Personal branding has become a bit of a buzzword recently but if you’re a student looking to build a real and genuine personal brand which works for you, then keep reading! For today’s post, I spoke to Victor, a university student and personal development and branding coach and here are some absolute gems from our conversation around building a personal brand.
What is a personal brand in your opinion?
My definition of a personal brand would be a complete profile of who you are, what you stand for and the value you add to the world. Some people say it’s what people say about you when you’re not in the room and whilst this is a good definition, I’d say your personal brand can also influence what people say about you whilst you’re in the room. There are two key aspects to a personal brand:
- It’s ‘personal’: it’s not related to your company or employer but rather it’s a profile of you that encompasses your values and beliefs.
- The purpose of getting a personal brand isn’t to get everyone to like you or to attract 2 million followers but to make connections with people who share your professional values and appreciate your work. For example, Gordon Ramsay has a strong personal brand around all things food and cooking. Someone who isn’t particularly interested in cooking won’t appreciate his work as much as a budding chef.
Having a personal brand also isn’t the same thing as ‘influencing’ and we sometimes get the two conflicted nowadays. Whether you’re an influencer or not, most of us will have a personal brand.
What would you say to someone who wants to start building their personal brand?
Building your personal brand should really start with introspection and getting to know yourself.
- Firstly, have a think about your story: Who are you, where did you come from, where are you now and where are you going. For example, I often introduce myself and explain that I grew up selling chicken wraps in school to make money and now, I help people with their personal development and branding. Once you’ve thought about your story then you can start to figure out how to pitch this to the right people who might be interested.
- It’s also useful to think about the core: What are your professional values? What are your top skills and how do you want to use this to benefit people around you?
- Finally, once you’ve clarified your story and defined your values, you can start to think about communication. The aim is to figure out how you will pitch yourself and the value you can offer to the world because with personal branding, you get what you pitch for. If you want to build a personal brand as a great photographer, you might decide that you’ll post one picture of your work every week on Instagram and start to build a portfolio. Whereas a food blogger would need amazing pictures of food and provide value to their audience through recipes and restaurant reviews. Exactly how you communicate will look different for everyone but you need to figure out the medium you’ll use, which type of content you’ll release (if you want to) and how often you want to share your work.
If you could recommend three SECRET ingredients to building a personal brand, what would they be?
- Communication: Be very clear on how, when and to whom you want to share your story.
- It’s also really useful to think about influence and building a tribe. There’s a book by Seth Godin called ‘Tribes’ which talks about putting an idea out there and getting others to follow your idea and support it. If I wanted to campaign that ice cream should be free in the summer, I would start posting about this and trying to connect with other people who agree with this. To build a ‘tribe’, I’ll then create systems, ways or a platform to connect people who like this idea with other people who also support this idea. That way, you’ve not only built a community of people around you who also want free ice cream but you’ve empowered each person in that community by connecting them to other people who think the same thing.
- The final point is execution. If you have value to offer the world through campaigning for free ice cream for example, how will you bring this value into the world? It might be through a campaign you lead or a platform you create. For some people, execution might also include monetising your personal brand by leveraging it to market your product or service to provide value. This doesn’t have to be everyone’s aim but if you want to build a brand as a reliable team player then ask your friends what they think of you in a team setting. The feedback you get is invaluable for thinking about how you’d want to contribute to your future teams for example.
What challenges have you faced whilst building your personal brand?
Impostor syndrome has been a big one, especially given the pressure of social media. For example, I went to a party and someone said ‘Oh don’t you just sleep and wake up in a suit’ and this took me aback. There’s always a challenge of needing to keep up with what you’re portraying and posting and I constantly ask myself “Am I building a character?” Once you notice that you’ve slipped into character building then you might need to revisit your story.
Staying consistent can also be a struggle but although I don’t post consistently, I remain consistent in the messages I share and ensure that it fits into my values.
Building a personal brand might also mean that people start to trust you and perhaps reach out with questions or engage with you, all of which comes with responsibility and can require both effort and time.
Are there any books or podcasts which have really helped you on this journey of building a personal brand?
Tribes by Seth Godin
Nicky and Moose is a great podcast on personal branding.
‘Key Person of influence’ by Daniel Priestley- This one is an absolute gem so if you’re serious about personal branding, you need to read this book!
We rounded off the interview with some quick fire questions:
What’s the biggest advantage of having a personal brand?
Opportunities! When you build a personal brand, you start attracting certain opportunities and your brand puts you in the right rooms and allows you to network with amazing people.
What’s the biggest challenge of having a personal brand?
I’d say being consistent in your brand messaging. Are you being genuine? How much do you want to share?
Any final words to share?
Before you work on all the ‘branding’, always start by getting to know yourself, your story and your beliefs. Then, you can start to work on your visibility, building influence and adding value to the right people. Throughout all of it, remember that you should design your brand, your personal brand shouldn’t be dictating or influencing you.
I hope you’ve been making notes because this interview was really informative and clarifying. In our current professional climate, personal brands are becoming more and more important. I’d love to know in the comments, have you started intentionally building your personal brand? Are there any challenges you’ve faced or are facing or if it has, how has today’s blog post inspired you to work on your brand?