Personal branding is considered the most powerful leverage individuals have in the corporate world. When individuals take an active approach to building their personal brand, the impression that is created goes a long way to determine others’ perception of them and their business.
Individuals with a strong personal brand are considered competent and credible due to their ability to deliver value through their actions and be recognized for it. In fact, those who market themselves with distinguishing skills and talents are much more likely to exceed workplace expectations and demonstrate executive presence, which helps them advance more quickly in their career and ensures job security.
According to Forbes, personal branding is a leadership requirement and those who know how to live and manage it will earn their respect in any situation. However, less than 15 percent of people have truly defined their personal brand and less than 5 percent are living it consistently at work. So how can individuals start to effectively build a personal brand that makes them stand out from their competition and appeal to hiring managers when it comes to reference checks?
In today’s competitive corporate world, a candidate’s professional achievements, rather than his job duties, are widely used as a measured indication for success. According to Forbes, accomplishments are the best way to showcase a picture of an individual’s abilities and how well they have done at their past jobs.
In many multinational firms and local companies, key performance indicators are specifically used as a measurement of an individual’s performance in an organization. A sales manager, for example, could sell his achievements by stating the percentage of customer base that he grew and sales quota reached within a certain period of time. For an operations director, his accomplishment should be associated with profit and loss, such as the percentage of return on investment increased and profit margin improved. By quantifying accomplishments, hiring managers will have a clear understanding of an individual’s work ethics, as well as his attitude and passion to contribute to the company.
In addition to professional achievement, having a high emotional intelligence quotient while achieving solid results will make your career advance faster and more financially successful. According to Forbes, emotional intelligence is an individual’s ability to manage his emotions and understand, empathize and build strong relationships with those around them. In a study conducted by TalentSmart, emotional intelligence was found to be the strongest predictor of performance in the workplace, explaining 58 percent of success in all types of jobs. Of all the subjects that were studied, 90 percent of the top performers (in terms of earnings) were high in emotional intelligence. Whether a job involves working in a team or interacting with the client, these findings suggest the direct impact that emotional intelligence has on performance and pay, which is critical for enhanced cooperation and teamwork, and ultimately determines an individual’s rate of success at an organization.
Consider Dave Jackson, who is currently the CEO of 328 Group, a key player in the aviation industry consisting of companies that provide services for the refurbishment and manufacturing of private jets. Jackson began his career as a graduate trainee with mining and engineering firm Rio Tinto Zinc Plc., where he helped to contribute a 45-percent growth in sales in his second year. His solid management skills and motivation to succeed allowed him to continue his success in his role with his next employer, Hunting Plc., which saw him successfully help develop the business and build strong relationships with key clients such as British Aerospace and Saab aircraft programs.
Thereafter, Jackson worked with global manufacturer Lucas Aerospace, where he was responsible for the European customer support activities with a turnover of £100 million and over 2,000 customers, as well as implementing an integration program that provided clients with a single point of contact while opening new customer support offices. Jackson’s strong interpersonal and communication skills radically inspired a culture change with an emphasis on customer service, leading to improved relationships with key accounts, such as Airbus, GE and British Airways. Jackson’s reputation within the industry later attracted the attention of Aviall Caledonian, where he joined the company as sales and marketing manager and secured new business worth over £40 million and developed new customers.
While individuals who have made extraordinary achievements in their respective roles and exhibit high emotional intelligence are highly valued, another important aspect of personal branding that is often overlooked is taking personal social responsibility to contribute to society. Regardless of the industry they are in, individuals can apply their talents to social and environmental causes, such as youth and homeless charities, recycling, reducing carbon footprint and mentoring others to succeed, to name a few. Julie Zolfo, for example, is a highly regarded talent-development coach that mentors clients on how to establish emotional and behavioral patterns that result in rewarding success and deeper fulfillment. In her spare time, Zolfo volunteers in the schools of New Delhi, India, where she is given opportunities to work with new challenges and people. Another example is Cynthia Jenkins of Creative Leadership Excellence, who volunteers with various professional development organizations to develop training workshops.
Through these experiences, Jenkins was able to grow her network by meeting with fellow executives, as well as learn about different leadership styles. When individuals take part in social change, they are aligning their personal brand with those causes, as well as building their visibility, credibility and trustworthiness.
As the war for talent heightens, individuals should take a conscious approach toward building their personal brand as it is essential as a basis for career success. While there is no “one size fits all” method, a personal brand can be effectively developed when individuals actively build a list of achievements throughout their career, manage themselves and build rapport with others through emotional intelligence, and take social responsibility to give back to the community.
Bó Lè Associates