building your personal brand

People have always understood the notion that employees are in the market to sell their skills. However, this understanding has been on an abstract level, never very clear in practical terms until now. The notion of a service provider as a business owner and their skills as a commodity has become more evident with the proliferation of social media.

Individuals now can brand themselves like traditional businesses such as Apple and Amazon, etc. By branding, individuals distinguish themselves from other people with similar skill sets. This branding of an individual is referred to as personal branding, and it is vital for career development today.

Branding yourself shouldn’t start the moment you start looking for a job. It is advisable to build your brand long before, while you are still a student. Taking such an initiative gives you a head start when you finally get into the market. It is imperative to note that potential employers now follow applicants’ social media posts. At the very beginning, you need to portray yourself as a decent, well-mannered person who is serious with life. 

The bottom line in all of this is that you need to control your online reputation on your social media platforms. What they see informs their perception of you. How do you manage your online reputation? The first step in that endeavor is to develop a personal brand mantra.  

This is your tagline. It is the things about you that you want people to know. A brand mantra is not a mission and vision statement. It is you speaking about yourself in a few sentences.

 Hillary Clinton’s brand mantra on Twitter is as follows:

2016 Democratic Nominee, SecState, Senator, hair icon. Mom, Wife, Grandma x3, lawyer, advocate, fan of walks in the woods & standing up for our democracy.

Ted Cruz’s mantra on Twitter reads as follows:

Father of two @heidiscruz’s husband, fighter for liberty. Representing the great state of Texas in the U.S. Senate.

In both instances, these individuals brand themselves. They tell their audiences some things about them. Hillary Clinton and Ted Cruz are many things, but they chose the ones that would put them in the most favorable light to highlight. Choose what to highlight depending on whose attention you want to catch.

How do you go about perfecting this first step? The following are some steps you can take.

1) Find Your Personal Emotional Appeal

The first question you must ask is how you affect the people who interact with you emotionally. How can a person who works with you benefit from the interaction? Is there a specific way that most people describe you? Your mantra will be the positive things you want people to take home about you.

There may be some people you caused to feel bad, some who may have felt that working with them was a waste of time and speak ill of you. Seeing that you want to create a positive impression, you will focus on your positive reputation. Of course, a suitable tagline in itself is not enough; it needs to be backed up by an authentic experience when people finally meet you. Having a tag that doesn’t match your character is ultimately counterproductive.

2) Find a Fitting Description

One of the most potent elements of branding is labeling. You have identified your appeal, but the knowledge of what you want to put in the mantra is only in your head. You need to put it in words in a way your audience can understand and appreciate. This is where your choice of words is essential. It is also critical for you to carefully choose the aspect of your life you will use as a vehicle for this description.

The examples we have used above have given their families prominence in their mantras, maybe to show potential voters that they are for family values. As a personal brand, when seeking employment, you might want to mention the industry in which you have experience.

You can flaunt some of the other attributes you have demonstrated in your place of work or the course of your studies. It could be creativity, analytical skills, etc. Work-based social media platforms such as LinkedIn have more options in which you to make these descriptions. Besides the industry you are in and the choice of words, you also need to be mindful of your target audience.

3) What Do You Do?

By now, the person reading your mantra may be able to deduce what you do. However, it is always important to be explicit. Ted Cruz’s mantra presents a good example when he says that he represents the State of Texas in the U.S. Senate. The two most important questions to help you in this aspect of the mantra are what you do and why the way you do it is different from how everyone else does it.

Here, a person who may otherwise be considered rough and insensitive can describe themselves as ‘honest’ or ‘straight-shooting.’ Such an element of description gives a positive bent and ensures people see you as you describe yourself when they finally meet you.

The distinguishing attribute is critical because no matter what you do, thousands or even millions do the same thing across the globe. Why should a potential employer choose you at the expense of others with the same skill set as you? Let them know.

4) Assemble Your Mantra

The information we have described above is a lot, it can take a lengthy write-up to describe it, but your mantra can only be a few words. Therefore, you should put together all the information in a series of short sentences and phrases; none of the phrases you use should be more than five words. It would be better to make the phrases rhyme like poetry, as this is a great way to make the mantra memorable.