Personal branding is about having clarity on who you are, what you do and why you do what you do. To achieve that clarity, many do need to make a mindset shift at the beginning of their personal branding journey. And this part is the most challenging.
I’ve recently talked to 7-10 people about how they could use LinkedIn to build a powerful personal brand that attracts career and business opportunities.
Talking to each of them reminded me of how I was when I started my personal branding journey on LinkedIn and made me realize one thing:
Our journey to creating a strong personal brand requires a shift in our mindset. Unless we take that shift, we can’t truly build an authentic and powerful personal brand.
I noticed some common patterns during our conversations:
All of those that I’ve talked to are so busy that they have no time to examine their careers and reflect on what they do right and what exactly they are great at.
When you’re in the corporate world or when you’re working in your business rather than on your business, it’s easy to fall trap on a treadmill lifestyle.
You work hard today, do your best, then go home at the end of the day. The next day, you’ll simply repeat. You still work hard, do your best, then leave the office.
Before you know it, a year or two had passed. Nothing happened to your career.
I was guilty of this lifestyle, too. I taught college students for 11+ years. As a teacher and program chair, my job didn’t end in the campus.
I used to bring a lot of paper works at home or I stayed in the office long after everybody had left the faculty room. I saw my students graduate, have their own families and become professionals.
But when I looked at how far I’ve gone in terms of my own career, I realized, that wasn’t where I really wanted to be. I love teaching, yes, but professional development is very important to me, and that’s the part I thought I was not doing well.
And so I left the academe and took the risk of being a full-time freelancer. I was glad I took the leap, but looking back, I thought, probably, it wasn’t career change that I needed back then, but a shift in my own mindset.
Going back to the conversations I had, half of them didn’t realize that their job roles through the years were related.
One of them has been working for around 15 years and due to changes in employer and industry, she thought that what she had been doing had nothing to do with each other.
But when we took a closer look at her CV, we found two common themes that wrap up her entire 15 years in the workplace: sales and marketing. She was doing a great job, as evidenced by her previous awards.
From that point, we decided to position herself as an award-winning sales & marketing professional with a comprehensive experience in the healthcare industry.
Personal Branding Tips: Try to distance yourself from your existing self-concept. Do an audit of your own career. Put down on paper all your roles, projects and accomplishments through the years. Look at it from a macro perspective but pay attention to details. Spot what’s common — that will give you an idea of what you do BEST. Once you’ve found that, use it as your positioning. And watch what happens.
When I asked them what they do, they tell me their job descriptions and roles, e.g., I recruit people to join the company, I set an appointment for my boss, etc. So I had to rephrase the question to get the answers I was looking for.
I wanted them to let me know what value they bring to their clients or customers or to the company they work for. One of them, also a former teacher who now works from home as a recruiter, said:
“Basta lahat ng ginagawa ko ngayon, iba sa dati kong ginagawa. Saka noon, nagtuturo lang ako online.” (Everything that I do now is different from what I used to do in my previous job. Before, I was just teaching online.)
As a former teacher myself, I told her she needed to shift her mindset if she would like to build her personal brand. To say that she was “just teaching online” suggested that she didn’t see much value in what she used to do.
What I told her wasn’t new. But sometimes, we don’t need novel ideas. We just need to be reminded of what we already know to redirect our thinking.
For sure she had heard this many, many times in her life — that teaching is a noble job, and that by teaching, we are empowering our students to accomplish their own career goals and become successful professionals.
It’s very simple. If you do not understand the value that you bring to the table, chances are, no one else will know your value. I always remember these phrases from Lisa Nichols on ‘The Secret’:
No one else can dance your dance, no one else can sing your song, no one else can write your story. Who you are, what you do, begins right now! -Lisa Nichols
A simple tweak in the phrases you use, i.e., from ” I do…” to ” I help…” could do the trick. Try to get into the habit of focusing on the benefits you bring, not on the tasks you check in your to-do list.
This could require a huge mindset shift. Knowing your value and communicating your true value are keys to getting paid your worth. On her TED Talk, Casey Brown, a pricing consultant, shares how knowing your worth and communicating your value can help build your self-confidence.
Personal Branding Tips: If you find it hard to look at the value you offer from your point of view, go ask your clients or your manager. If you’re a recruiter, how has bringing the right people to the organization helped the company achieve its goals? If you’re a lead generation specialist, how much revenue did the company obtain from the qualified leads you generated?
Many of those I’ve talked to are serious about getting themselves out there and build a name for themselves. But there’s another roadblock. They’re “afraid” that the people who have known them would judge them.
However, what I’ve learned is that people are not thinking about you because they’re busy thinking about themselves.
So as long as you’re building an authentic personal brand, you shouldn’t even think about them. If they care about you, they will be happy for you!
As what Bernard Baruch said:
Be who you are and say what you feel, because those who mind don’t matter and those who matter don’t mind. -Bernard Baruch
Personal Branding Tips: If you find yourself thinking about what others will say about you once you start building your personal brand, that’s your mind talking to you. You can choose to ignore it or let it hold you back for the rest of your life. Why not try realigning your thoughts with your goals and start building a career you want for yourself? Create your own success.
So let me pull those three ideas together and turn them into key takeaways to guide you as you contemplate building a powerful personal brand on LinkedIn:
I hope this article helps you recalibrate the way you look at your career yesterday, today and in the future. It’s never too late to build your own success.
Start with a shift in your mindset and you’ll be on your way to building a powerful personal brand that can take your career to much greater heights!