I truly realized the importance of Personal Branding when I resigned from my full time job in 2017 and started my first company with name of VIZE Solutions. My motive behind starting this company was very simple and consist of two key parts or missions. First, I wanted to build and launch some products under my name or name of this company. Second, I wanted to get business in the form of more work and projects in relevant field of my profession.
But, what happened when I started generating leads and looking for work as an individual or a new company? I got punched in my face with a bitter truth and a sad fact that “Who are You?”. All my plans and dreams got shattered by this fact that nobody knows me. Irrespective of all my experience, the number of projects that I have successfully built and delivered, the number of all those candidates that I have interviewed, hired and trained for my employers, the number of clients that I have worked with as a key team player, I was still unknown to the outside world. And it was actually true, because, I had never thought it that way and I was not even aware of this concept of Personal Branding and the impact it can have on someone’s career and professional life. That is when I really started taking it seriously and start working on it.
So, what is personal branding? You might have realized and understood the importance of Personal Branding from my story above. But to further clarify the term ‘Personal Branding’ here is a formal definition.
Personal Branding is your intentional effort to build your reputation and present, position or prove yourself as an authority or leader in your target area or field. It is your virtual being and presentation to build people’s perception, or influence people point of view, about you and your work to achieve your personal, professional and business targets and goals.
The core idea of Personal Branding is actually very simple. We all think very highly about ourselves. But, what really matter is what other think or perceive about us. We might be the hardest worker and shiny individual with some true potential and knowledge. But, what really matter is how other see or think of us. Do they even know about my real potential or the values that I can add from my side?
Here is a quote from Tom Peters regarding importance of personal branding.
All of us need to understand the importance of branding. We are CEOs of our own companies: Me Inc. To be in business today, our most important job is to be head marketer for the brand called You.Tom Peters
When I started my company, there were many people who wanted to join me. It was not because of the fact that they were looking for some financial benefit, or my company was backed up by some very strong funding or investment. It was also not because they knew the real me or have worked with me. It was because of their perception. It was because they perceive or see me differently as compare to outside world. They have worked with me as team or seen me working and coordinating with my team. They knew that this person can lead team, manage projects or solve difficult problems if required. Or we can say that they perceived my like this. But at that time, I don’t want anyone to risk his/her career and profession because of me and my goals. Therefore, I politely declined some and remain silent for others for a while.
Anyhow, this is a different story. The point that I want to make here is that I was still unknown and Mr. Nobody for rest of the world. I don’t have any strong social media presence, except personal or private accounts on some popular social media websites, not much participation in any online or offline relevant communities, no blog or any other unique online identity of my work and skills. I was clearly in need of personal branding or a way to build my reputation and prove my authority.
Personal branding also help an individual to ask for better price for his/her services and products as well as a bit more control over quality of work. Just think of it as a marketing tool. Because, this is how most of the brands work. Let’s take Dwayne Johnson’s (aka The Rock) sports clothing and footwear collection as an example. The initial launch price of Project Rock’s Training Shoes was almost $250.00 or more, which was almost double as compare to price of other training shoes sold by same store, i.e. Under Armor, on their outlets and online shops. It’s not that these shoes were much different as compare to shoes of other brands. It’s just an advantage of Dwayne Jhonson’s name and personal branding. It’s, because, he is a brand in himself when we talk about fitness athletes and body building. And this is how all other big brand and name work in real world, including Mcdonalds, Starbucks, etc.
You will find some really good articles with tips and methods for personal branding. But, I would like to highlight and discuss a few of those here that I have learned and using myself from almost 2-3 years now.
The number of times people read your article, watched your YouTube video, fork your GitHub repository for a project or just search your name on Google or LinkedIn matter so much more as compare to your actual physical being, these days. Therefore, you will have to make yourself visible and known for your work anywhere and everywhere. It can be via your own portfolio website or blog, a social media handle, a YouTube channel or a well written and thought through LinkedIn profile. And it will depend on your target audience and your profession. You will have to make yourself visible online to your target audience, clients or companies.
Although, it’s not going to be easy at start. Because, many people prefer quantity over quality. People usually watch and follow a person who already has high ranking or number of views as compare to someone relatively new, who might have better quality of contents and work. It will take time. But, once, you will be able to convince or attract a certain number of people towards you and your work. It will become relatively easy and almost automatic.
The Rock is an excellent example to anyone who follow or has interest in wrestling, bodybuilding or any other athletic activity. People know that if he is endorsing or using something himself, this product definitely has something to offer. It can be durability, flexibility or any other quality specific to that product.
Therefore, you should also prove yourself as a leader, an authority, someone who can become an example in that field. Or at least someone, who has enough followers or clients that can use or recommend your name to others for your work and services.
On the other hand, The Rock also know the value of his name and personal brand. He will never endorsed any low quality product or a product below his own standards. Because, if someone buy that product and have any issue using that product. It will definitely dent his own personal brand.
If I take my field or work as an example, many people and companies around here are either fake or they are trying to label someone else’s work with their name and brand. Believe me, this is not going to work and it can hit you in a way that you can’t even imagine, and it will destroy your brand if original author or owner provide any sort of claim and proof about their product, property and work. Therefore, you must be honest with your audience and claim only the product you actually own or authorize to sell under your name or name of your company or brand. And the work you have actually done by yourself or actual owner or author has authorized you to use your name for it.
Also you should be specific and true to yourself, which mean that if you are a service provider, like me, you should only market and claim the service that you can easily handle and deliver without any compromise over quality. Don’t just go for or target every service that can come under your domain. For example, if I can only work on web application, I should not claim or offer my services for mobile application development, until or unless I am 110% sure that I can do this without any compromise of quality for my client.
Here is a great quote from Lao Tzu.
At the center of your being you have the answer: you know who you are and you know what you want.Lao Tzu
This is another way to build personal brand. If you know a thing or two about something, try writing an article, or create and publish a YouTube video, and teach others about it. Or if you have enough material that it can be published as a small book, go ahead and do that. All of these methods, blogging, vlogging and writing, are great ways to prove your authority and understanding about something. And this can also be a free advertisement. You just need to create and publish your work and content free of cost online, that people can view, read or download. People will definitely refer or recommend it to others if they find or get any value out of it.
Personal branding is important and it can be the most powerful marketing tool and strategy for us, our work or services. But, it take time, patience and effort to build a brand. So be ready for this; As no brand can be built in a night or two, and overnight success is not a reality.
And remember these great words.
Your personal brand is what differentiates you from others.Unknown