Personal branding has fast become one of the most discussed topics in business, driven in part by the rise in social media, but in particular by the rise in professional networks like LinkedIn. Suddenly everyone has a platform on which to build their own reputations and virtually network with other industry professionals.
It is clear that branding is no longer just for business… it’s personal.
What is (and is not) a personal brand?
Personal branding is about managing your name — even if you don’t own a business — in a world of misinformation, disinformation, and semi-permanent Google records. Going on a date? Chances are that your “blind” date has Googled your name. Going to a job interview? Ditto. – Tim Ferriss
A personal brand is the cumulative image of what defines you both as a person and a professional. In other words, it is the unique combination of skills and experiences that make you, you. Developing a personal brand is an ongoing process. As you are constantly changing and evolving, your brand must also evolve to align with who you are and what you love to do.
On the other hand, there are many things a personal brand is not.
- It is not an image. Strong personal brands must be authentic and based in reality.
- It is not different from professional branding. Of course you may be more casual with friends than colleagues, but there should be a thread of consistency in all your interactions.
- It is not just for senior executives. It doesn’t matter who you are or what career path you are taking, a digital brand shows that you’re a player in your industry.
Why is personal branding important for public sector professionals?
You might be asking yourself, is personal branding really for public sector professionals? Aren’t government agencies meant to celebrate the quiet achievements made through hard work and dedication, rather than shouting it from the social media rooftops?
That is true, but modesty shouldn’t translate to invisibility.
Being visible in the right spaces is extremely important in today’s public sector.
Your connections with other government professionals create context, allowing you and others to set standards, refine processes and achieve best practices across every tier of government. Networking also increases the public good, allowing government departments to rise to challenges more effectively.
Ultimately it is also important for you personally – your unique experience and specialised knowledge – to help you stand out from the crowd and develop your professional reputation. Having a personal brand that is consistent across social media platforms also gives you a place to engage and connect with others in your industry network.
How to build your personal brand
Building your personal brand is an ongoing process. Here is how you should start:
- Key questions – ask yourself some key questions: ‘Who am I?’ and ‘What do I want to be known for?’
- Create your online presence – create a profile on all the major social networks and ensure each platform is accurately and consistently representing who you are and what you stand for.
- Create content – use published content (such as blog posts and articles on LinkedIn) to build and showcase your expertise.
- Engage – network online and in person, attend conferences and workshops and engage with your contacts in an authentic way. Respond to blog posts and articles that are in line with your personal brand.
- Constantly re-evaluate – remember that building your brand is an ongoing process. Ask yourself those key questions not just once, but every once in a while to make sure you’re still on the right track.
One last caveat – while it is important to have a personal brand, it is vital that your online presence stands out in a positive way. As of 2017, 70% of employers use social media to screen potential candidates. Use social media as a chance to showcase your personality and highlight your skills, interests and achievements. If you think your post could be questionable or viewed as inappropriate, leave it off.
Custom social media training for teams, councillors and individuals available – click here or email Janine for more information.