• T.C. Hawkins

Personal Branding Overview for the Unique Individual

Updated: Mar 28, 2018

Hi Unique Individuals,

Personal branding is one of the main areas of focus for Dual Spirit Style, LLC. While personal branding has become a popular subject, many people still aren’t very familiar with the concept. As you continue reading I will answer a few questions that will get you more familiar with the basics of personal branding and how I was introduced to it.

Those questions include:

  • What is a Personal Brand?

  • How I got into Personal Branding?

  • Who is Personal Branding for?

  • Why is Personal Branding Important for the Unique Individual?

What is a Personal Brand?

There are many definitions for what a personal brand is. I like to describe a person’s personal brand as what people think about that person and their abilities, or a person’s professional or personal reputation. Typically when developing a personal brand, one is focusing on their professional goals. However, it is hard to keep what you do in your personal life completely separate. I do believe that there is a time and a place for everything, and certain things should be kept from your professional life. However in my opinion, having a personal brand that doesn’t include some aspects of your personal life isn’t a very genuine one.

The process of developing a personal brand involves taking a look at your skills, experiences, values, and unique qualities. Then crafting a message from all of those components and strategically articulating that message to your professional world.

How I got into Personal Branding?

I was the person that went to law school that didn’t want to be an attorney. I wanted to be a sports agent, in order to help bring visibility to professional women’s basketball through marketing efforts. After graduating and passing the bar it was time to get a job and start to pay down those student loans. I admit that I bent under the pressure from my parents and academic advisors to at least see if I liked attorney work. At that time, like many other professions, legal jobs for attorneys with little to no experience were scarce. It was an accomplishment to even land a job interview. During those months I came across the Personal Branding for Dummies book by Susan Chritton, M.Ed. I was determined to find some way to stand out over thousands of newly licensed attorneys trying to get a job in the Chicago market. To my surprise, when I read through the book, I feel in love with the process of personal branding.

The process of reflecting on my skills, work experience, reputation, and interests to present myself in a unique way fueled something in me. The more I completed the exercises in the book, the more I realized I didn’t want to even try to be a traditional attorney. Personal Branding for Dummies gave me the tools to reflect upon how I really wanted to spend my professional life and what kind of lifestyle I wanted to live. It was reading that book that really drove home that I needed to shut down the peer pressure of “trying out the legal field,” and focus on developing myself professionally so I could spend the next 40+ years of my life doing something that I would feel passionate about. I desired a career that would not only allow me to explore my many interests, but also allow me to contribute something meaningful to others with my time in this world.

Who is Personal Branding for?

Many people ask the question, “Why would I need a personal brand?” There is an idea, even amongst some professionals that celebrities are the only people that have personal brands. Additionally, some people are turned off by the use of a corporate business term that is used for products and services to be equated to something for individuals. The reality is that everyone already has a reputation, thus everyone already has a personal brand. People already have an idea of who you are and what you can do based on your reputation, looks, and digital presence. The process of personal branding is making the decision and taking action to manage that reputation. Then taking strategic steps or thoughtful actions to use the managed reputation as a tool to achieve your professional goals. Whether those goals involve having your own business, getting a job, or advancing within your current organization.

Then there is taking a look at the current state of the job market and how it affects your current and future ability to support yourself. Many people in the baby boomers generation are used to the life of getting a job out of high school or college and then staying in that job until retirement age. Or at least sticking with a job for ten years or more. Unfortunately the days of getting a degree, getting a job, and keeping that job indefinitely has been continuously going away. There is no longer the same sense of job security due to increasing layoffs and technological advances that are changing industries in what sometimes seems like overnight. The long-term employee is increasingly turning into the independent contractor. For just about whatever way you support yourself, not having a strong personal brand and professional development plan could leave you unexpectedly unemployed. Additionally, focusing on your brand can lessen complacency and move your unique values to the forefront of other’s minds.

Personal branding sets you apart from your peers and competition with similar experience, by making your relevant skills clear and highlighting what separates you from others. Personal branding also shows others that your career and reputation as a professional is important to you and that you’re willing to put in extra effort to advance it.

Why is Personal Branding Important for the Unique Individual?

As unique individuals we are the minority, therefore when it comes to interviewing and other business interactions we are often at a disadvantage. That’s also taking into account all of the diversity initiatives created to encourage more diverse hiring. In general, people hire people that they like. And people like people who make them feel comfortable. While being a unique individual makes many people uncomfortable, coming across as fake or inauthentic will make even more people uncomfortable. Whether consciously or subconsciously, most people can sense when individuals are being untrue or inauthentic to who they are. Which creates an environment of distrust. That’s why it’s important for unique individuals to know and be confident in who they are. Not necessarily so that everyone can know details about your personal life; but in order for us to come across as genuine and confident in interviews and other business interactions.

Now that I’ve talked about the basics of personal branding and why it’s important for the unique individual, it is my hope that you reflect on your professional goals. Are you where you want to be in your career? Are you spending your time doing something that you care about? Are you confident and proud of who you are as a unique individual? If not, it’s not too late to make a change and take control of you professional future.

From one unique individual to another,

T.C. Hawkins


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