What is a Personal Brand & How Does It Help?

Business woman on smartphone

When you hear someone discussing their personal brand, your mind may immediately go to celebrity and influencer culture. While branding is absolutely essential for someone in those industries, it’s not exclusive to them. Developing, promoting and owning your personal brand is beneficial to just about any professional, no matter their industry. 

Business coaches Mariela De La Mora and June Caloroso joined The Mom Project to host a virtual session on personal branding and its benefits in the everyday working environment. They explained the many ways a personal brand goes beyond a resume, encompassing a person as a whole instead of focusing solely on work history. With a personal brand, a job candidate becomes humanized and is no longer just one of many resumes in a stack. 

Developing, promoting and owning your personal brand is a multilayer process, but the rewards that come from all of the effort will be worth the work. Here’s how to get started.

Owning Your Personal Brand

What is a personal brand?

De La Mora describes a personal brand as an “authentic representation of who you are” that “amplifies what you believe and what you want to be known for.” To develop it, she says you should think about “what you love, what you’re good at, your values and beliefs, your purpose and how you’re different.” By pulling from these places, you develop a full picture of who you are and what is important to you, which gives your audience a sense of what you bring to the table beyond a bullet list of career accomplishments. 

What does a personal brand do? 

Speaks to your chosen audience

At Unity Hour, Caloroso explained that a personal brand often speaks to a specific audience. This audience may be potential employers, clients or industry peers, and it can (and likely will) evolve over time as you move along in your career. Your personal brand will change and shift simultaneously with you as a professional, so the audience will change over time (but, you’ll still have to update documents and profiles to reflect that).

Shows you are more than your work history

Since your personal brand represents who you are as a whole, it allows your audience to see you as more than a resume. Your personal brand will put a spotlight on the things you do outside of work that likely influence how you operate on the job. For example, if you work in the tech industry but you still choose to highlight your photography hobby, while it may not directly align with your profession it could help call attention to the artistic eye you can bring to a project or demonstrate your attention to detail. Additionally, by mentioning your kids or family life, you let your audience know where your priorities lie, so you’ll be more likely to connect with people who will respect those boundaries. 

Highlights major career moments, not just accomplishments

While the purpose of a personal brand is to present you as a whole person instead of just an employee, its purpose is to help you professionally so it still needs to include your career story. What makes this a little different, though, is that in addition to listing the highlights, education and accomplishments that you’ll find on a resume, your personal brand will also be made up of major turning points in your career to further paint the picture of what brought you to where you are now.

How do you optimize your personal brand?

Create your own website 

Having a personal brand is only helpful if it’s out there for people to see, so you need to market it. To put your personal brand on display, create an online portfolio that represents your personality and style. This should be a place where your audience can not only find the basics like your resume and contact information, but also learn a little more about you through photos and an “about me” page with a brief summary of what brought you to where you are. Make it easy for employers and clients to find and access this page by adding it to your email signature and including it on your resume. 

If you’re in an industry where your social media presence is beneficial, make sure all of the content aligns with your brand, and even if your social media presence is unrelated to your industry, you will still want to clean it up to keep it professional (or put everything in private mode) because chances are very good potential employers or clients will Google you.

Use LinkedIn

During the Unity Hour presentation, Caloroso spoke in depth about the ways LinkedIn can help strengthen and optimize your personal brand. Her advice for making the most of your LinkedIn profile? Focus on the areas that can be customized, like the ‘About Me’ section, the profile banner, attachments and headline. Share your brand summary from your website in the ‘About Me’ section of your profile. If it’s lengthy, condense it down a bit so you don’t lose a recruiter or client’s attention. You should also attach your resume to your profile and link to your website and any of your published work. Finally, add a banner with a design that ties into your website, it will create a sense of cohesiveness and further strengthen your brand. 

Beyond your profile content, you can use LinkedIn to grow your professional network. Write and share articles, connect with other professionals within your industry and get involved in public discussions where your input will be beneficial and noticed.

📖 Read more: Check out Networking 101 to start building your professional network wherever you are, using the tools you have right now.

Represent it in real life

A personal brand shouldn’t just be bait for you to put online to help you land an interview or meeting, you need to actually live it and bring it with you into that interview or meeting. To do this, De La Mora recommends preparing a handful of well thought out career and personal stories that align with your personal brand and sharing them in the meeting when the moment presents itself. She says these stories will not only further paint the picture of who you are, but they will also help make you more memorable. 

Final thoughts

Once you have a good understanding of all the things a personal brand encompasses, the process of developing your own becomes much less overwhelming. It’s an opportunity to show off your personal style, get creative, tell your story and set yourself apart from competition.

Once it’s out there, your personal brand will help connect you with employers and clients who have read through your unique experiences and journey and take that into consideration when deciding to work with you. Whether you’re job searching, networking or growing your client base, owning your personal brand will help you come out on top.

Woman typing on laptop keyboardWorksheet: Discovering Your Personal Brand

Download the Personal Brand Worksheet to discover your personal brand and how to communicate it.

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