20 years ago, I started working on consulting and training projects on personal branding. I had just started my freelance project as a marketing consultant, when one of my first clients as a freelancer was not a company or corporate brand but a liberal professional who wanted to improve her business by enhancing her personal brand. In these 20 years I have been fortunate to advise and train many professionals on personal branding.
And one of the things that I have learned during this time is that most people are not interested in actively managing their personal brand. It reminds me of the marketing lessons I received at ESADE: clients don’t want a drill, they want to hang a painting on the wall. And in my opinion, the same thing happens with personal branding.
There are usually 2 types of target audience for personal branding projects: employed professionals and self-employed professionals (freelancers).
In the first group, that of EMPLOYED PROFESSIONALS, they tend to be more reactive than proactive in managing their personal brand. That is, if there is not a clear problem or challenge, most of them are not very aware of proactively managing their personal brand. In many cases, it is only when a problem (for example, a layoff) or a challenge (for example, the possibility of a promotion) appears that they are usually motivated to manage their personal brand. But most of them understand that the personal brand is not an end, but only a way to achieve the defined objectives. In this sense, the main objectives of employed professionals are the following.
- First, I would say find a job. In these 2 decades, we have experienced several crises that have notably raised unemployment levels: the crisis of .com companies at the beginning of the century, the crisis in the financial markets (approx. 2008-2013) and the current crisis caused by the effects of the Covid pandemic. Without a doubt, finding a job is one of the main concerns of professionals. And managing your personal brand well helps this challenge significantly. Unfortunately, most professionals only care about their personal brand when they are looking for a job… and they stop working on their brand when they find work. In my opinion, a serious mistake; Managing a personal brand should always be a challenge, regardless of what professional situation you find yourself in.
- Second, to take advantage of a professional opportunity. Get a promotion or a new challenge. Becoming the chosen option when the organization they work for creates a professional opportunity that can allow the worker to improve professionally.
- And a third objective is usually professional reinvention (I commented on this in the post “You will have to reinvent yourself“). More and more professionals realize that they must professionally reinvent themselves. In some cases, out of necessity. Because they have been fired, because they cannot find a job in their profession, by age … In other cases, the professional reinvention will be out of conviction, because they discover that they do not want to continue doing the work they have been doing. In recent years there has been a proliferation of books, conferences and posts on professional reinvention that have made it one of the hottest topics in the professional market. And managing your personal brand well, analyzing well what your talents and motivations are, is essential to be successful in any professional reinvention project.
For SELF-EMPLOYED PROFESSIONALS OR FREELANCERS, it is also essential to manage their personal brand well (If you are a freelance or you are thinking in becoming one, I recommend 2 of my posts on the subject: “Why don’t you go freelance?” And “5 steps to go freelance”) . I dare to say that, in general, freelancers tend to be more interested in managing their personal brand. They tend to see it as more necessary, or I would even say that many see it as essential. But as with employed professionals, freelancers do not want a personal brand per se, they just want to be able to live profitably from their passion. In this sense, most freelancers know their profession very well (photography, consulting, coaching…) but they do not know as much how to turn their passion into a profitable business. And most tend to understand as personal branding everything related to attracting customers to be able to live satisfactorily from their professional activity.
Whether YOU ARE SELF-EMPLOYED OR EMPLOYED, WORKING WELL ON YOUR PERSONAL BRAND WILL BRING YOU MANY BENEFITS. Be proactive, do not wait until you are in a situation of need to start managing your personal brand. Because as Tom Peters said “The only way to distinguish ourselves as professionals, in an increasingly competitive world, is managing our careers as large companies manage the brands of their products”.