Personal branding is vitally important, yet none of the professional women I know—including myself—learned that until years after we started our careers. Having a good brand will help you come across as knowledgeable, capable, highly credible, reliable, and will establish you as a strategic and integrous leader.
Personal branding in the corporate space is the way you present yourself in the workplace environment. This includes how you dress in a professional setting, how you react to pressure or deadlines, and the personality traits that influence your work.
Creating a brand needs to be a conscious decision. It has to be definite, and every aspect integrated with purpose. First, think about the type of brand you want to carry. Assess the values and the qualities most important to you. Not only does this require reflection, but also additional effort if the characteristics of your brand are new to you. Above all, build your brand with integrity, and with confidence.
One of the most important attributes a woman can bring into her professional brand is confidence. How do you develop confidence? Try interviewing yourself. Explain your strengths in-depth. When you know your strengths, you know what you can stand on. Also, ask yourself what makes you uncomfortable, and use those answers to establish your boundaries.
Define who you are, and you will start to define your brand. Ask questions like:
- Am I trustworthy?
- Am I knowledgeable?
- Am I capable?
- Do I have leadership qualities?
- Do I have compassion?
- What is my confidence level?
- Am I competent? If not, why? Am I not prepared enough, or do I not have enough knowledge?
Second, once you have looked within yourself and identified the traits valuable to you, start building the brand that reflects those elements in your professional environment. Once you have your individual brand, explore how it plays into the company, and how it affects your target market and audience. Then you’ll be able to adjust your brand to truly personalize it for the results you want.
Your brand also needs to be a clear representation of your work ethic, because that’s what people will associate you with every day in your workplace. It will also give your coworkers and clients the ability to be more familiar with you.
As you explore this process, be aware of the traits and habits that can ruin your brand. It’s possible to have a bad brand, and you earn that reputation when you let your integrity fall to the wayside in an effort to reach your goals. This is why it is so important to establish your values beforehand. Otherwise, you’ll adjust them depending on your situation and be inconsistent in your character.
Something else to keep in mind, is that your brand will continually evolve through your career. As you grow and change, so will your brand. Your brand will become a positioning factor within your company, as well as for customers, industry individuals, and prospective customers or partners.
It’s easier today than ever before to create a brand and collaborate and build relationships with other professionals, largely thanks to social media. Social media plays a huge role in branding and job presence. If you choose to have professional social media profiles, such as Facebook, Instagram, and LinkedIn (along with Twitter and many other platforms) each one of them should match your brand. This is especially important as you consider applying to companies or networking with other professionals. Do your homework and research their values, mission, and brand. Understand the organization, their workplace culture, their rules and practices around social media, and so on. If you want to build a relationship with them, you want to make sure your brand tells the best story of who you are and aligns with their purpose and brand as well.
While my generation didn’t put much stock into creating personal brands, you have the incredible opportunity to create your own path. Your path will take you further. Faster. The sooner you think about your professional social media, branding, and appearance, the better! Take the time now to build and understand your brand. Start as soon as possible, even before you graduate college, if you still have time. Get your social media in order, find a professional style that fits you, start doing some thinking, and research the kind of company you want to work for.
We can learn to brand ourselves from a young age. It’s time to start now!