• Linda R. Taliaferro

The Personal Brand: What It Is & How To Build One

Have you ever heard of a “personal brand?”

According to business mentor and LinkedIn marketing expert Lakrisha Davis, branding is all about how others perceive you, and how you'd like to be perceived. Lakrisha explained that there are two types of branding: professional and personal.

Your professional brand is tied directly to your employer or business. When it comes to your personal brand, however, it's separate from the employer to which you may be attached. Everyone has a brand…whether you are intentionally building one or not.

In other words: It's all about YOU.

And the best thing about personal branding? YOU control the narrative. You have complete creative control over how others perceive you. This detail is CRUCIAL, because if you don't take the reins and control the narrative, you risk being perceived as someone you're not. Make sure to be intentional in steering your brand in the direction of your choice.

Examples of a personal brand

Are you approachable? Are you friendly? Are you collaborative? Are you that engaging person? Does the energy lift when you walk in the room?

These are examples of your brand. A brand associated with positive behaviors and traits will 100% work in your favor. However, if your brand is that you "always keep your head down," or "don't participate with the group or talk to teammates," you may want to work on changing it for the better. Do so by making authentic connections at work and volunteering for projects - and watch your brand transform in no time!

Why does your personal brand even matter?

Have you ever heard the phrase, "Your reputation precedes you?"

It means that people are often already aware of your reputation, even before meeting you. And while I believe that there's a difference between a reputation and a brand, the two are linked. Your reputation might be how you are viewed in a broader, more general sense, while your brand is more about your particular stroke of genius - and whether or not you can back it up.

According to Lakrisha, your brand can also directly impact your career's future trajectory.

For example, if you find yourself getting tapped for various organizational opportunities, it is likely because your brand is making a positive impression. If you're getting passed up for opportunities or being ignored, it may be that your brand isn't working in your favor.

Don’t like it? Change it!

Your brand can change…and you can adjust it whenever you want. Lakrisha explains how she was excited about her job as a new hire at one organization. She spent extra time working on building a positive personal brand. She communicated more, had a positive attitude, and went above and beyond. She participated in trainings and volunteered for projects. She successfully created a brand that said, "I am confident and full of potential." She was offered a promotion.

However, when management changed, so did her vibe. She felt the positive opportunities she had worked so hard for would no longer be available, which affected her personally. She stopped trying as hard, so her personal brand changed and did the opportunities available to her.

As a result, she learned the importance of having a positive personal brand and consistently maintaining it at that level.

How to create your brand

Time to take notes! Here are Lakrisha's 4 steps to building a personal brand.

  1. Think about what you want your brand to be. Think about the impression you want to make on others and the impressions you've put out there. Ask yourself if they’re a proper representation of who you are.

  2. Embody your brand. Even if you have done things in the past that might have cast you in a bad light, you can always turn it around and start over tomorrow. Once you have this new level of honesty and clarity with yourself, be consistent about working to improve it.

  3. Communicate with your superiors about your goals and what you want to get out of the organization.

  4. Use the power of social media to your advantage. Even if you're looking for work or starting a business, you can demonstrate your passion, personality, and values via social media, thanks to sites such as LinkedIn. There have been instances where a person's experience and shares have led them to speaking engagements and brand partnerships. You never know…you just might catch someone's attention!

Your personal brand belongs to you

Wherever you go in your career, your personal brand will follow. And while that sounds intimidating, it need not be...because it isn't carved in stone. You have the freedom to add to it, change it, shift it, and make it whatever you want it to be. Have the confidence to know that whatever happened in the past doesn't define who you are today. Your possibilities and potential are endless!

Do you need the confidence to get your brand just right?

Download the FREE GUIDE: Workplace Confidence for Black & Brown Women.

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