How do you create professional value? What is it that you offer that no one else does? These are two questions to consider when you’re establishing your personal brand. As Ora Shtull explains in Stand Out: Boost Your Personal Brand, a personal brand is “… what makes you unique. It includes your values, passions, ‘superpowers,’ and even quirks.”
Professionally, of course, your goal is to have an in-demand personal brand, one for which organizations seek you and your skills out “… to work on and deliver meaningful ideas, products, and services.” The first step to this is knowing your brand. To do that, ask yourself—as well as others—what makes you, you. After all, if you consider yourself a dynamic communicator but others don’t, organizations aren’t going to seek you out for that competency.
After you’ve asked several people what words they use to describe you at work and thought about the types of tasks and projects you’d want to be selected for, you can use that as the basis for developing your personal brand tagline—a short description of what you do, how you uniquely do it, and for whom.
Millennial workplace expert and author Adam Smiley Poswolsky, as quoted in Goldie Chan’s Forbes article, sums it up this way: “Carve a niche and then carve a niche within your niche. The best personal brands are very specific.”
Once you’ve done the hard work in understanding your personal brand, you can implement what you know into your daily work. Use your personal brand tagline to introduce yourself to others and make a strong positive impression in the process. Shtull explained, for example, that she is a “career blaster”—that is, an executive coach who helps individuals thrive in their careers and get promoted.
A critical element of personal branding today is an online presence, starting with the summary section of LinkedIn’s platform. “This is where you tell your story and make your brand come alive for viewers,” advises Shtull.
But LinkedIn is much more than a glorified resume. It’s a place where you can show your brand and interact with other professionals. In his Inc. article, leadership expert Peter Economy writes, “When you give back to others, not only will you gain the personal satisfaction that comes from doing it, but you'll build your brand in ways that money can't buy.” You can do this, notes Shtull, by sharing useful articles and joining groups through which you can contribute your expertise.
Another way of giving back to the community, this time in-person, is through industry associations or other professional volunteering. “Volunteerism of any variety will make you a more attractive and respected professional,” posits Shtull, “and one of the wonderful things that naturally comes with professional maturity is an instinct to give back with gratitude for all the blessings you’ve received.”
While some may think they don’t have time to work on their personal brand, you can’t afford not to. And, Shtull notes, keeping one’s personal brand prominent doesn’t have to take a lot of time. For example, spend a few minutes sharing interesting, useful articles on LinkedIn several times a week; create a short video about something you’re passionate about; or connect with others in real time by stepping away from your desk and talking with someone outside your department.