What is a brand?
Advertising guru, David Ogilvy, called it “the intangible sum of a product’s attributes.” More broadly, one might say brand is a “person’s perception of a product, service, experience, or organization.”
Personal branding takes these concepts and applies them to a person and how they are perceived. As Jeff Bezos famously said, “Your brand is what people say about you when you’re not in the room.”
These days, especially in business, we all have a personal brand, whether we are paying attention to it or not. Our online activity informs our personal brands – what we share, how we engage, what we write.
Increasingly, business leaders are recognizing the importance of building their own personal brand online as a tool and an expression of their leadership.
By building a personal brand, professionals can showcase their unique skills and expertise, and define what sets them apart. In the competitive world of business and attention, it’s critical that leaders are able to stand out and build their own visibility and thought leadership among online influencers within their industry.
Today, all professionals have the opportunity to craft their own unique brand thanks to the power of business-oriented social networking platforms, like LinkedIn and Twitter, as well as broader social media platforms, like Facebook and Instagram.
But there are a variety of misunderstandings and real barriers to be overcome. First, personal branding is NOT primarily about self-promotion; in fact, shining the light on others is often the most effective way to attract attention. Also, personal brand building takes time and energy and many people are still unclear on why they need to to make time for it and/or where to begin. And, for women in particular, social networks can too often be hostile environments, rife with online harassment.
To help overcome some of these barriers, I have curated five articles below that offer clear rationale and guidance for why and how business professionals can grow their personal brand online. All of these articles are written by women professionals who have navigated these challenges and are succeeding in using social networks to grow their influence and stand out among their peers.
Sonia Wedrychowicz started to build her LinkedIn influencer work as a social experiment. Now, in only two short years she has 14,000 followers and gets 120,000+ views on some of her posts. By engaging with her LinkedIn network, posting about conferences she has attended and sharing honest opinions on industry topics (like this awesome post on transparency) she has extended her professional network in ways she never imagined.
“It’s an amazing feeling to realise that people feel inspired and empowered after reading my posts. That engagement and the feeling that I can positively contribute to people’s lives is the biggest motivation for my social media activity.” – Sonia Wedrychowicz
Social networks have emerged as spaces where business professionals can meet each other, share insights and build trust-based relationships – all of which can help elevate your career and business objectives. In this article, Duena Blomstrom shares her 10 step ‘build-a-voice’ process that gives practical pieces of advice so business professionals can stand out in front of their market space.
“It’s no secret that traditional industries are under threat of being displaced by new entrants who are digital and nimble, but one of the antidotes can be tapping into and empowering latent human capital, making their leaders step up a notch.”
– Duena Blomstrom
Follow Duena on Twitter.
More employers than ever before are looking at professionals’ online brands to guide their decision making. That means, there is no better time than the present to start to build your brand online. While this may feel intimidating, in this article Danielle Guzman gives you three easy steps to start to grow your personal brand and elevate your career to the next level. (For more Danielle inspiration see: Danielle Guzman – How an online influencer found her why).
“No matter what we call the future of work—the gig economy, the fourth industrial revolution, globalization—building and protecting our brands is an essential skill. Personal branding in the digital sphere is an authentic online display of YOU, combining elements of your professional and personal self.”
– Danielle Guzman
Follow Danielle on Twitter.
Sallie Krawcheck understands that the when you talk about personal branding to most professionals they get pretty uncomfortable. That’s because most professionals recognize the importance of having an online personal brand, but feel they don’t have the time to dedicate towards it. Unfortunately, in this day and age if you are not active online you’re leaving tremendous value on the table. In this article, Sallie gives accessible tips that any professional can follow to start to build their online reputation right away.
“But just so we’re all clear: we all have a personal brand, whether we want one or not, whether we like it or not. Either you can shape it, or you can have someone else define it for you.”
– Sallie Krawcheck
Follow Sallie on Twitter.
While personal branding is important for all, we must recognize that female professionals do encounter some unique challenges when developing their thought-leadership. Gender norms have traditionally stereotyped women as polite, agreeable and quiet. When women violate these norms, whether in-person or online, they are labelled as aggressive or overly assertive. I highly recommend this article by Dorie Clark for male readers, in addition to female readers, to enlighten themselves on the realities women face when establishing their professional voices.
“Personal branding has some unique challenges for female professionals. Research has repeatedly shown that women are subject to a phenomenon known as the “likability conundrum.”
– Dorie Clark
Follow Dorie on Twitter.
For more personal branding help, check out these articles: