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CAREER DEVELOPMENT / DEC. 18, 2016
version 7, draft 7

A Guide to Identifying Your Personal Brand

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If you are interested in making it in the cut-throat corporate world, then you should know that it will require a lot of dedication. Professionals - no matter how great they are at their job - don’t simply get promoted. On the contrary, they need to actively pursue more responsibilities and show great initiative to grow professionally, but these are not the only things that matter. An individual interested in developing their career should also build their personal brand as this can help set them apart from the competition.

Your personal brand is basically your reputation; it’s how other people perceive you and if you want to get on your boss’s good side, it’s important to improve it. Building your personal brand will help you create a more memorable experience that can make or break your career development.

But, you should note that building your personal brand can be a rather complex process that requires proper planning. The first step is to identify your personal brand; this includes acknowledging all your strengths and weaknesses and recognising everything you can do to improve your employee profile. You can read everything you need to know about the whole process in this comprehensive career development guide. But first take a look at this simple three step guide on how to identify your brand.

Step 1: Identify Your Strengths

The foundation to any solid personal branding strategy is to find your strengths. Understanding what these are will help you brand in a way that will allow you to achieve your career goals.

Of course, recognising them is not always easy. Self-perception is not everyone’s strongest suit but with the help of the questions below you’ll be able to identify them in a relatively stress-free manner.

Questions to Ask Yourself

What was the most successful project you’ve ever been part of and what made you successful?

It’s important for your brand to rely on your achievements as these are evidence of what you can achieve in the future. As such, the first order of business is to think of your biggest success to date so take a look at everything you’ve done so far. Also, retrace your steps and decide on what made you so successful.

What do you do when there are obstacles along the way?

Most of us have a go-to strategy when things are tough; perhaps you can find creative solutions to problems, or maybe you can break tasks into more manageable pieces. Whatever it is, this skill is a strength that you need to identify and present yourself as the master of it.

What trait makes you attractive to others when they are in need of assistance?

Sometimes, to identify your strengths you need to consider what others see in you, so it’s important to assess the behaviour of others towards you to understand what skill of yours they value the most. Maybe it’s your organisational skills, or maybe it’s your ability to see the bigger picture at all times.

Which of your traits do you like the most?

It’s important to keep ourselves happy, and this includes recognising what we enjoy doing at work. The more we enjoy doing something, the better are the chances that we’ll be great at it. So take a careful look at all your work tasks and think of the skills you use to complete those tasks, what skill is that you enjoy using the most?

Ask for Feedback

Self-assessment is a crucial part of establishing your personal branding strategy, but it’s not the only thing that matters. In fact, getting others to take a look at what you believe are your strengths will go a long way to making you more realistic.

Jot down the answers to the questions above and have a few people you trust and value take a look. Ask colleagues, and if possible your manager, for their feedback as they are the only ones who really know how you perform at work and their feedback will be more objective.

Showcase Your Strengths

The whole idea behind identifying your skills is so that you can showcase them. This means that they should be placed in prominent positions in everything that relates to your professional profile. It’s important to include them in your CV and elevator pitch if you are considering changing jobs, while you should also make sure to include them on your professional online profiles, as well as on your website.

Apart from showcasing your skills, however, you should also seek opportunities to maximise them. It’s important to put them to use so make sure that if your workplace does not offer you any opportunities, you look into other options such as volunteering.

Step 2: Identify Your Weaknesses

As important as your strengths are, it’s just as important to recognise your weaknesses and come up with strategies to eliminate them. The problem is that weaknesses are much harder to pinpoint and harder to get rid of.

But, if you want to achieve your career goals then you need to work on your weaknesses and find ways with to use them to your benefit. Much like with personal strengths, to identify them you need to conduct a self-assessment session and below you’ll find questions that will help you do that.

Questions That Will Help You Spot Them

What roles do you avoid when working in a team?

The first step to identifying your weaknesses is to recognise things that you are either scared of doing or things that you simply hate and can’t be bothered to do. For example, if you always avoid taking on roles coordinating teams or that have a lot of responsibility, you need to reconsider your methods as being able to take initiative is essential for any managerial position.

What makes you quit or give up in the face of difficulties?

No one likes to be a failure, yet inevitably most of us are from time to time. You should focus on pinpointing that one thing that always makes you feel like giving up and figuring out ways to get over it.

What weaknesses do you find most annoying in others?

Sometimes we project our weaknesses on others and fail to recognise them as our own, so think of things that your colleagues do that you find annoying and ask yourself if you might have those same weaknesses. Perhaps someone’s annoying habit of wanting to impose their power actually has more to do with your inability to work well under someone else’s orders.

Ask for the Opinion of Others

Although no one wants to hear that they are less than perfect, especially from their boss or colleagues, this is an essential step as it will allow you to get over your weaknesses and create a stronger personal brand.  

Be specific about your questions; for example, if you are asking your boss for feedback, don’t hesitate to ask them if they ever avoided including you on a project because of a particular weakness. Also, make sure to compare notes and see if they have included any weaknesses that you haven’t.

Implement Strategies to Minimise Your Weaknesses

Of course, to make this process worthwhile you need to figure out ways to improve yourself, and this means that you need to come up with ways to overcome them. So, your first step should be to focus on those weaknesses that hold you back from your career goals. What can you do to stop them from getting in your way? Sometimes it’s enough just to recognise them to fight them, but there are times when you’ll be required to take measures to conquer them.

You shouldn’t be afraid to take on challenges that will allow you to improve, but if you aren’t quite sure on how to go about overcoming your weaknesses, you might want to consider hiring a career coach as they’ll be able to help you build effective strategies.

Step 3: Incorporate Your Passions

It’s important for your brand to incorporate your passions as the only way to achieve professional success is by ensuring that you are genuinely interested in pursuing your goals. This means that you shouldn’t aim for a managerial position for example simply because it’s the ultimate level of career success in your profession, nor should your brand be orientated towards that goal if it’s not something that is meaningful to you.

Your brand should reflect your true wants, and this is why you need to figure out ways to incorporate your passions. The first step is to identify your passions and figure out how they relate to your work environment. If for example, you are interested in extreme sports, there’s a good chance that you are a risk-taker in general and thus are not afraid to implement new strategies or methods in your work. If on the other hand, you enjoy arts and crafts, there’s a good chance you are someone who’s very creative, and this could allow you to create a role that lets you put your creativity forth to increase profits.

How you incorporate your passions into your work will depend heavily on your strengths and weaknesses. So, don’t hesitate to take the time you need to identify your passions, how they relate to your job and whether they are in line with your strengths and goals.

 

Identifying your brand is a three part process that has to do with identifying your strengths and weaknesses, as well as finding ways to incorporate your passions into your work. Of course, your personal branding strategy should also reflect your values as these are the core of your professional existence.

You should know that building your brand is a rather long process that also includes identifying your target audience, finding ways to cater to their needs and figuring out how to make yourself more visible.

If you have any other questions relating to how to identify your personal brand, please let us know in the comment section below, and we’ll be happy to provide you with suggestions!

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