- Personal branding means recognizing yourself and your talents, values and competencies and carrying them to the outside world.
- No matter if you are a young professional or an executive, a kindergarten teacher or a manager – every person should have a brand “I”, says Franziska Schaadt.
- Schaadt is an expert in personal branding and explains to you in this five-part series why this is important and how to find your personal brand.
- See more stories on Insider’s business page.
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“Personal branding” is a term that you now encounter on many channels. Especially self-employed people, founders or people working in PR, marketing and journalism know the importance of a personal brand. But what exactly does it mean to have your “own brand”? Why is it also important for kindergarten teachers and architects to have their own brand and network? Does every person really need a personal brand?
Yes, says Franziska Schaadt. As a coach, she has already accompanied and supported more than 2,000 people in their personal and professional development.
She passes on her experience in personal branding, strategic networking and leadership to her female clients, customers and team members, as well as to her mentees and followers on social media. An economist, she has previously advised companies such as Microsoft on their social selling strategies and founded her boutique coaching and consulting agency in 2017. Since this year, Schaadt has also been training her own coaches at her Future Work Academy.
Schaadt now wants to share her experiences with Business Insider readers. In Part 1 of this career series, you’ll learn how to use your personal brand to bring out the best in yourself, both professionally and personally.
What is a personal brand?
A personal brand is the “I” brand around your personality. It is the strengths, talents and competencies that make you special. With a clear position, you can position yourself specifically on social networks – but your own brand also helps you offline. Once you have established a clearly positioned personal brand, you can subsequently achieve much more without much effort and thus build a strong network.
The personal brand consists of a basis of values and characteristics that you want to embody and convey. According to Schaadt, important questions are: “Who do you think you are? What do other people think you are? And what do you think other people think you are?” The overlap of these three questions is the central message of your brand.
Both when starting your career and as a manager, you can use the targeted staging of this brand, selected presentation and self-marketing to achieve expert status and sustainable opinion leadership. An example: On LinkedIn, you are an expert on the topic of “sustainability” because it is also part of your job responsibilities. You deal with the topic, post your thoughts, interesting studies and experiences. You also network with people who are also interested in this topic. So if someone wants to get more involved with sustainability, he or she will think of your name directly.
If you make a name for yourself in public and establish yourself as an expert in something, you can convince prospective customers more easily and, in the best case, produce a pull effect on potential customers. Personal branding is primarily about becoming aware of your uniqueness and communicating to the outside world what you can do and what you stand for.
In a job interview or conversation with your boss, you can then confidently demonstrate: I know my stuff and have a network that also helps the company.
The personal brand is therefore important for your career because you become and remain visible. Schaadt explains it with the following example: Imagine you are applying for your dream job with three other people. All applicants have a master’s degree, have already gained job experience and have received a recommendation from their previous employer. But one person is already very well connected and communicates clearly what is important to her. Who do you think the company will choose? “Performance alone is not enough. When it comes to job interviews or salary negotiations, what also counts is: How strong is your personal brand? What network do you bring to the table?” says Franziska Schaadt.
But what does it mean to have your own and relevant network? Let’s take the example of a kindergarten teacher who specializes in particularly attachment-oriented education and communicates this to the outside world in this way, for example on the website and in personal conversations. Their network consists mainly of parents, parents-to-be and other educators who are interested in this style of education – and who will pass this “brand” on to others. As a result, a number of parents who share these values – and have heard about the educational method from other parents – will probably soon be looking for a place at a daycare center. The educators as well as the company benefit from the personal branding and the network of the employees.
But a personal brand not only helps you professionally, but also in your personal life. “When I know and reflect on myself, I can live with integrity,” Schaadt says. “Because then I make decisions based on my values.” That’s how your inner compass guides you, she says. That also helps, she adds, because there is then no temptation to be guided or distracted by external factors.
In her view, the decisive factor for effective personal branding is the consistent and universal implementation of your individual strengths and preferences at all levels. Personal branding is therefore not a one-time juggernaut – but an ongoing journey that requires a lot of attention and self-love.
People know who you are before they meet you.
Personal branding, however, is not about simply telling others who you are – but more importantly, about building relationships with others by sharing your values and experiences. “The key is relationships, because they build trust,” says Schaadt. “Whether it’s with colleagues, bosses or family, we always have some kind of relationship with those around us.”
When you’re present both online and offline with your values and strengths, others can get to know you better, find common ground or discover interesting aspects of your life and work that they want to talk to you about. This is how a relationship is formed without you even really talking to the people.
You’ve probably heard the saying, “My reputation precedes me.” That’s exactly what a personal brand means to you. You create and manage that reputation by positioning yourself on social media and networking with other people who are talking about you.
Imagine you want to go on a trip. You will probably first google the vacation destination, what you can experience there and whether it suits you. Perhaps you will also ask friends and acquaintances who have already been there what experiences they have had. This way you will have a first impression before you even start your trip. And that’s how it should be with your personal brand when someone finds out about you.
Your goal should be that people recognize you.
A strong personal brand has another advantage: people remember you better. “Starbucks” makes people think of coffee, Adidas makes them think of sports, Bill Gates makes them think of Microsoft. What do people think of when they hear your name?” Schaadt says a sharpened brand can help you find the right contacts for your life and career. That’s as true for individuals as it is for genaze companies, he says. “I don’t think Tesla would be as successful without Elon Musk. Or Apple without Steve Jobs. You associate a certain positioning with them, which then in turn pays off on the whole company.”
Dare to specialize in a particular topic. “A lot of people are afraid of rejection. They would rather have broad interests and strengths, but quality over quantity,” says the expert. After all, the clearer your profile, the more precisely you will address the people you want to reach.
Think about it: If you’re in the mood for a good pizza, would you rather go to the restaurant that offers everything from kebabs and fries to pizza and sushi – or to the Italian restaurant that specializes in pasta and pizza?
What are the benefits for companies when employees have personal branding?
“I think it will be a must-have for companies in the near future that their employees have their own brand if they want to be successful,” says Schaadt. After all, that’s how they make the company’s work approachable. “In the past, it was all about the result. But now it’s also important: Who is behind this result?” Transparency is important here. It creates trust in the person, brand and organization.
And: your employees are strong brand ambassadors for your company. “A close employee brings much more to the company than any kind of job ads or advertising,” says Schaadt. When employees have a strong network, the company benefits at the same time.
However, some people are still uncertain about what they are allowed and able to post on social networks – often there is a fear of appearing unprofessional because you show emotions. That’s why there should be more training for employees, says Schaadt. And: Managers should also set an example of openness and show their personality and values.
Personal branding needs to be learned
But it takes a little time to find and build a personal brand. So developing one’s own brand from one day to the next is not possible. “You first have to take an in-depth look at yourself,” explains Franziska Schaadt. “Then you take the personal brand to the outside world, build your network and maintain it.”
And you should also keep in mind: your personal brand develops and changes over the years. In your early twenties, different things are important to you than in your mid-thirties or late fifties. Therefore, over the years, you may also stand for something different in each case. “The process is never really finished,” says. Schaadt. “You can always discover new sides of yourself and find yourself in different phases of life.”
Next Monday, you can read about how exactly to find your personal brand and what questions you need to ask yourself to do so in Part 2.
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