Personal brand – it’s not something that is only useful for celebrities and talk show hosts. Personal brand is important for professionals too.
Before discussing about how to cultivate a personal brand by embracing your uniqueness, let me share with you my story.
I left my home country when I was 15 and I went to a collage in another country. I had just turned 15, didn’t speak English well, didn’t speak the language that locals were speaking and was a little bit on the chubby side. There was nothing more I wanted then to fit in. To have people to sit next to in classes and hang out with before and after classes.
But because I didn’t know how to try to fit in, I was this weird international student who was always studying in the library. I was the anti-social bookworm. I spent 3 years at that college but I can count with one hand the number of friends I had in total. My personal brand in my teenage years didn’t have a chance. Or as teenagers today would say, it didn’t slay.
Fast forward to a few years after my lonely college days, migrating and graduating from a university in Australia, I started working. I had a bachelor and master of Computer Science under my belt so naturally, I got technology related jobs and worked with computers. Then, I thought I’d fit right in because I was as geeky as the next computer science graduate. But I was wrong. I was geeky but I was wearing a dress. Technology industry is a male dominated world and female talents are far and few. So I was different yet again. Everyone knew me as that Asian female developer in the office. My personal brand sort of improved since my teenage years, but it was nothing amazing or memorable.
After almost two decades in this industry, things haven’t changed a lot and I still find myself being the only female in the room. The good thing is that I have gotten comfortable with standing out rather than fitting in and using that to my advantage and cultivate a desirable personal brand based on my uniqueness and strengths. In this article, I will be sharing with you what I have learnt about building a memorable personal brand since my awkward teenage days.
Understand how you are currently perceived
Back when I was 15, I didn’t realise that I had a personal brand, albeit an unfavourable one. Every one of us has a personal brand, it is how we are perceived by others. The difference between a good personal brand and a not so good one is sometimes just a matter to changing people’s perceptions of you. I usually like to find out about how I am being perceived by asking others — feedback, testimonials, recommendations and reviews are just some ways to obtain insights about how you’re being perceived by others. Once you know what you are known for, it is easier to invest in the areas that you would like to change or harness and be proactive about them.
Identify your unique selling proposition
We are all unique but it takes some effort to really understand our uniqueness and how to leverage it to our advantage. Do others know about our uniqueness? Think about one or two things that you are known for. Sometimes, people make the mistake of thinking their uniqueness equals their biggest strength. Let me tell you that it is simply not the case because you can be great at many things but your uniqueness is something quite special. Your strength alone doesn’t make your Unique Selling Proposition (USP). For example, you may be great at public speaking or selling but your USP cannot be just being a great salesman. It is not very memorable. But if you say you’re a property salesman who is extremely witty, can speak 4 languages and can close 99% of deals in less than 24 hours then it’s a lot more interesting and credible. The statement highlights not just your strength but also your personality and your expertise.
Increase your visibility by adding value
Speaking and writing are great ways to increase visibility of your brand but they are only half the equation. The other half is about adding value when you do them so you are remembered. I used to have this habit of rushing to get things done because I like being productive. But as I became a mother and my time now is more precious (read: looking after a little human being can be very time consuming though rewarding), I am more conscious about making an impact with the things I do rather than just getting things done. Therefore, choose your options carefully and invest in creating good content when it comes to writing and speaking because it is all about quality not quantity. The value you’re bringing to the table should also align with the brand that you are building for yourself because just showing up doesn’t cut it. To build a personal brand that is memorable, you need to be thoughtful and intentional in all you do.
Reach out to influencers for support
Guess what, influencers are humans too and they had to start somewhere. Most influencers are more than happy to help and support if your request aligns with their strategy or values. The only issue is they probably get a lot (and I mean a lot) of fan mails and requests every day. So the key is to find a sweet spot that will benefit both parties when asking influencers to champion for you. Consider this example, how did Melanie Perkins, a 20 something years old fresh-faced CEO of Canva, got Guy Kawasaki, the renowned author and entrepreneur to become her company’s evangelist? I know it’s easier said than done but it is indeed possible.
Influencers are humans, too.
Be consistently good
This one is not something that is unheard of but it is important. Do you think people remember someone who has done something awesome three years ago? Well, yes, they might be able to recall her name or what she did but she is definitely not at the top of mind for them. Why? Because they haven’t seen her awesome work or hear about it recently. Therefore, consistency is key; consistency in your message, consistency in your effort and you will achieve a consistent result. In others word, if you want to have a desirable personal brand, you must perform the activities to cultivate your personal brand often and perform them well. Don’t do something awesome one day and then go on a radio silence for the next 364. Do something awesome as often as possible.
Don’t do something awesome one day and then go on a radio silence for the next 364.
So are you ready to create a personal brand that will help you unlock opportunities and make an impact? I think you are. I’ve put together a free checklist for creating a personal brand, check it out.