How Developing a Strong Personal Brand Can Help Your Career

Apr 15, 2015 - Joe Matar
Imagine this situation: Microsoft is presenting the new version of Windows and you’re invited to the launch event. How would you dress? How would you imagine the people there? Now, picture the presentation of the new iPad at Apple’s headquarters. You would arrive quite differently, right? It’s amazing how a simple logo or name can instantly build a whole image in your mind. You’re able to imagine how the people behave, dress up and interact. You can even imagine their hobbies. This is the power of a brand. The same happens when you think about yourself as a brand. Both inside and outside of your company, your personal brand represents how others see you. Your personal success depends on how others see you, especially those considered decision makers. Simply by reading the name “Apple,” words such as design, informal, innovation, visionary might come to mind. Similarly, adjectives like smart, motivated, mediocre or lazy could come to people’s minds when they hear your name. The key is to be tagged with great brand characteristics as soon as somebody hears your name. But great brands don’t appear magically overnight. Branding yourself takes some time, effort and introspection. (Click here to tweet this hard advice.)

How do you know what your personal brand is?

The most common and effective way to learn about your personal brand is by seeking feedback. Ask a good colleague at work for an honest critique. Bear in mind that people usually don’t like to tell you what you should improve, and this colleague might tell you what you want to hear. Convince this person to give you honest and real feedback to help you learn about your strengths and weaknesses. You can also request feedback from your manager. Your boss should naturally be interested in helping you to develop, as that benefits the company as well. Here’s another powerful tool, one that’s less obvious than requesting feedback sessions. During your next four or five meetings, think about what the people in the room might think or say about you if you weren’t there. Scary? Yes. But this trick is really powerful if you want to know yourself.

What if you don’t like your brand?

No one can be good at everything, so don’t be frustrated. Think about the most successful people in your organization. Do they really excel at everything? No. But they are good at showing their strongest traits. It’s time to focus on your own strengths so they overpower your weaknesses. Make the most of your great characteristics by finding the right places to put them into practice. Pay attention to the image you project. You may assume you’re an extrovert, but your coworkers may be sure that you’re actually more shy or reserved. You don’t have to change your entire personality based on this -- you just have to know how to play to your strengths. Learning about your best qualities and refining them is better than trying to be the best at every skill. A lot of companies look exclusively at the weaknesses of their employees and try to convert these weaknesses into new skills. But research shows that most of the time, these efforts only result in minor improvements in skill level. You’ll refine your brand if you focus on excelling at what you do best. Focus on doing work or completing tasks where you can apply your best skills, and your brand will naturally shine. Fernando Vilas is founder and CEO of Quisapit, a website that connects motivated students with the best teachers around the world. Get a full E-Course from Quisapit.