Personal Branding Step 1: Get to Know Yourself
As Aristotle famously said: “Knowing yourself is the beginning of all wisdom.”
If you want to build a personal brand that works for you and your dreams, you need to first know who you are. This can be a difficult and uncomfortable conversation to have with ourselves, since many of us try and “rebrand” ourselves as someone else throughout our lives. It’s important to remember there is only one you in the world, and that’s something to embrace.
We all have strengths and weaknesses. Trying to bury or ignore the weaknesses will make you weaker in the end. Rather, get to know yourself, what you are good at, what you are bad at, and what you like to do with your time. Here are some questions you can ask yourself:
- What motivates me?
- What drains my energy?
- What do I have a hard time doing?
- What kind of work am I good at?
- What kind of work am I bad at?
- What kind of projects take me way too long to complete?
- What are my passions?
If it’s hard for you to answer these questions, ask your closest friends and family what they would say. Sometimes, a third-party perspective can help us see ourselves with more clarity. We can build up mental roadblocks or barriers over time when in reality, we fail to realize what actually makes us happy.
What Are Your Values and Passions?
Your values are the things that you believe to be important in your life. They are at the core of who you are and what you prioritize on a daily basis. This can include honesty, loyalty, family, selflessness, community, etc. When it comes down to hard decisions and adversity, we always fall back on our values to get us through it.
These values become relevant in the job searching process. If a candidate’s values line up with that of the company’s, they are more likely to reach out to you and hire you. Best of all, you’ll be happier in a job that has the same values as you! Communicating these values clearly through your personal brand will set you up for a productive and fulfilling career.
And what about your passions? What do you do to pass the time when no is looking? Do you swim, draw, paint, cook, clean, etc.? As for your professional passions, do you like automation, social media, photography, or organizing? We all have different passions, and those passions light a fire in our soul. If we live a life in which we are unable to devote any time to these passions, our happiness and contentment will decrease. As this happens, it will make us feel lost and ill-placed at our jobs. Therefore, be public in your expression of your passions – take classes and do what you want to do to explore your natural likes.
Together, values and passions will help you determine where you want to be today, tomorrow, and 10-years from now. The ideal career path will form and you won’t even need to do anything about – recruiters will see your brand and just know you are the right pick.
Your Key Traits
What makes you unique? What helps you stand out from the crowd? Here are the Big Five Personality Traits:
- Openness to new things
Do you lean more towards neuroticism and less towards extraversion? There is no one “right way” to approach these five traits. But, being aware of them can help you harness your uniqueness in your branding. If you accept that you are incredibly conscientious and not at all extraverted, own that in your content and branding. We all have strengths and weaknesses – no humans are immune to weakness.
Embrace the Niche
With so many people online today, it’s important to embrace the concept of niche marketing. This is a form of marketing in which you pick a specific niche and stick to it with all of your branding. Although you may feel the pull to pursue a “catch-all” form of branding that you feel will appeal to everyone, this can actually narrow your chances by making you too generic. Your personal brand is going to grow as you grow. You want to be known for yourself, your personality, and what makes you happy today. Pretending to like “everything” may cause recruiters to approach you for jobs that will not bring you any personal contentment.
The most important thing at the end of the day when it comes to building your personal brand is to choose authenticity. There is often times a misconception that building a personal brand means creating a character or persona. A persona is a façade, and it’s now heading in the wrong direction from who you are as a person.
Going through our lists above, ask yourself the hard questions, write down your values and passions, figure out your key personality traits, and sit back and embrace it all. There is nothing you need to hide. Branding is not about positioning yourself as someone you are not. Rather, it’s about strategically marketing who you ARE. Getting started with a personal brand begins with getting to know yourself. Take some time to journal, ask friends and family about your quirks and shortcomings, and pause to get to know yourself. This is a useful exercise for every single person on the planet – we could all spend more time getting to know ourselves!