You may have noticed that we chose invest rather than create for the title of this article… and you may be curious to know why.
The short answer is that here at Dapper, we believe everyone has a brand. We’d go as far as to say that it’s the one thing you’ll have with you for your whole life. So, for us, the question isn’t around whether you want to create a brand, but rather, whether you want to shape the narrative of your brand story.
While you mull over this idea, let’s unpack what a personal brand actually is, and how it differs from your reputation.
Everyone has a reputation – it’s how others see you. Whereas your personal brand is much more intentional – it’s how you want people to see you, how you own your story, what you choose to share, and how visible you are. And remember, this is relevant in real life as well as online, in both your personal life and your career.
So now that we’ve cleared that up – let’s unpack five reasons why we believe you should build a strong professional brand… and by that we mean one that is authentic, rather than an influencer-type brand.
Whether you’re pitching for your dream client or are through to the final round of a job interview, there is likely to be some stiff competition. You all tick the boxes when it comes to expertise and experience, so what sets you apart?
1. Stand Out From The Crowd
A strong professional brand may just be your answer – provided it’s authentic to who you are, and simultaneously aligned to the target audience you want to connect with. It’s what makes you unique and what draws people to you.
2. Build Credibility And Earn Trust
By being genuine, consistent, and sharing quality content, you’ll quickly build trust and be seen as having some authority in your industry. Remember that you have the power to define your brand by aligning your intentions with actions.
A great example of this is one of our long-standing clients, Louw Barnardt, who is co-founder and MD at Outsourced CFO. Regardless of how much he has on his plate, he is committed to posting quality content on LinkedIn that is aligned to his content pillars. He does this in a way that adds real value to his connections. He also carves out time for keynote talks, podcast and radio interviews, and international trips to get the OCFO brand in front of the right people.
This example reiterates that building a personal brand is not limited to the digital world, and that you can build credibility in real life by speaking from a point of authority, with passion, and in a way that fosters real connections with those you are speaking with.
3. Become a thought leader
At a certain point in your career, you are likely to have a wealth of experience and expertise that people in your network would love to tap into and learn from. Creating content through a personal lens, with a level of vulnerability around experience shares is a great way to do this.
I embraced this approach for one of my first keynotes, where the theme of the event was courage. Rather than using famous examples, I shared some of my own brand story, including feedback from a few of my closest friends and colleagues around my blind spots! It wasn’t easy, but it was authentic, and the affirmation and positive feedback I received afterwards gave me the confidence to continue to build my brand.
4. Give Your Confidence A Boost
Imposter syndrome is something most of our clients face, so our mission is to get them to realise that keeping their expertise to themselves isn’t going to help anyone, and it’s certainly not going to help them build their brand!
The first step is to work through this is to find your authentic brand voice, which is what I did in the keynote I mentioned above. Trust me, once you do, you’ll feel far more comfortable in your skin, and putting your brand out there won’t be quite as daunting as it used to be.
5. Experience the ripple effect
Being intentional about your personal brand can have a positive impact on and ripple effect through your business and life. Here’s a story to illustrate this.
On a recent trip up the Garden Route, my co-founder, Lindsay, chatted to the co-owner of Salt who spoke passionately about the developments cropping up in Plett, his son (who’s taking more of an interest in the growth of the Salt brand), and how the waves were meant to be superb for a surf later that morning.
Later that day, Linds chatted to Woljtek again, met his wife and wonderful co-owner, and after what must have been an hour of talking, the rapport was there and the connection was made. She left with a bag in hand and a smile on her face – and promptly followed them on Instagram. This is just one example of the many interactions that happen every day in retail stores, cafes, or grocery shop aisles where you have the opportunity to build your brand, in the most authentic, natural way.
So these are my five top reasons to invest in your personal brand. Do any resonate with you? Do you have other reasons? Whatever the reason, the power of a strong, authentic personal brand and the role it plays in building a network and driving traffic to your business cannot be emphasised enough. Your brand is already being experienced by the world, so now is the time to own it.