Why care about personal branding?
Simply said: to make your life and career goals happen.
I received the best business and personal branding advice from my father in the 1980’s when I was a little girl.
“Remember Katja, people do business with people. Companies don’t do business with companies. There is always a person in a company doing business with a person in the other company.”
The advice has served me well over the years. It helped me to launch a career in social media marketing, and I started many of my social media conference speeches with the story already twelve years ago. And still to the day I carry it with me when I have train people and corporate teams about the importance of personal branding. I started consciously building my personal brand 13 years ago when I launched Skimbaco.
Over the years the entire term “personal branding” has experienced some kind of inflation and it has negative connotations for some. “Branding” sounds fake to many. Even the training available these days is often more of “how to use social media” and practical tips, than the reasons WHY you should be thinking about personal branding in the first case.
The truth is that you, my dear, have a brand, whether you want it or not. It simply means your reputation and what people think of you. Some also talk about having a social media presence or showcasing your expert status.
But why should you care? Simply said: to make your life and career goals happen. Saying that you don’t care about your personal brand is like saying you don’t care about making your goals come true.
The term “personal branding” might seem a bit well-lived already (or simply misunderstood?), but in today’s Zoom and distant working atmosphere, my father’s tip and personal branding are almost more relevant than ever.
We should not just become monitor screens or distant voices in the conference calls without any personality. Being human and having empathy through the video screens will go further – and get business done faster and better.
But what does personal branding have to do with this? It means that people already have an opportunity to have the feeling they “know” each other even when they’ve never met and they are about to have that first Zoom or Teams meeting. When personal branding is done well, you will not have to even work as hard to try to get the coveted calls scheduled — but the correct people will start contacting YOU and asking to do business with you.
When you put out who you are, what you offer, and why people should business with you… people will start showing up.
Personal Branding For Employees & Job Seekers
“We need our team to promote our company on social media and teach them about personal branding. We want you to train them.”
I have heard the sentence multiple times, and then a team of reluctant employees is gathered. I can see in their eyes they are forced to do the training and fear what’s coming: an invasion attempt of their personal accounts.
By the end of the training, they are excited to get started.
Sure, employers can train you on how to use social media, and they should want you to have a strong personal brand. But it should never be just so you can post about them. Your personal accounts are YOUR property and they work the best for you AND your employer when they are built authentically and with YOUR personal brand in mind.
People want to work with people they feel they know. How will they get to know you if you only talk about your employer? Focusing on your life and career goals should be the most important topic when you think of your personal brand and social media presence.
Yes, you should be sharing content about and being proud of the company you work for, and yes, in many ways you can bring value with your social media presence and personal brand for your employer. But it also benefits you! It just solidifies your position and helps your career development. You will be associated with the great company you work for and that (hopefully) reflects well on you.
Peers, partners, customers, but also future employers and employees will be able to see what you actually do and where. It is always better to post about your employer in relation to how it reflects on your part of their story, and not just the company-wide news. The more you can share what you can do, the better it serves you and the company you work for (remember not to reveal too much though!).
I know people who save hundreds of thousands in recruiting and marketing costs for their employers because they utilize their personal social media channels in their work. Being an employee like that is coveted in the labor market.
Unfortunately, 2020 has shown that many jobs we once seemed safe, have not been safe anymore, and I’ve watched many professional friends struggle to find new jobs. Many of them have been loyal, hard-working “company men” and women, who people deeply associated with the company they worked for. In the worst case, they have not built their online presence at all, because why would they have to – that got a solid safe job in the big reputable company, and LinkedIn is only for job seekers?
Personal Branding for Employers
Hiring a consultant to come train your employees about personal branding and how to use social media is not enough. And this comes from a consultant.
It requires much more from the employer’s part to create the type of culture where employees want to create authentic original content.
You will need a social media strategy for your team – you will need a strategy on how to get your team to shine and want to share content about your company. It is in your benefit that they will post other things as well, and it should be encouraged.
You should take things like your company values, your marketing and communications strategy, and your employer branding into consideration. Your sales, marketing, and HR people will want to be included in the discussion.
Make it fun – not forced. Make it about people – not about the pitch.
Have a policy of dos and don’ts. Teach best practices. Make it easy.
It’s about providing value and getting to know people.
And then you can sell and promote, of course.
The leadership should also take time to learn more about the power of social media to understand that the best way to get results is not constant promotion. Also – what is the ROI of your team being on social media? Which key personnel really should be on social media (like salespeople) and how can you support them? The personal branding training should start from the top, and the top leaders of the company should be the examples to follow.
I was once in a meeting where a CEO praised a team member for her exemplary social media posts and what an asset she was for the company – and continued on shaming another team member who had only posted about the company once. The praised person had joined social media right after the team training and posted multiple enthusiastic posts about the company every day. The problem was that since she had just joined, she had under ten followers. The person who was shamed for posting too little had multiple thousand professional followers – and one post most likely went much further away than the 20 posts from the person who had just joined. It is crucial for the leadership to understand the difference – and what kind of participation is beneficial and what not.
Interested in learning more about personal branding?
I don’t want to spend hours every day on social media (ever feel the same way?). But yet, social media and networking have been my most important sales and marketing tools for 13 years.
What’s the crazy part: I’m a marketing strategist and I rarely write articles about marketing. (I should, right?)
Yet, I’ve been able to do marketing consulting and work with companies of all sizes (one-woman show to Fortune 100), and in multiple industries that I’m interested in (travel to fashion, AI to IAQ).
I also have over 100,000 followers on social media.
I have multiple secrets, and I’m launching my secrets to personal branding training soon.
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