Having a strong personal brand is the most crucial career asset you can have, and like most assets, investing in it is essential to continue providing value for you. Many professionals who are serious about their careers are feeling a significant amount of pressure; building their brands seems burdensome to them. It’s even more hassle for small business owners and solopreneurs who have been flat out all year just getting the work done.
Many leaders and their team contributors are feeling stressed globally. According to Gallup, up to 35% of people in organisations are experiencing burnout, with managers ranking at the highest end. Right up there with small business owners. Adding another item to your To-do list seems just enough to send you over the edge.
But personal branding is not the same as working hard.
Achieving a personal brand goal is a celebration of your individuality and the value you provide when you bring your best self to work or your business every day.
The article that launched the personal branding movement was published 25 years ago this year in Fast Company magazine, so it’s no longer a new concept. But why am I pushing for you to address your personal brand shortfalls before the end of 2022?
There’s a global downturn on the way
All the indications are that the US is heading for the kind of economic strife that is already plaguing Europe, China and even parts of Africa. And while here in the Asia-Pacific region, we seem to keep avoiding the worst of these downturns.
For those of us who are freelancers, solopreneurs and sole traders, it means things are going to get tighter as businesses and individuals are going to have less to spend on the boutique things that we do.
We’ve already experienced a bit of this as a result of increased mortgage interest rates and higher prices at both the supermarket and the petrol station.
Get ready for more of that.
A strong personal brand won’t just be a nice-to-have, it will be a vital tool in your marketing toolbelt that will help you to stand out in a crowded market of people doing what you do.
Standing out is important because you don’t want to be stuck in the downward spiral of having to compete for work based on price.
Not everyone will be affected by this downturn, and those who aren’t will still be shopping by their perception of quality. Your personal brand is the best way to express quality to them.
Downtime is the perfect time to test stuff out
You’re probably not going to get time to do anything about your personal brand during the week. Or the coming weekend. Or at any time before the end-of-year break.
I usually encourage my clients to make their personal branding a part of their regular activities at work. Weave in a photo here or a blog post there, along with a social post later on. Ultimately, your “real work” should not be split into two separate activities but rather should be integrated with your personal branding activities. I prefer my clients not to separate their personal branding from their “real work” but rather look at their daily schedules and ask how they can incorporate their brand into those activities, so they get to make an impact or leave a mark in everything they do.
Realistically, this isn’t going to happen in the rush to get a tonne of work done before Christmas.
Right now, though, is the time to do small planning work towards your personal brand.
Things like working out your values based upon the kind of person you are on your good and bad days.
Or identifying what topics you want to be known for.
None of these takes long, and they don’t involve carving out time to write social posts or blogs. Or taking half a day to get photos taken.
In addition, photographers and other creatives don’t get much work once the Christmas parties are over. The gap between December 15 and January 15 is horrid for their cash flow, so you’ll get a very happy photographer who’s not booked out over the Christmas and New Year period.
And there’s also the fact that the traditionally dead period over December and January is very quiet on professional platforms, so you’re able to test out ideas and concepts with a smaller audience who are also seeing a smaller amount of content in that time.
So you’re limiting how many people may see those early missteps – but also getting in front of more people that are not normally part of your audience. This is particularly true of LinkedIn.
The Bottom Line
November is a great time to start making the small decisions you need to have sorted before you begin writing posts, taking photos and making videos. Each task towards building a personal brand is relatively small and can be completed quickly.
My own personal branding mini-course is something you can do in around 20 minutes a week – and over that five weeks of the course, you will be prepared for the bigger work that you can get done over the Christmas break.
This way you can return in January with a full personal brand strategy in place and time to do produce the content and do the real work of weaving your new personal brand into your everyday work.
Dante St James is the founder of Clickstarter, a Meta Certified Lead Trainer, a Community Trainer with Meta Australia, a digital advisor with Business Station, an accredited Digital Solutions advisor and presenter, and the editor at The Small Marketer. You can watch free 1-hour webinars and grow your digital skills at Dante’s YouTube Channel.
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