Over the last two months, most of our lives have changed dramatically. The World Health Organisation declared COVID-19 as a pandemic, but it is much more than a public health problem. It is also an economic one that affects billions of individuals around the globe and has far-reaching implications for the way people live and work across Europe and the globe.
It is also clear that the consequences of COVID-19 will remain visible for years to come. Certain trends in the business and job market are already apparent, such as decreasing employment, and thus higher competition, an increasing work-from-home culture and digital transformation.
While the argument for personal branding has been booming way before the pandemic, today its importance has never been this evident. Seth Godin once said that marketing is a contest for people’s attention. The same could be said about personal branding. Even though every individual has a personal brand, not everyone’s personal brand is strong in the eyes of their target audience.
The following are insights into personal branding challenges and ways we can leverage our personal brands in our business and career.
Tougher competition in the job market
Relevant for: job seekers
The COVID-19 lockdown has caused the loss of jobs every day and the recovery forecasts are not optimistic. While the job market will pick up at some point in the future, this will take time. Meanwhile, the number of job seekers has increased dramatically and thus the need to stand out from the competition is crucial. So, while your personal brand is about who you are, what you have to offer, and what you are known for, it is worth putting in more effort to strengthen it.
What can you do?
If you are a job seeker possibly affected by the COVID-19 fall-out, first of all, make sure you understand your next career path. Are you willing to find a job in the same industry or is there another field that seems more appropriate at this time? Once you’ve figured it out, have all the relevant information at hand. Not only put effort into improving your CV, but also work on your LinkedIn profile and other social media. You never know which potential employers might discover you online, and be impressed by the way you come across. Job seekers who are able to make a good first impression are sure to win.
Thought leadership opportunities online
Relevant for: executives, entrepreneurs and other professionals
While the pandemic was bad news, one good thing was it identified individuals who were able to spread the right messages online. While many personal brands that have been actively and professionally communicating all along, there has been a marked rise in the number of executives sharing their opinions and insights during COVID-19. Unfortunately, the vast majority are still struggling to strategically position their personal branding in order to drive visible results – in most cases, this is the result of not having enough time, skills or professional help.
What can you do?
If you are an executive or entrepreneur, or are willing to leverage your personal brand to raise awareness of your company, campaign, product or message, the first thing is to understand how you want to position yourself. What’s the target audience you want to speak to? What do you know about that target audience in terms of its demographics, psychographics and behaviour? Your personal (and organizational) goals and positioning should be understood first. Then you can think about the right channels and content to spread your message. If you are an executive, it’s most likely you would want to use the opportunities provided by LinkedIn.
But having a nice profile isn’t enough. Your content is key when attracting the attention of your target audience. While there are plenty of topics you can share, the most crucial part is to make them relevant to the audience. Executives who are able to deliver valuable content will win the contest for people’s attention and will possibly be perceived as thought leaders.
Helping your organization sell
Relevant for: professionals willing to help their organizations raise awareness online
Research shows that messages by individuals are trusted a lot more than corporate messages. Not only are they trusted more, they are also able to reach a wider audience, particularly on such social networks as LinkedIn. In the midst of the pandemic (and any crisis for that matter), each employee can be a valuable resource for the company when it comes to promoting organizational values, raising awareness about its products, services or any other relevant information as well as simply helping the company stay afloat and acquire new customers.
What can you do?
While each employee can contribute in his or her own way, employee advocacy will add value to the organization if the efforts are united. This means primarily that universal guidelines will have to be crafted. In this way employees will be aware of the goals, tools and other guidelines on how to leverage social media through their personal branding efforts.
The list of individuals who need personal branding more than ever today could include such groups as politicians, freelancers or students, who will soon be in the job market. One thing is clear. Personal brand matters and, if you haven’t yet thought about strengthening your brand, now is the time.