In the last column, we spoke about how we can cultivate the habit of asking the right questions. We concluded that it is not about knowing the right answer but about nurturing a curious mind to explore new possibilities through logical and powerful questioning.
Today we will look at how you can start building your personal brand.
Surprised? Is it too early for you? Well, maybe not. Many of us made this mistake of not building our brand from an early stage, and this may be another differentiator for you. Before going any further, let’s understand what I mean by personal brand.
A personal brand is all about YOU -- your values, your passion, the way you would like to be known or perceived by others. It is about your uniqueness that differentiates you from others. It is very similar to any corporate branding exercise, but here the brand is you.
How is this going to help you, you might ask. It’s simple. Over time your ‘brand’ will establish who you are and what you stand for, and through this effort you will be highlighting your strength, your area of interest. You will be identified with a set of values and competencies that will give you your unique identity. This will differentiate you from the rest.
There are many books and articles on personal branding. I am also aware of extensive templates that are around that can help you. But at this stage of your career, I won’t advise you to go all out to create your brand. You still have a lot to explore and many things to learn and absorb as you are just starting your career. However, do not ignore it. I would recommend that you make a basic plan and execute it.
Here are 5 tips to get you started on building your personal brand:
- What you would like to be known for: It is completely up to you, but you should know what you want to be known for. For example, among a batch of freshers, someone might want to be known as a technological wizard, while another might want their executional capabilities to be their top draw. It is up to you to determine, but it is important that you start working on it. To do that, you need to understand yourself way better. You need to know your strengths, your competencies and your likes. Start reflecting on who you are, and over time you will find an answer about your niche.
- he purpose you stand for: The world is changing, and the young care much more about purpose than just earning money. If you can figure out the purpose you stand or live for – that is, what you are passionate about -- you can channelise your energy in that direction while building your brand. A deep look at yourself may be the first step towards finding your purpose, unless you are already aware of it.
- Be clear about who you want to reach: Once you know what you want to achieve, define who all you want to reach. If you are in the corporate world and want to build your brand for the next role or job, your audience will be very different from, for example, if you were a freelancer and wanted to build computer games or design web pages. This will help you determine the channels you would like to use; the next point is about that.
- How you want to get there: Now that you know what you want and who you want to reach, it is time to work on the stories you want to tell and choose the channels you would like to use to share your stories. For example, many recruiters use LinkedIn for recruitment and if your goal is to look for the next opportunity, you might choose to be visible there. Or you may choose to focus on your current role and, as many organisations have their own internal social media forums, you may choose to share your thoughts and express your opinion there. There can be other channels too. It all depends on what you want to share, and then the ‘how’ follows.
- Keep learning about yourself: What interests you today might change over time. The more you gather experience, the more you travel through the corporate world, the more awareness you will have about yourself. So, keep exploring yourself. Your brand image can be altered over time, though it takes effort.
At the end I would say, by building your brand, you can create a differentiator for yourself which will help you in your career or in your daily life. The best part is you will discover what you stand for, what your purpose is.
You are a brand by yourself even if you do not realise it, and so it is important that you take control of it and decide for yourself – your own brand versus being led by others’ perception .
However, be consistent with your approach and have a clear plan. Start-stop-start may not be the best approach. I have seen many youngsters getting too excited about building their brand, and that actually hampers their progress and learning. My suggestion is at this stage of your career, do not overdo it. You may start slow and chew on it. You have enough time.
As Jeff Bezos says, “Your brand is what other people say about you when you are not in the room.”
In the next article, I will share some tips on the importance of finding a mentor.
Partha Sarathi Basu has worked in leadership positions at Coca-Cola, Whirlpool, IFB group, Tata group, Spicejet and AkzoNobel. He is currently associated with a leading consulting firm apart from being a leadership coach. He is the author of five books based on his corporate and life experiences. A die-hard Calcuttan, he now lives in Amsterdam.