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Personal Branding 101

Personal Branding 101

By Sallie Krawcheck

This article originally appears on Linkedin

The topic of “personal branding” is an uncomfortable one for many of us: “Me? A personal brand? That’s not what I’m about.” Or “A personal brand? Me? I’m not a branding person….or a social media person.” Or “Me? I don’t like to talk about myself; I prefer to let my work speak for itself.”(1)

But just so we’re all clear: we all have a personal brand, whether we want one or not, whether we like it or not. Either you can shape it, or you can have someone else define it for you.

But….before defining your personal brand comes defining your professional mission. This can be the really hard part. What matters to you? What are you trying to accomplish? Why do you do it? Without understanding what matters to you, it’s hard to craft a brand.

Make sure it rings true. “My specialty is to turn consumer businesses around” really only works if you’re actually good at turning consumer businesses around, and have the facts to prove it. So test your brand with your “personal board of directors” and get their feedback on it.….and on yourself and your work performance. This is the only way to make sure you’re on target. (Special note: we women receive less feedback at work than the gentlemen do, so we need to ask for that feedback more often.)

Once you’ve defined your personal brand, just say it! “My specialty is to turn consumer businesses around.” “I’m an expert in sticky compliance issues.” If it resonates, others will begin to say it about you as well. What doesn’t work well: “I’m good at a lot of things.”

Say it in a story. People remember stories much better than they remember bullet points or statistics. What were the challenges of the businesses you turned around? How did you and your team tackle them? What were the keys to the turnaround?

What if your personal brand is not what you think it is, or would like it to be?Bridge that gap by gaining experience in new areas, accentuating certain expertise, or describing your work history with a different slant.

Own your mistakes and failures. They make up part of your experience, so make them part of your brand. What did you learn from your stumbles? How did they make you better at what you do? You might want to ignore the tougher times, but leaving them out could mean your brand lacks some credibility.

Use social media to shape your brand (if it’s appropriate for your job). Boy, can this be powerful. Write or tweet about a handful of things that define your interests and expertise. Do not engage in everything under the sun that you find to be of interest.

It’s ok for your personal brand to shift as you gather experiences. And it should. It’s a constant work in progress.

(1) I’m pretty uncomfortable with it too. And I’m no personal branding expert. This post is based on an Ellevate Network event on “Personal Branding 101,” co-hosted with our friends at More Magazine. The panel featured Kelly Watson, Managing Partner, KPMG; Claudia Chan, CEO and Founder, SHE Global Media; and Lazetta Braxton, Founder, Financial Fountains.

Sallie Krawcheck is the Chair of Ellevate Network and Ellevate Asset Management. Ellevate Network (formerly 85 Broads) is a global professional women’s network, operating across industries and around the world. Both businesses are committed to the full economic and financial engagement of women.

(Photo: Walid Mahfoudh, Flickr)

Have more questions? Follow up with the expert herself.


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Nicole Normand

Defining your professional mission is best exercise anyone can do as it will help create and attract new opportunities aligned with you passion and purpose!

October 23, 2017

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