostess and she is introducing you.  How do you want to be introduced?

For example, this is Brenda, she is known for her unique style of coaching and has developed an amazing reputation as the go to Career Coach.  If you want to know about getting all you can out of your career, she is the person you should talk to.

Do you want to be known as a great artist, an expert on sustainability, an amazing photographer, an inspirational coach or speaker, a dynamic writer?  What do you want to be known for?

How to determine what is unique about you

When determining what is unique about you, you will think about your natural talents, your skills and your passions.

When articulating what our natural talents are, one starting point is to think about what came easily to you as a child? Or, how your friends would describe you?  What is naturally a part of you that you don’t have to work very hard at?  Writing is often a natural talent for people, or public speaking, organising, problem solving, getting to the root of a problem, or analysing.

Skills are those things you put on your CV.  What you have learned along the way. Here is another simple exercise:

If you were dropped in the middle of nowhere and had to earn money, what could you do?  What are the skills you have learned? For example, project management, managing people, budgeting, computer programming, recruiting.

Passions are those things that excite you.  Try this:

Imagine yourself walking into a book store.  Which area do you gravitate towards?  Let’s say you are drawn to the magazine section.  If that is the case, what magazines are you picking up?  Are you picking up entrepreneur and business magazines, pop culture, gardening, motor racing, aircraft industry, home renovations, or children’s health?  Do you gravitate toward fiction or non-fiction, the personal development area or travel section?  What is it for you?

This will give you a clear indication of what excites you, what you are passionate about.

Additional self-exploration tools

When it comes to the personal brand you choose to portray, the most important thing is to be yourself.  That is what people will connect with.  The better you understand yourself, the more empowered you’ll be in your life and career.

Here are a few other resources to help you understand yourself better.

Myers-Briggs personality test

HEXACO personality test

Start by taking the first personality test and then reading about your personality type. The more you know about yourself, the better.  I truly believe that self-awareness is the catalyst to positive change.

Now complete this sentence: 

I use my natural talents of ____________ and my _____________ skills to have an impact in the ____________ industry.

If you find it hard to fill in that sentence, spend some time with this.  It is worth getting clear as this is important foundational work toward clarifying your personal brand.

Final Word

Think about your interests.  Where do you lose a lot of time?  What books do you love to read?  What are you always talking about?

Where are you noticing that there is a need in the market place relating to your interests?

By getting clear about your own aspirations, natural talents, skills and passion, you will be one step closer to deciding your personal brand and communicating it in a purposeful way.

Don’t leave your personal branding to chance.

Watch out for our next blog where we talk about your online footprint, how to communicate your personal brand, and daily personal brand management.


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