10 Daily: Why Building Your ‘Personal Brand’ is the Key to Career Success

In this article featured in 10 Daily, Michelle offers her insight on what we mean when we say ‘personal brand’ and the impact your ‘personal brand’ can have in the workplace.

What do these people have in common: Waleed Aly, Michelle Obama and P!nk?

Answer: they are all successful, powerful and well-known — and they all have a strong, unique and unforgettable personal brand.

So, what exactly do we mean when we say “personal brand”?

“Your personal brand is essentially what springs to mind when people think about you,” leadership and career expert Michelle Gibbings told 10 daily.

To put it simply, it’s what you as a person are known for. It’s made up of a combo of what you say and do and how you make other people feel.

Former FLOTUS Obama, for example, is known for her intelligence, compassion and leadership qualities. Pop star P!nk is outspoken, fearless and passionate. Australia’s own Waleed Aly, co-host on The Project, has built his brand on being knowledgable, diplomatic and authoritative.

In Gibbings’ opinion, Obama, P!nk and Aly have strong, positive personal brands because they are consistent and clear about who they are and what they stand for, and they are prepared to take a stand on issues that matter.

Not every one of us can be a world leader or a hit-making singer — so why should we care about our own personal brand?

Well, it can be key to helping us progress up the career ladder.

Imagine you’re keen on getting that promotion at work. You’ve put in the hard work, you’ve expressed your interest and it’s almost time for your boss to make their choice.

You might think you’re a shoo-in but according to Gibbings the final decision often comes down to the candidate’s personal brand and whether it ‘fits’ with the role available.

“The challenge arises when what you are known for doesn’t align with what you’d like to be known for,” Gibbings explained.

For example, if you’d like to be seen as a visionary leader who can rebuild teams but in reality you are seen as the technical expert then there is what Gibbings calls a “mismatch in expectations”.

In many cases, a “mismatch” means you end up missing out on the job.

“If the people around you, who are in relevant decision-making roles, don’t see you in the way you want to be seen you won’t get the role, promotion, job assignment or whatever it is you are striving to secure,” Gibbings said.

Building your own personal brand

The great thing is your personal brand is your own creation and you can tailor to your own needs.

If you want to build a good one — and let’s face it, no one wants a bad one — Gibbings encourages you to start by doing one thing: owning your reputation.

First, you can actively seek to understand how others see you — this, in turn, will help you understand how you see yourself.

Keeping the mirror on yourself, try to identify any gaps between your desired reputation and your actual reputation. Once you know where there’s room for improvement then you can work on consciously constructing a reputation that works for you in the long term by being positively and sustainably developed.

It’s important to be aware of the difference between your private and professional personal brand and how these can blur — sometimes to your detriment.

It seems that our obsession with Instagram, Facebook and live-blogging our every thought is the problem.

“Before the advent of social media, it was easier to keep personal and professional brands as distinct and separate from each other,” Gibbings explained.

“Today, that’s less the case. For example, what you post on social media in your personal life, impacts how you are seen professionally,” she said.

So before you post that comment or photo to Insta, pause and consider how it aligns — or doesn’t align — with the personal brand you want your boss or workmates to see.

Remember that maintaining a positive and progressive reputation requires work, every day — and most of all, don’t take your reputation for granted.