A discussion on a WhatsApp group drew my attention. Corporate communicators were debating if hiring middle to senior professionals in the industry had much to do with personal branding. Also, if recruiters seeking communication leaders via Linkedin indicated the relevance of your personal brand. One of them pointed out that most opportunities occur due to personal brands of communicators and relationships. Personal brands of communication professionals attracted talent managers via Linkedin, even if the jobs are ‘officially’ listed on recruitment portals, believed a few. So, does personal branding matter for corporate communicators?
According to a Linkedin Talent Report, 4 in 10 professionals are researching, networking and actively building their professional ‘brands’ although they may not be seeking roles. There is a growing trend with most hiring managers using social networks to tap high potential talent early and vet their expectations and future needs. Therefore, a professional’s personal brand matters immensely to be in the considered set. How you conduct yourself online as well as your opinion (thought leadership) can potentially set you up for success or failure. You don’t need to be a Richard Branson or an Oprah Winfrey to get noticed. Each one of us are already personal brands in our own rights. By focusing on the credibility you bank over time, you add to your reputation.
What can corporate communications or public relation professionals do to build personal brands that organizations would love to hire?
Due to the roles corporate communications or public relation professionals play it may look easy for this group to build personal brands, right? Probably not. Personal brands take time to build although the brands can be very quickly tarnished, if not managed well.
According to me, personal brandingis the art of differentiating yourself while making people around you successful in what they do. It is not about self-promotion or bloated egos. My life goal, for example, is to help organizations and individuals discover their ‘sweet-spot’ through effective communications. It means enabling and empowering people and entities become their best selves and institutions in fulfilling ways. By focusing on the ‘what’ – passion, proficiency and positioning while engaging on the ‘how’ – building expertise, adding value and reinventing yourself. Keen to know where you are in your journey as a personal brand? I created a simple model and a personal branding assessment which anyone can benefit from – for free.
Here are my top two tips for corporate and public relation professionals to build their personal brands.
– Focus on the other. Your personal brand gains when you are committed to making the world around you a better place. Be it sharing, listening, appreciating or learning. When you add value to others, you are contributing to your personal brand. This can be by mentoring and engaging the community, sharing thought leadership on relevant topics and pitching in to improve how the world around you works better.
– Be consistent: To build an authentic personal brand, you need to align what you say with what you do. Any mismatch will lead to erosion of credibility. From how you communicate to the approaches you take to engage with people; from the decisions you make to the worldview you adopt; from how you develop yourself and others around you to the actions you take to progress in your life – all of these add up and make a difference.
Each of us, like it or not, are already personal brands. Just that we probably don’t know enough about what our brand stands for or are unsure how to further strengthen and improve it.
In the public relations domain, according to me, the professional who has done a great job of personal branding isDr. Kevin Ruck (UK). I admire his consistent and phenomenal contribution to the world of public relations as a practitioner, lecturer and academician. He has built a strong brand for himself evolving from the corporate world to entrepreneurship and academics. I admire his deep expertise, especially in internal communications and for adding to body of knowledge on employee voice and employee engagement. He is simple, down-to-earth and a great mentor.
Outside the public relations field, the personality I look up to is Marshall Goldsmith, the American leadership coach and the author of several books on careers, life and professional development for his ability to evolve as a personal brand. His humility and his ability to connect with people makes him stand apart. I have followed his work and had the opportunity to attend one his lectures in Bengaluru.
For me, the one personal branding mistake to avoid is letting your ego become who you are. You do not need to be a wealthy celebrity with a public relations team to manage an image and build a personal brand. You can also build yours by staying grounded, building your worth and aligning your actions with your values.
How you shape your brand depends on the effort you put in and application you have in appreciating the world around you, understanding yourself, creating a thoughtful plan and consistently acting on your commitments – over time.