Do you need to develop a personal brand at work?

“Personal brand is what people say about you when you leave the room” – Jeff Bezos, founder of Amazon.com

Have you ever wondered why some business owners and leaders inspire you, whilst other’s leave you cold? Why you really like some people in your industry and admire what they do, what they stand for and what they say? And why other’s you come across professionally just get your back up and make you wonder how anyone could ever want to work with them?

It’s not necessarily that one leader is a better person than the other, or is better at their job than the other. It’s that their personal brand resonates so much more with you, your values and what you believe in.

After all, your personal brand is your reputation, and it precedes you in all areas of your life, including the workplace. The way you appear, speak and act defines your personal brand at work. Which is why I believe it’s vital to develop your personal brand at work to establish a reputation and reach your career goals.

But I’m not for the ‘fake it till you make it’ approach to personal branding. I’m not a fan of those who advocate crafting a glossy personal brand that isn’t true to who you really are.

I’m for developing a personal brand that is authentic to you, flaws and all.

You don’t need to pretend to be something you’re not to get ahead. In fact, in this day and age we’re craving professionals who are real. Who share both sides of the coin and are relatable.

So how do you develop a personal brand at work that’s real, but positions you for success?

Let’s start by breaking it down into three key areas:

  • The way you behave
  • The things you say
  • The way you come across

Behaviour

The way you act speaks volumes about your ethics, values and morals. To develop this and really understand how people perceive your behaviour, ask yourself:

  • What do I want to be known for?
  • Why do I deserve respect?
  • What do I stand for?
  • What can I bring to the table?

And, most importantly:

  • How can I demonstrate all of that through my actions?

It’s then about behaving in a way that is congruent to your personal brand. That supports all the things you wrote down and demonstrates it fully. For example, if one of the things you stand for is gender equality, you speak up when a female colleague is being unfairly treated based on her gender.

Communication

What you say, and how you say it speaks volumes about your professional values and also positions you as an expert. If you can demonstrate through the words you use and how you describe yourself, the value that you add to a business you’ll be indispensable.

A lot of it comes down to communicating with confidence and assertiveness.

One of the most effective ways of doing this is switching the way you describe things, from negative, uncommitted words to positive, more assertive words.

For example; instead of saying “I’ll try and see if we can get that sorted this week”, using more assertive language like “I’ll get that solved this week and ensure the team know what they need to do”

Personal style

You don’t need to be in a designer suit or wear the latest trends to have a personal style that helps you stand out in the workplace. Again, it’s about communicating confidence through your style.

It’s handy to have something that you’re known for… a personal style quirk that helps you be memorable or stand out. It should be something you already like wearing, or doing with your personal appearance, that you can emphasise a little more.

Ask yourself:

  • What clothes and shoes do I feel most confident in at work?
  • What do people point out about my personal style that I can do or wear more often?
  • What items of clothing or accessories do people really comment on?

It’s not about being contrived, and you’ll need to adapt this to your specific workplace. Some are more casual and relaxed, and you can really express yourself creatively through style. Some workplaces are more professional and strict in dresscode, so you’ll have to navigate this depending on your situation.

One last thing to remember

Personal branding will only work if you do. By that I mean, you have to put in the hard work and effort to reach your career goals and move up the ladder. Having a strong personal brand at work will help you but only if you’ve the integrity and work ethic to back it up.

Photo: Lisa Bentman, MAAT, is an English and Drama graduate and an avid knitter – all great assets of her personal brand.

Jen Smith coaches entrepreneurs in social media.

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