Personal Branding: Why it’s About You and Not Who You Represent

Elizabeth Reyn

I first learned the importance of personal branding when sitting on the employer’s side of a job and internship fair at Sarah Lawrence College. I came to the fair with a checklist of attributes I was looking for in our prospective arts non-profit summer intern: personable, eloquent, driven, and intelligent, with a strong interest and some administrative or arts-related work experience.

This turned out to be everyone who approached my table.

Outgoing, enthusiastic students would shake my hand, listen to my speech, and take my hand-outs with a smile plastered on their faces all the way through. A few asked questions. Most summarized their prior experiences. They all waved good-bye and left my table. I evaluated them based on a resume of impressive accomplishments yet a vague recollection of their personalities.

Finding the Right Person for the Job

In the midst of these candidates was a Sarah Lawrence student with a warm smile and a calm, curious demeanor. The student’s detailed questions about internship program and the company evolved into engaging conversations about our academic experiences in college and about creative writing, a shared mutual passion. Throughout the fair, he came by my table with more questions about the internship, making known of his intent to apply.

Upon reviewing applications, of the three people we invited a formal interview, he was the one selected for the internship. He not only had the above qualities suitable for our company, but he was memorable. He branded himself as the passionate writer, who could provide a wide range of arts experience as well as enthusiasm and optimism in the workplace.

Why Personal Branding is So Important

I realized during the fair that the best person didn’t exactly mean the best resume. In this case, the best person was the right person for the job. Someone who could bring his/her unique qualities and experiences, and have something to offer to the position. Showcasing personality and connecting with co-workers definitely doesn’t hurt as well.

Whether you are a small business trying to reach out to its target audience or an individual looking to stand out to employers, having the ability to properly market your personal brand will ensure that you will be seen. If you cannot adequately represent yourself and your unique qualities you’ll be just another name that someone saw somewhere that one time.

Make yourself stand out. Is there anything you are known for? Do you/Does your business have a trademark? Incorporate it into your personal brand. Anything that will make you distinctive and memorable will be valuable.

Do Not Rely on Your Credentials Alone

A mistake that many people make is to let credentials overshadow your personal brand. While having an impressive repertoire of clients or a degree from a prestigious university is an added bonus, in the grand scheme, having those things alone will not set your apart from your competitors.Your credentials can be part of your expertise, but cannot overshadow you.

Figure Out What is Special About You

This may require a little introspection, looking into the core, and figuring out your place and where you want to fit yourself into.

While working on your personal brand, it is important to remember that no one human or business is completely alike. What differs you from your competitors? What is something you can offer that is respective to you?

As soon as you can answer these questions, you will have the foundation necessary to be distinguishable, brush up on your best assets and get ready to market yourself.