What does it mean to neglect your personal branding?
I’ve made a few mistakes in my professional lifetime. One of the biggest ones? Neglecting my personal branding.
When I first started working as a contractor, I didn’t think that I would really need to make a name for myself.
When I worked with other people as an employee, I didn’t really try to connect with them. Being Asian-American in workplaces where I was maybe one out of two or three Asians in the whole office, I thought it best to be quiet and complete my work as best as I could. Some friendships naturally happened, but I’m sure that I’m still a mystery to most.
And now that I’m in a leadership role, it turns out…personal branding really matters.
Reasons You Want to Neglect Your Personal Branding
For eleven years, I didn’t control my personal branding. Does any of this sound familiar to you?
- I don’t know who I want to be professionally.
- I’m happy with what I’m doing. I don’t need a personal brand.
- My personal life and work life are separate. No one at works needs to know about me.
- If I have a personal brand, I’m afraid people won’t like me or want to work with me.
- Isn’t personal branding just bragging about what you do?
This is a difficult situation for sure. You want your personal brand to be an extension of who you are, but how much should you divulge and how much can you keep private? This is something I still struggle with, but let’s keep things simple. You have many, many layers to your personality. What are you most comfortable with showing? What are you passionate about?
Here’s an example. I’m obsessed with plants, and I co-own a 3D printed planter business with my husband. It is something that I’m passionate about and I’m comfortable with sharing that with the world, so I created my personal brand to include greenery and plants. Whenever someone sees my personal brand, they’ll associate me with plants and growing.
If you’re not sure about where you want to go in your professional career, it’s okay to pivot and rebrand. At the core, though, you need to communicate who you are and what people can expect when they work with you, regardless of where you are in your journey. Your personal life can stay private, but putting yourself out there professionally can lead to new opportunities.
Personal branding isn’t necessarily about what you accomplish.
What are you doing to improve yourself? Sharing valuable content that relates to your work can help build your personal brand and your network.
Are you celebrating your team’s wins or the contributions of other members in your team? Do you share your company’s content, showing that you believe in the same mission and values of your company? Valuing the work your team does and being a positive force also helps improve your personal brand with your colleagues.
Your personal brand follows you wherever you go and sometimes even lingers behind when you leave a room.
— Jackie Cantoni
An easy way to jumpstart your personal branding is with a professional headshot. While you shouldn’t be judged negatively for your looks, having a professional photo shows that you care about your career and your professional life.
There are ways to DIY your own headshots (I did mine with a tripod and a remote trigger) and not-too-expensive ways to get nice photos if you’re on a budget (like hiring an amateur or letting a family member take your photo). If, however, you’re in the C-Suite or are in the business of writing published books, you should hire a pro photographer who specializes in portraits.
Problems that Happen When You Neglect Your Personal Brand
Are there downsides to not having a personal brand?
How many of these ring true for you?
- No one outside of my team knows what I actually do.
- No one knows about my work accomplishments.
- I have no endorsements on LinkedIn.
- I haven’t been promoted or I was passed over for a leadership role.
- I’m only connected to coworkers and family on LinkedIn.
- If you’re a contractor or business owner, you’ve lost deals because the client did not feel confident with your brand.
Staying quiet and doing the work does not do you any favors professionally.
By exploring your personal brand, you will find out more about yourself and what you value when it comes to work and professional relationships.
Here’s a quote from someone I disagree with on other topics, but this is quite apt:
Personal branding is about managing your name—even if you don’t own a business—in a world of misinformation, disinformation, and semi-permanent Google records. Going on a date? Chances are that your “blind” date has Googled your name. Going to a job interview? Ditto.
— Tim Ferriss
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