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What is personal branding and why is it so important?

Did you know one of the most important assets you can have in today’s corporate world is a great personal brand?

The world of work is changing rapidly and one of the biggest changes is that organisations and businesses now have access to global talent pools. As individuals, our competition is only getting wider and our qualifications and years of experience have become a commodity.

You've heard of business branding and the role it plays in commercial success, but you may not be aware of the emerging importance of your personal brand as an asset to your corporate reputation.

What is a personal brand?

Personal branding refers to how you promote or market yourself as an individual, both in and out of the workplace.

There's a quote from Amazon founder, Jeff Bezos that sums this up perfectly: "your brand is what people say about you when you're not in the room."

It's your reputation and, as branding expert Gary Vaynerchuk says, "your reputation in perpetuity [forever] is the foundation of your career." In other words, what people think about you, based on your words and actions, can make or break your future career. Positive or negative, what you do makes an impression that can last forever.

If we apply the notion that it's not what you know, it's also who you know, your personal brand bolsters the skills and qualifications you have on paper with a positive impression of who you are as a person. Indeed, you can see why it's so important to build a strong personal brand.

In regards to our careers, we never know when we're going to meet the person who's going to give us the next leg up in our careers. When we cultivate a strong personal brand, we're giving ourselves an advantage (even when we might not know it) over our competition.

What is the easiest way to build a personal brand?

The easiest way to build your personal brand is to cultivate kindness, do good to those around you and treat every person you meet with respect.

CEO and Entrepreneur Steven Bartlett tells a story about how one of his employee's got her promotion because of her strong personal brand.

"When we're thinking about who to make the next managing director or who we could trust to lead New York City or another country around the world... In that moment, it's the small, tiny things that appeared in conversations about how someone had behaved and how they'd acted that made all the difference.

And those people will never know what they did to make that impression. They'll never know that Jenny, when I was in New York City getting a text message saying she'd run to the shops because Tom had fallen over and she'd gotten him a plaster, was one of the reasons she got the promotion three years later.

It's like invisible reputation, you don't know you're building it, but you're building it on every single touch point you have with every single person.

Every single person in here, including myself, has an invisible reputation, which is working for or against you, and it's based on these small decisions you make."

What are the best ways to build my personal brand online?

We're all using social media, including to make career connections. Instagram, LinkedIn, TikTok, they all play a role in our personal brand. Let's be honest, we've all looked someone up online before meeting them — especially if they're going to be interviewing us for a job or sharing a a desk with us!

Our tips for building your personal brand on social media:

  • Get clear on your brand, in the same way you would if you were doing it for business. What's your vision statement? What are your values? Use them to inform how to communicate online.
  • Take inspiration from people you admire and use their example to leverage how you build your personal brand online.
  • Connect with people. Use comments, direct messaging and stories to create community that uplifts and encourages the people you interact with online.

What are the best personal branding tips?

In this case, we think you only need one tip. And it's the best and most important personal branding tip we think we can give you.

Make sure every person you interact with leaves better: having a better day, feeling better about themselves and their skills, having learned something that makes them smarter or more skilled. Leave people better than how you found them.

Maya Angelou said, “I've learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”

Where should I start with creating a strong personal brand?

As a leader, you can have all the practical skills, but in today's corporate climate, having strategic and visionary personal skills is more important than ever.

TAFE Queensland's range of advanced business and management qualifications give you the opportunity to grow those practical skills while blending lessons on expanding your strategic skills.