Personal branding – what is it and is it important?

We recently mentioned developing a personal brand in one of our articles. You may be tempted to think that in this current climate where demand for mining professionals exceeds supply, having a personal brand isn't important. However, you'd be wrong.

According to professional recruiters, personal branding is more important than ever!

What is a personal brand?

Think about the companies that stand out in your mind. They do so because they have developed a corporate brand that helps people identify, and remember, them and their products or services. A personal brand does the same thing. It defines 'who you are' in people's minds and sends a clear message about what you stand for and your core values. 

Why is it important to have one?

Furthermore, the way you express or communicate your values is also an important part of your personal brand. There may be hundreds of other individuals out there with similar values but if you've done your personal branding right, including communicating it correctly, you'll stand out from all those others. You'll have a unique identity that sets you apart.

In terms of your career, that's a significant asset. Your personal brand, now more than ever, can play an important role when it comes to communicating your value to potential employers. That's because an overwhelming 85% of recruitment managers say they're strongly influenced by a candidate's personal brand. It gives them a good indication of whether the person will be a good fit for the position they want to fill.

How can a personal brand work in your favour professionally?

A personal brand can be used to:
  • Establish your reputation
  • Highlight your strengths
  • Build trust in you both as an individual and as a professional
  • Communicate the qualities, preferably unique, that you are able to bring to the table, or to a potential employer

How does one develop a strong personal brand?

There are several fundamental principles to observe when developing a personal brand. These hold true regardless of industry, company, or position.

Focus on you.

Do your image, your voice and your presence convey what you believe in and stand for, privately and publicly? Your personal brand is all about you, so focus on you and what matters to you. If you're true to yourself and your beliefs, you'll come across to others as genuine and authentic as well. That matters a lot, both personally and professionally.

Do you have a clear voice? Is it focused, consistent, and easy to associate with you?

What is your online image like, including your profile photo?  We've already mentioned, several times, the importance of your online activities and social media persona. Nearly all recruiting managers these days check the social media profiles of applicants as part of the interview process. Do yours all dovetail with your personal brand? Do they reinforce the message you're trying to send out to the professional world and prospective employers? Do they, and the rest of your online activities, present a positive image of you? 

A quick tip – Google your name and see what pops up. That's exactly what a recruiting manager will see when they do the same thing, and they will! You can also set up a Google alert for your name so you can be alerted whenever anything new about you comes up. Obviously you should delete anything cringe worthy, or anything that doesn't align with your personal brand.

If you want personal profiles as well, make sure the settings on those accounts are set to private so potential employers and your professional contacts can't see them.

Marketing yourself 101

Determining what makes you you, and conducting a spring clean of your social media accounts are obviously important but they won't benefit you very much if you don't also market yourself. When you're spring-cleaning your social media accounts, don't be tempted by the idea that it may just be easier to delete them!

Social media accounts (on platforms relevant to your personal brand) provide an ideal opportunity to market yourself to prospective employers. People relate a lot more easily to people who are genuine and personable and one way to become that type of person is by being active on social media.
Participate in discussions relevant to your personal brand. Provide value to others. Remind everyone that you're human – an amusing anecdote about the family pet, or a 'this happened on my way to work this morning' is a great way get this message across without compromising your brand. Those selfies from Saturday's all-nighter on the other hand …. However, also remember to ensure that the bulk of your contributions and online activities are aligned to your overall personal brand.

You're probably thinking by now that developing a personal brand sounds like a lot of hard work! It is, and it isn't. Following are some tips and tricks that will help.

Work out who you are as a person. This is the only way you're going to ensure your personal brand is genuinely a reflection of who you truly are. Grab a piece of paper and a pen, or open up a blank spreadsheet, and start writing. List your personal strengths –

  • What sort of work are you good at?
  • What can you easily immerse yourself in and forget about passing time?
  • Conversely, is there any particular type of work that bores you senseless and/or sends you home drained of energy all the time?
  • What areas of your current job are you a recognised expert or leader in?
  • What roles do you tend to need help with?
  • What is your motivation for getting out of bed in the morning? And going to work?
  • What traits (personal and professional) do you get complimented on or about the most?

And so on.

As a follow up, ask friends, family and work colleagues to briefly describe you. If their descriptions tally with your list then you've nailed yourself fairly accurately. If not, go back and look at those questions again, and delve a bit deeper into your psyche because clearly how others see you is not how you see yourself!

Remember that your personal brand should grow and evolve as you do.

It's as much a reflection of where you are at the moment as it is a road map of where you want to go. Therefore, it's equally as important to figure out your strengths and weaknesses in relation to your future too. Think about where you want to be in 5 or 10 years – perhaps you're fascinated by the way technology is transforming mining and are keen to get more involved in this aspect of the industry.

What attributes and skills will you need to do that?

Sticking with technology – maybe you would eventually like to work for a software company that develops specialised mining equipment and programs. You believe your industry experience as a geologist / mining engineer / geophysicist etc will be invaluable in helping these companies develop equipment and programs that are relevant, effective, and user friendly. So you'd start tailoring your personal brand to suit. Join social media platforms that are relevant to those businesses. Participate in online discussions. Provide value. Walk the talk.

Who are the industry experts, notably the thought leaders?

Who are the influencers and shapers you need to reach? ​ Find out, research them, and follow them. Learn how they operate. How did they become 'names'? They may have personal blogs/websites where they put out their thoughts and idea, or they may simply be extremely active in online forums and discussions. Be like them….only aim to be better! You want to be the one aspiring wannabes look up to, and research!

Reach out to these experts for help, and at the same time bring yourself to their attention.

Ask them if they'd mind helping you learn more about the industry. They will be able to give you valuable pointers on staying abreast of developments and trends, and discuss how they see the industry evolving, which is relevant for your ambitions. You can also ask them for recommendations about professional and industry associations to join.

At the same time, you're forming a valuable link in the industry. If these experts are hiring at any time for example, or are asked for recommendations about potential hires, you will have brought yourself into their orbit.

It's a combination of what you know and who you know.

In other words, network, network, network. This one is so important we wrote an entire article on it! The majority of positions are filled via networking and nothing builds your personal brand better or faster than networking. The more you network effectively, the bigger your circle of contacts gets, and the more chances you have to build your brand. You can network via social media but it's even more effective to attend industry functions, then follow up with connections via social media.

Have an elevator pitch ready to pitch.

Work out a short succinct story about yourself ready for when you're attending networking events, parties and the like. It should describe what you do and where you're going very concisely. Pick a few key points that display your most relevant qualities in the right way.

Come highly recommended.

Ask your colleagues and managers to endorse you. In so doing, they're communicating your value and thus your personal brand. Companies use customer feed-back and reviews all the time to help build their brand.

And remember that building a successful personal brand is also about how you conduct yourself in general. To paraphrase a wise old sage 'Live the person you want to become.' Your everyday interactions, and actions, combined with your online activities, will build your personal brand.