It has been stated many times that you’ll never get a second chance at a first impression. That saying is undoubtedly true. However, what comes after your first impression is arguably just as important, and will be so for the remainder of your career; your personal brand.
This is incredibly important throughout any career journey… especially for interns and employees on their first jobs out of college. It takes years to build a strong personal brand but can also vanish in a day. Here are my top five ways to build an excellent personal brand that will last for decades.
1. Define Your Ideal Personal Brand
How do you want your colleagues, clients, and associates to perceive you? What specific words do you want them to use when they describe you to others? Be clear about what your ideal is, and then take the necessary steps to become who you want to be fully.
2. Master the Art of Habitually Adding Value
Your company hired you specifically for a reason. Whether it’s for an internship or a more permanent role, they want you to bring elements to their brand that only you can facilitate in your customized way. Regardless of what position you have, there is a tremendous opportunity to build a strong personal brand foundation that includes the specific value you add to your company. Always know what the needs are for your employers, then figure out a way to be the solution or an integral part of it. In addition, cultivating solid business acumen for your respective company, and industry will serve you well on how to add value consistently. Having this quality included in your personal brand will likely lead to a plethora opportunities for growth both internally and externally.
3. Be a Voracious and Ongoing Learner
Having the mental posture of someone who is always looking to learn is an invaluable trait to add to your personal brand. Whether it’s finding mentors to teach you the wisdom they have, taking full advantage of internal seminars, or studying the things to avoid doing, learning will help keep you sharp for excellence in your craft.
4. Communicate with Clarity and Excellence
Communication is arguably the most critical element in a myriad of subjects. In regards to building a strong personal brand, it proves to be essential as well. Excellence in both verbal and written daily communication will always be an asset to your company. Have a plan to communicate to the best of your ability in every meeting, presentations you give, social interactions, and the content you write; emails included. You don’t have to speak with the eloquence of a 4-time state champion in speech. The intentional focus on clear and effective communication should be the primary goal. If you want to eventually be in a leadership role within your company, this will be paramount. Also, non-verbal communication speaks loudly as well. Be sure to implement the expressions and mannerisms that align with your ideal personal brand on a consistent basis.
5. Be Digitally Aware
Social Media is an amazing tool for a plethora of reasons. However, if utilized unwisely, it can significantly damage your personal brand. In some cases, it can be irreparable. You are being watched and digitally archived for better or worse. Are you posting content of a person who companies would love to hire and represent them? Do you share other posts that could be a misrepresentation of your personal brand? It’s not hard to Google Search the numerous social media mishaps that have resulted in jobs lost. That being said, be a living and breathing human being. Social media is amazing at showcasing life lived in action. Just be intentional with your digital consciousness. It will most likely affect your career at every stage. Just ask any human resources professional.
Bonus Tip: Do a Routine Personal Brand Check
At least a couple times per year, speak with people both inside and outside your office on what your perceived personal brand is. If you’re an intern, rely on your fellow classmates, current professors, and friends for insights. We all have a reputation. The opportunity to intentionally design it to the best of our ability is one many fail to implement.