Growing your career: The importance of personal branding and how to master it
Being happy in a career isn’t a necessity for living a fulfilled life – but it’s definitely a good start.
So, what is it that makes people satisfied with their jobs?
Recent research data shows that most professionals (as many as 80%, in fact) feel like the key to job satisfaction lies in the feeling of connection to their work, the organisation they’re working for, and their colleagues.
Flexibility also scores high on the list of things making workers happy, with nine in ten employees stating they want the freedom to choose when and where they work. And, of course, there’s the question of career growth.
So, if you find that you share these priorities, you might wonder: what’s the best way for growing your career? Well, it turns out that the possibility of career growth isn’t just a perk you should look for when applying for employment. It’s something you can actively work on for yourself. And you can do so by committing yourself to personal branding.
This article explores the importance of personal branding for career advancement and gives you a few tips on how to master it.
Understand the concept of personal branding
Personal branding can absolutely be the key to reaching your career goals. But, for it to work for you, you have to understand what the concept entails.
By definition, personal branding refers to the conscious and intentional efforts an individual makes to influence the public’s perception regarding their industry-related authority, credibility, and competence.
In other words, personal branding represents an opportunity for professionals to advance their careers through planned action that communicates the value they have to offer.
So what does it take to employ personal branding to advance your career?
Well, there are multiple steps you must take before you can build a brand around your name and use it to reach your goals.
But, the great news is that there’s a simple template you can follow to get started with your personal branding journey in a way that will allow you to reap its benefits sooner rather than later. Let’s get into it.
Figure out who you are
Before you start employing personal branding for career growth, you must do one crucial thing. And that is figuring out your professional identity.
Just like a strong corporate brand must have a clear idea of what it does, what unique value it offers, and what differentiates it from its competition, so must you too.
For example, think of one of the world’s strongest corporate brands: Coca-Cola.
If you look at its branding strategy, you’ll quickly realise that the organisation doesn’t position itself as a brand that sells soft drinks. Rather, it has worked for decades to build an identity of an entity that brings happiness, nurtures connection, and continues exciting its target audience.
What Coca-Cola’s example shows about branding is that there’s no single formula to position an entity as an industry leader. Instead, the best way to influence the public’s perception is to identify what makes a brand (or a professional) unique and build on that.
An aspiring architect may want to show that they’re approachable, budget-oriented, and always looking for new ways to solve existing problems, as YouTube influencer Daniel Titchener does. Or, they could target an entirely different audience and base their personal brand on the pillars of luxury, exclusivity, and status.
What’s important when doing this is to know what you want – not just in terms of career opportunities but also in terms of your personal interests and priorities (like a good work-life balance).
Find growth opportunities
The second essential step to building a personal brand to advance your professional path is finding growth opportunities.
It should go without saying that growing your career should come with the readiness for lifelong learning. But the truth is, many professionals lose track at some point and fall into the trap of replicating and reusing the same old solutions they had come up with years (sometimes even decades) ago.
To avoid this pitfall, the absolute best thing you can do is set an achievable goal regarding your professional development.
This can be anything that’ll help you keep your edge and stay a step ahead of your competition. It can be taking online classes, completing a part-time degree, or being persistent about only taking on projects that will challenge the knowledge you have and will force you to think in new ways.
Work on visibility
Mastering personal branding is absolutely impossible without a readiness to invest in your professional visibility. Fortunately, however, in today’s world, that’s easier than ever.
With channels like LinkedIn, professional tools on social networks like Facebook and Instagram, and the fact anyone can create their own website, achieving visibility is available to anyone willing to make an effort. Of course, that doesn’t mean it won’t take a lot of work.
To ensure that your target audience – be it your future clients or employers – has the opportunity to discover the value you offer, you need to look for ways to get your message across.
Starting a well-written, information-laden blog is one fantastic strategy for working on your visibility. So is using social media in creative ways. Just think of Kat Norton, who managed to build an entire business around sharing Excel tips on TikTok. Or, consider ways to marry your professional and creative sides and start a podcast or YouTube channel.
As you work on your visibility, make sure you don’t fall into the common trap of being just another aspiring professional doing the same-old things everyone else in their niche is doing. Always prioritise originality and freshness. And keep an eye out for all the new trends in your industry.
And, if you decide to go with the more traditional personal branding path that includes writing a blog, ensure that you use all the tools you can. Employ free grammar, readability, and plagiarism checkers so that the content you put out actually contributes to building a positive image of your professional persona, instead of painting you as a rambling individual whose articles are filled with grammatical errors and paraphrases of existing content.
Finally, as you look for ways to influence how you are seen as a professional entity, don’t forget that the only way to do branding effectively is to be consistent, authentic, and persistent.
When networking (offline or online), make sure that the messages you communicate are in line with your professional identity, the value you promise to deliver, and the results you wish to accomplish.
And remember, brands are never built overnight. This means that starting on your personal branding journey now (even if you don’t have a clear career path ahead of you just yet) makes for a good decision for securing success in the future.
Don’t forget to stay true to your values, priorities, and personal goals. Sure, this may mean that you won’t be seen as the perfect choice for everyone in your professional network. But, it will also help you focus your attention on the career opportunities which are the right fit for you, getting you one step closer to job satisfaction and a career path you’ll be happy with over the years to come.
Final thoughts: What personal branding means for your professional future
There you have it, a beginner’s guide on how to employ (and master) personal branding to grow your career.
As you can see, while this type of self-promotion relies on some amount of marketing and communication, its basis is an idea that’s much simpler: knowing who you are as a professional, what you want, and communicating that to your network with the purpose of finding like-minded people and organisations who you’ll collaborate with in the future.
Sure, in the end, building a personal brand might not turn out to be the door-opener to job success you wish it to be. You might even find that your career takes you in a completely unexpected direction.
But, whatever the outcome, rest assured that the experience of personal branding will teach you valuable lessons about how to present yourself to reach your goals, how to connect with like-minded people, and, perhaps most importantly, what it means to take your future into your own hands.
Featured image courtesy of Unsplash
Natasha is a lady of a keyboard and one huge geek. She has a rich history of working in the branding, small business, and career growth related fields, so she is always happy to collaborate with awesome blogs and share her knowledge all around the web. To see what Natasha is up to next, check out her Twitter Dashboard.