A brand called.. YOU!
You are a brand, a high-end brand in the making that is. Confused what I’m talking about? I am talking about personal branding here. Personal branding can be defined as the practice of people marketing themselves and their careers as brands. But why is personal branding so important? Currently, a trend is emerging in recruitment. Where people used to mainly be hired for skill, a shift is happening towards hiring for personality.
As sir Richard Branson said so himself: “The first thing we look for when hiring new staff is personality. In my eyes, personality always wins over book smarts. Company knowledge and job-specific skills can be learned, but you can’t train a personality.” And I guess we cannot argue with Richard Branson, therefore I decided to take the plunge and so more research on personal branding. This research brought me to Debbie Millman’s course on personal branding on creativelive.com: A Brand Called You.
Debbie Millman is an American writer, designer and educator. She’s known for her podcast Design Matters and chairs the Masters in Branding program at New York’s School of Visual Arts. In short, Millman seems as the right person to take personal branding lessons from. Here are my most important takeaways and questions to ask yourself based on the course I took.
Generators versus drains
People hire for personality and the kind of energy one brings into a room. A general split can be made between generators versus drains. A generator is someone that sees possibilities, inspires others and always wants to do better. A drain is someone that complains all the time and brings negative energy into a room. Also, known as a buzzkill. Now ask yourself, what kind of energy do you (want to) bring in a room? Exactly, you want to be a generator. Therefore, STOP COMPLANING as it is such a bad habit! And yes, this is also a reminder to myself as I am guilty of complaining from time to time (mostly about stupid things like traffic jam and being a little bit hangry).
You need to develop a mission statement. Who you are and what you believe is just as important as your skill, experience and portfolio. What are your unique beliefs and benefits, stated with stature and sincerity? As for me, and keep in mind a mission statement is a developing statement, my mission statement is as follows: I seek to build a bridge between people and technology, both figuratively and literally. While doing this, I always seek to improve on my past performance. Of course, I could’ve used the word connection instead of bridge, but I thought the latter is a nice touch since I work in the construction industry. Pun definitely intended here!
Identifying your key benefit is important. But the actual process of doing this is harder than it seems. Phrases that come up immediately are benefits like being passionate, intelligent, trustworthy, memorable, eager, hard-working, curious and so on. Millman explains, while these are benefits in some sense of the word, these traits are table stakes. You need to show up with these qualities anyways. She teaches to ask yourself, what is your key strategic benefit? Find out by asking yourself: What do you love doing? Why do you love doing it? How can you do it uniquely? How can you prove it? See how the last two are pretty hard to answer? I have been thinking about the answers to these questions for a while now, but I haven’t figured it out quite yet.
Personal branding is actually a lot harder than I first realized. I’m curious, what is your personal experience with personal branding and are you willing to take the course? The course was very helpful as it got me started with asking the right questions when it comes to personal branding. What do you think of hiring on personality rather than just based on skill? Let us know in the comments below!