How to Harness the Power of Personal Branding

What is your personal brand?
And how do you best represent that ‘brand’?

These questions began being posed to me while attending various educational events with 100 Women in Finance (“100WF”) NextGen. For those unfamiliar with 100WF NextGen, their groups “provide an educational and social forum for women with up to 10 years of professional experience to build lasting, synergistic relationships.” Inevitably, it’s fabulous! I was initially invited to learn more about this group when a friend, Angie Baraud, had recommended I assist with some of her volunteer commitments as she approached maternity leave. This was during the time the Cayman Islands chapter launched in the third quarter of 2016 and I’m grateful for the experiences I’ve enjoyed in the twelve months since.

Anyway, back to those questions and how they got me thinking of more questions: What is my personal brand? Is what I think my personal brand is the same as what everyone else thinks it is? How do I find out? A thirty-something Australian living and working in the Cayman Islands — that was the obvious part — but what made me unique? And how can that benefit me and those around me? And these questions were the inspiration that sparked my intrigue and fueled my desire to find out.

While attending the 100WF NextGen inaugural ‘Inspire’ event in October last year, I was fortunate enough to hear from some go-getting women including Tara Tvedt, a Gallup Certified Strengths Coach. I also had a good chin-wag with another coach that day, a fellow Australian, Danielle Young. As someone who had never engaged a business coach, I quickly decided that these ladies positively had something to offer and I wanted in on the action. So I scheduled three sessions with Tara and kicked-off my ‘strengths finding’ mission.

Captured by Creations Unlimited

As it turns out, my top five signature themes are Positivity, Empathy, Consistency, WOO (winning others over) and Harmony. So next was delving into what that meant and how I could play to my strengths to come across as my most unique and authentic self… ha! Is that what personal branding is? I was getting warmer. With new insights into where my natural strengths lie, in relationship building for example, I was able to focus on what makes up ‘me’ and why that makes me unique. This was a great foundation to begin forward planning for the personal brand I wanted to project. I now had the insights to move into action planning mode to harness and enhance what I do through my best traits every day.

Skipping forward the year, I am continuing to implement small conscious changes, seek advice and act with intention as I remain on my path of self-development. So you can only imagine my excitement to be signed up to attend the 2nd Annual Inspire event: Power + Presence just next week at the Marriott, with keynote from Harvard Business Review author, Maggie Craddock! I am wholeheartedly ready for some new found inspiration and mentoring from the ‘Power Genes’ Queen herself. I’m definitely still working on it yet have a feeling I’m going to discover new-found strengths again this year and I can’t wait! I encourage you to go out and discover you — so here’s a few how-to-tips to hopefully help you harness the full potential of your personal brand power:

  1. Take time to REFLECT
    Self awareness is step number one, but listening to feedback on how others view you and your ‘brand’ is so insightful! We are often our own worst critics, or at least we tend to play down our own strengths. This past year I really utilized my mid and year-end performance reviews as a pulse check and chance to hear about myself from someone else. And don’t stop in the office — your personal brand surely doesn’t — listen to your friends, if they’re anything like mine they’re wise women! With external feedback you’ll find a new perspective of yourself to connect with as you continually evolve your brand.
  2. Invest in YOU
    Sometimes it’s daunting to call a business coach and schedule sessions, for example certain coaches may want you to commit to lengthy time periods or minimum number of sessions. Research and find the right fit for you, someone you connect with that you will enjoy spending time with. And I promise allocating or spending the time and money on you will not disappoint! Plus, if you work for a fantastic organization like I do (MUFG Investor Services), they may accept your coaching as professional development, covered under your annual education allowance. Asking the question can never hurt.
  3. Follow the ‘TRIPLE A’ standard
    As I was guided by my Gallup Coach, you can use these three A’s when planning how to harness your personal brand power: Awareness, Application and Achievement. First increase awareness of your talents as mentioned above, practice applying those talents (perhaps with the assistance of a coach too) so that you’re using them in the best way you can, and finally be sure to leverage your talents to best achieve your goals. You may even discover that partnering with those who hold complimentary strengths to you will help accomplish greater team outcomes. For example, (like me) you may be strong in relationship building and partner well with someone who has solid influencing talents — these two qualities pair perfectly.
  4. AUTHENTICITY = consistency
    Once you’ve identified with the personal brand that you want to share with the world, only live by the choices that reflect your core values and beliefs. Repeat after me, “I will use my talents every day”. Do sporadic pulse checks and ensure your values and actions are aligned and chose to invest your time in doing things that bring out the best in you. This will help you to live a joyful life — something a wise woman is teaching me.
  5. Always know your SELF WORTH
    There’s something quite satisfying about living with the knowledge of who you are, what your strengths are and what your unique contributions are to others (or your team). It’s empowering, fosters self certainty, boasts confidence and guides you to go for what you want. Negotiate what’s best for you, recommend your ideas for improvement, asking for that pay rise — the sky is the limit once you’re comfortably in the drivers’ seat. Knowing your own worth; that’s the powerful part.

By Jess Deegenaars