This is a guest blog by Leah Gervais of Urban20Something. This is the story of how personal branding helped Leah land a job in a foreign country along with the 5 specific steps she took to build her brand.
It’s easy to look at “Personal Branding” and think, “Ok, my social media is clean, I have a good job, I’m in my twenties, how much effort should I really be putting into personal branding when it doesn’t seem that applicable to me?” Well, I’m here to tell you that if you want to make the most of the opportunities around you, work and otherwise, personal branding is very applicable, to everyone.
My initial focus on personal branding in my early twenties led me on the adventure of a lifetime in Southeast Asia. – Leah
Sure, you could get away with lying low on personal branding. It’s not a necessity per se and your career and/or finances probably won’t suffer if you don’t nurture your personal brand. But what you might start to notice is that there are tons of opportunities that you’re missing out on because you don’t have a personal brand. Without one, how are you supposed to network on the spot? How are people supposed to find you online? How are you supposed to back yourself up when proposing a job or project idea to someone you just met? This is the magic of personal branding.
Personal Branding To My Rescue
Without boring you, I want to give a bit of background about how I ended up in a situation where my personal brand came to my rescue.
About a year ago, I took a big risk and quit my job to travel. This happened at a time in which I declined my acceptances to law school and decided I wanted to be alone for a while. Needless to say, a lot of changes were going on. When I got off the plan to Cambodia, alone, I had never felt so vulnerable in my life. It sounds amazing not having a schedule or a plan, but the truth is that it’s much harder than one would think.
During my first month there, I focused on building my digital footprint and personal brand. I spent days blogging on my own blog, Urban20Something.com, Medium, and The Huffington Post. I built my personal website, which I’m confident is the tool that got me the current job I have, my dream job. I cleaned up my social media and organized and systematized my networking and contacts. I cannot tell you how glad I am that I took this time to invest in myself.
How I Landed A Job In Bangkok
About three months into my trip, I was in Bangkok alone in a cheap hostel, unsure of what I was doing there or what to do next. It was an interesting time in my life. While there, I went to a lunch meeting for a philanthropic organization here. Was I invited? Nope. Did it matter? Not a chance.
At the lunch, I talked to several locals and explained to them that I thought I would be here for a while and would love tips on more local activities and managing the city. As it turns out, one of the women I spoke to was going to the Bangkok Symphony Orchestra a couple days later. She generously invited me to come along.
Fast forward to the night of the concert. After the show, I left the venue and saw a woman with a cello case outside who I knew had just performed in the symphony. I ran up to catch her so I could congratulate her. After about 15 minutes of small talk, she told me that she just moved here recently from Brazil to join this orchestra and she was looking for a native English speaker to tutor her three children. Long story short, I began tutoring them 3x a week, making enough money to cover my living costs, and even eventually moved in with them in their penthouse apartment in Bangkok. Quite the upgrade from my cheap hostel!
You can read this story and say I’m lucky. I am lucky, but you can be too. The truth is opportunities are all around us, and with self-marketing, you can really take advantage of those. This story wasn’t just me floating around Thailand. There’s self-marketing that went behind every step.
5 Steps I Took To Start With Personal Branding
My story is just an example of the power of personal branding, and it’s because I’ve been so fortunate to reap the benefits of investing in personal branding that I want to spread this message to all. Here are the five essential pieces of personal branding. These are where I started and I attribute so many opportunities that have come to me from having the below.
1. Created your personal website
This is the chamber of secrets, friends. I can’t recommend creating one of these enough. This website, which is my first and last name, is my online resume and has helped me get my current job, find freelance work, network over social media, and so on. This will give you such a competitive edge in your career prospects and in ways you can’t even imagine yet.
I spent hours researching personal websites and crafting mine perfectly. I made a checklist of all personal website essentials, which you can download for free here.
2. Created a networking spreadsheet
80% of networking is following up (I just made that statistic up- the point is that it is the most important part!). Think of how many people you meet every day and how easily those relationships fall in the cracks because life gets in the way and you don’t have time to foster every relationship! Create a spreadsheet of your network. I update mine weekly, adding in new people I met that week, how I met them, etc. Then, once every 3 months, I look at that spreadsheet and follow up with people I haven’t spoken to in a while.
3. Write online
You don’t have to start a blog to get your name out and begin establishing yourself in the field of your interest. Platforms like Medium, Quora and Twitter are excellent resources to begin writing, growing a following, connecting with experts in the field, and branding yourself. I encourage people to post on these platforms once a week when starting out.
4. Designed business cards
You should have a business card that’s just for you, not an affiliation with your company. I encourage you to match the colors and fonts to that of your personal website, thereby creating your brand image in the simplest form. Take these babies with you wherever you go!
5. Develop an elevator pitch
Take some soul searching time to pin down what truly drives you every day. What drives you at work? What drives you after hours? What do you want people to remember you for? Jot down the ideas that come to your head and nail them into a sentence or two about your personal mission. Don’t worry too much about it being perfect, you can always change this! But, your elevator pitch will help you network and connect with like-minded people.
The key to these exercises above is putting them all together to define a cohesive brand. Your elevator pitch, personal website, and business cards shouldn’t be created individually. Rather, create them together with a constant theme and style in mind. Ideally, your personal website’s vibe and style will reflect the sentiments of your elevator pitch, your writing online will reflect your personality, and so on. All of it will mesh together to define you, what you care about, and what you are working toward.
These are simple examples of personal branding that can pay dividends time and time again. I encourage you investing yourself by taking an afternoon or two and focusing solely on the foundation of your personal brand. And, it’s fun! Who doesn’t like thinking and talking about themselves? 🙂
Thank you for visiting me!
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