The power of creating your own personal brand

08 August 2019 Christelle Colman, Managing Director at Elite Risk Acceptances
Christelle Colman, Managing Director at Elite Risk Acceptances

Christelle Colman, Managing Director at Elite Risk Acceptances

Building a personal brand is one of the most important things you can do to set yourself apart from the rest of the pack.

We are living in a highly competitive world where jobs, especially good jobs, are hard to come by. South Africa’s unemployment rate for the first quarter of the year soared to its highest level since 2017 and is now sitting at 29%. Of that, 6.7-million people are unemployed in South Africa, which is 29% of everybody who could be working - that is reason enough to distinguish yourself from everyone else vying for the same job as you – wouldn’t you agree?

Your personal brand is the essence of what stays behind long after you’ve left a room. It’s a culmination of your life experiences, your unique character, your ethical standards, your values and your personality. But it’s how well you communicate this brand to the world that will ultimately differentiate you from other professionals – this is particularly important for women.

The truth is, it really isn’t that difficult and it doesn’t have to cost much either, so you’ve got nothing to lose and everything to gain.

If you want to stand out from the crowd, you have to do things differently in order to show your value in innovative ways. Building a strong personal brand is doing just that – because your brand makes you influential and if you are influential, you are hard to ignore and even harder to turn away.

Building a personal brand comes down to one thing: putting yourself out there. Use whichever tools are available to you. If you are in a position to educate people on a topic, that’s where you start. Share your expertise by putting yourself forward as a spokesperson within your company. Traditional media platforms like newspapers, television and radio are wonderful platforms for raising your professional profile.

Nowadays, we also have social media. It doesn’t cost a thing and you are able to share your views and opinions on any topic that interests you with the world. Over-and-above being a platform to voice your opinion, social media can be a catalyst into traditional media exposure, and may even attract future employers, business associates or stakeholders.

That being said, you have to be careful with the image that you are creating of yourself and if you want to use your personal brand for professional gain, you can’t be reckless with what you post on social media.

My top five tips for building a personal brand are:

1. Think of building a personal brand as a marathon, not a sprint

• Your personal brand will grow with you and be refined over time.
• Your brand should remain consistent with who you are as you mature.

2. Maintain your personal brand

• Handle with care!
• Your personal brand, which takes time to build, can be ruined in a moment through one public blunder. Everything you say in the media, write on a blog or share on social media, adds a little building block to your growing personal brand.

3. Uphold a level of professionalism

• Keep your private life private – at least to a degree
• Avoid potentially controversial political and religious comments and emotional outbursts

4. Keep it real

• The most important aspect of personal brand building is authenticity
• Sharing well-curated personal information from time to time can help to create a meaningful brand that people can connect with

5. Your voice, your power

• Once a strong personal brand has been established – in addition to distinguishing yourself professionally – use your voice to talk about challenges that you have faced in business and in life as well as how you have overcome them

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