Protecting your personal brand: top tips

As companies continue to go under, and the way we do business is called into question, what of the individual? Tara Craig asks the experts how best to protect the personal brand.

1. Make yourself unique

“Develop a three-second statement that will make you stick in people’s minds when they ask: ‘What do you do?’. For example: ‘I’m a headhunter and I write books’, ‘I’m a business psychologist with a marketing background’, or ‘I’m an electrician. I also play the trumpet in a jazz band’, ‘I’m an account director for an advertising agency. I also do a lot of photography’. Statements such as these will make you unique in most people’s experience. They will remember you and probably come back to you if they need what you have to offer.”

John Purkiss, headhunter and
co-author of Brand You

2. Move on

“If your name is associated with a company that got into trouble – through no fault of your own – it’s best to learn your lesson and then start work on something positive. It could be a new business, a charity project, or speaking at seminars on a subject you know well that will help other people. You will soon feel better and people will notice it. Talk about your new project(s) on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, etc. Within a short time, the new material will crowd out the old, both on Google and in conversations people have when you are not in the room.”

John Purkiss

3. Define your personal brand

“If you have recently lost or are worried about losing your job, you may find the loss of your company’s brand, your title and colleagues very difficult to cope with – many people predominantly confuse their own brand with that of their employer’s. But your brand hasn’t changed. Your knowledge, expertise and contact lists have not become worthless overnight. If you have built a strong reputation for your expertise, proactivity, reliability and integrity, and have developed a network that recognises these qualities, turn to that network now to sustain you during these tough times. It may be an unforeseen opportunity for a wonderful change.”

Tessa Hood, managing director,
image consultants Changing Gear

4. Network

“We all have a personal brand, whether we work at it or not. Your brand will be perceived as either positive, negative or neutral. Decide where and how you want to have a profile. Get on LinkedIn, look for trade or professional bodies to join – anything that gets your name out there in front of your target audience. Remind people what you are good at, what you have achieved, and look for relevant blogs or forums where you can voice opinion and start growing a strategic profile for yourself, and not just for your employer or former employer.”

Tessa Hood

5. Get moral

“In difficult times there are bound to be moral issues affecting your organisation that will impact on you too – perhaps to do with turning a profit, accepting bonuses, or creating a leaner workforce. Project your personal brand by identifying the moral line that you won’t cross. Don’t keep this to yourself. State your point of view when the opportunity arises. Look back to a situation where you stayed silent when you could have projected your brand. Prepare an informal statement you can use so that your personal brand remains protected in future.”

Eleri Sampson, author of Build Your Personal Brand,
and executive coach, Wisdom8 coaching company

6. Project a positive outlook

“Your personal brand will benefit if you demonstrate a positive attitude, are kind to people who are having a rough time, and behave courteously to all – even those who got you into whatever mess you may be in. Stay neutral in situations when the tarnished reputation of your organisation is the subject of discussion. Even if you are angry or worried, defending the organisation might seem naïve or lacking in commercial or political awareness. Likewise, rubbishing your managers, the board or the shareholders will appear disloyal – they are still paying your salary, after all.”

Eleri Sampson

7. Focus

“In these tough economic conditions, you need to focus more than ever on the one thing you can control: how you are perceived. And the way to do this is to go back to basics. Reputations precede us and perception is reality – or rather, perception is a form of reality as it can be demonstrably false. And all too often it is. So as a start, find out how you are actually perceived by others, as it will give you vital clues as to what it is that those who can affect your success find compelling about you, and those areas that might need improvement.”

Louise Mowbray, founder of coaching company
Mowbray by Design, and author of the e-book
Personal branding – the competitive edge

8. Add value

“Once you are clear on what people want more of, start to deliver this consistently and find ways of ensuring that you are well-known in your area of expertise. The secret here is to add value to your organisation, colleagues and stakeholders. So if you believe you are a good leader or marketeer or strategist, arrange an event to benefit everyone and invite an expert speaker on the topic. You will be associated through the expertise of others. Above all, demonstrate your value rather than talking about it.”

Louise Mowbray

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