In building your career, nothing is more important than your personal brand.
When you think of powerful women like Oprah, Rihanna, or Gwenyth Paltro, you can’t help but to think of their personal brands. Yes, they have strong business ventures, but the culture they have created and the purpose behind their companies started with them.
Before their companies were established, they distinguished their purpose and created a message that connected with others, separating them from the pack. They live their brand everyday. We knew Oprah as the independent altruistic leader, Rihanna as the “bad gal,” and Gwenyth as the lifestyle “it” girl.
“Let excellence be your brand… When you are excellent, you become unforgettable. Doing the right thing, even when nobody knows you’re doing the right thing will always bring the right thing to you.” – Oprah Winfrey
To have a successful personal brand you must have a story, strong positioning, a genuine personality, and relevant associations. This way, your brand will set you apart, cut through the noise and create meaningful connections. Here are five things you can do that will elevate your brand to new heights.
Know Your Story
Having a well-thought out story distinguishes you from other professionals and creates a meaningful connection. In the midst of the coronavirus, business cards are out and personal stories are in.
Your story is often shortened to a sentence or two when people describe you to others, so it’s important to know what your values are in a brief statement in addition to your narrative. Spend time deciding which values are most important to you, how your past has brought you to those values, and how your current role or future accomplishments will support your values. Then, using no more than 30 words, create an introduction statement of who you are and what you stand for.
When creating your entire personal narrative, it’s important to understand the struggles that you overcame that brought you where you are today. No story is interesting without trials. If you’re telling your story to an audience, be aware of which tensions they are most likely to empathize with and be sure to highlight them. Your personal narrative is a great way for an audience or individual to connect with you on a more personal level.
Leverage Presentation, Verbal, and Nonverbal Communication
Communication begins before a voice is heard, and when you speak, each word holds immense value.
How you carry yourself, the clothes you wear, and your makeup all communicate to others something about yourself. Remaining true to yourself in your appearance is important, but equally important is being attentive to the work environment you’re entering into, and having flexibility to adjust your look according to your surroundings.
When it comes to speaking, you don’t have to use complex words or phrases to get your point across. When you confuse, you lose. Use direct language that doesn’t hide your question or obscure the point you’re trying to make. Being direct in speech starts with getting rid of filler words. We all have them and it’s important to know which ones you tend toward and supplement them with a pause. This pause will allow people to better hear what you’re saying, provide you with time to choose what to say next and add even more importance to your words.
Build Your Network
In our tech-driven world people begin to build an impression and make judgements before they ever interact with you.
Having a presence on social media, even just one or two channels will make the difference when building your network. Remember, consistency is key with social media, so be sure to have a set posting cadence and that your posts reaffirm your values.
Joining groups within your professional interests will put you in touch with new people. Now that meetings are all virtual, it’s easier than ever before to start a conversation or ask questions within a group. You can find virtual career groups on LinkedIn where you can direct message people, or Clubhouse where you can speak to professionals in real time.
If your brand is already established, a great way to expand your network is to tap into other professional groups. People value diverse thought, so learning from a different group of people, asking questions, and adding to the conversation can go a long way. The best way to join new networks is if you have a connection that is already in the network, allow them to guide you and introduce you when the opportunity presents itself.
Invest in Yourself
Having a personal brand requires investing time to become a thought leader and time to rest, reflect and recharge to be at your best.
In the technologically-driven world of fast information and constant advancements, information is updated constantly. Staying abreast of the latest in industry news, business theories, and lifestyle trends will keep you well rounded and help you make analytical, fact-driven decisions.
Investing in your emotional intelligence and self-care will allow you to maintain composure when tensions mount. This includes allowing yourself to rest to avoid burnout, in addition to giving yourself a real vacation every once in a while to recharge and stay fresh.
Hone Your Focus
As a woman, the world pulls you in many different directions, and whether you’re a mother, sister, or daughter, these roles come in addition to your role at work.
Being aware of the different demands on your time will allow you to evaluate how much time you spend in each role. If you find yourself going over in some areas, then creating ways to be more efficient, or adjusting time allocation will allow you to focus on the area you want to excel in for your brand.
Having a coach or mentor can help you hone your focus and develop a strategy to reach your goal. Whether that person is an industry veteran or a life coach, having someone to hold you accountable is invaluable.
The value of understanding your personal brand and refining it early in your career is undeniable. You don’t have to be a famous actress, business tycoon, or singer to stand out from your peers. Staying consistent with your brand values, especially in times of adversity, is when your values will make the greatest impact.
The more time you spend practicing these tips to establish your brand, the more you will be able to cut through the noise and create meaningful connections. Let this be the year where you put your brand values first, and in doing so, become an inspiration to others around you.