In the recently published Career Guide, brought to you by Barden and Chartered Accountants Ireland, Tana Storani explains how to build a pandemic-proof personal brand that will boost your career as the hybrid working model emerges.
A brand is a figurative representation of a product or service. You are also a brand. Your personality, network, communication style, education, know-how, and experience is packaged in a title, such as Chartered Accountant, and sold to the market. Your personal brand is essentially a combination of your image and reputation.
Branding is the management of a company’s image and reputation, aiming to make it more desirable and positive in the minds of its customers and the general public. The goal is to differentiate the brand. Similarly, personal branding is the act of developing the strategy and actions to guide and manage your brand to either advance your career or be chosen by potential clients. It is acting and positioning yourself in such a way that your audience clearly understands who you are and what you offer.
To thrive in this new hybrid environment, where virtual is the ‘new frontier’, it is important to adapt to the new business models and ways of working. To do so successfully, you must strategically develop a hybrid personal branding strategy and project your image and reputation to your target audience to set yourself apart. In other words, you cannot simply go back to the old way of doing things — the post-pandemic world will be a combination of online and offline, whether you like it or not.
I have helped individuals and companies unlock their full potential through personal branding and professional innovation since 2012. I do this through the ten golden rules of personal branding in a hybrid world, which are:
1. Create a strategy
Develop an online and offline personal brand strategy and stick to it. Use the Personal Branding Canvas to develop your personal brand strategy.
2. Complete your LinkedIn profile and create a personal website
A personal website and completed LinkedIn is the crux of your personal brand. Your target audience will research you on LinkedIn before deciding to work with, hire, or recommend you, so it’s crucial that you do more than the bare minimum. Don’t simply complete the core steps in creating your LinkedIn profile or build a basic, bland website. Be compelling.
3. Gather virtual recommendations
Saying you achieved phenomenal results in a unique way is one thing, but having the beneficiary publicly sing your praises is quite another. Word of mouth is always good, and having virtual recommendations on LinkedIn, websites, and internal groups is essential.
4. Determine your efficient time
This is the percentage of your time that could be used more productively for tasks other than meeting clients in person. Instead of travelling to visit clients, what if you used part of that time to network or seek new prospects? To determine your percentage of efficient time, identify the number of hours you wished you had available each week to be more productive through tasks other than face-to-face meetings.
5. Implement criteria to determine what meetings can go virtual
Look at your agenda for next week and decide what client meetings should go virtual to free up more efficient time for the goal you created. Create defined guidelines. For example, all first meetings with new potential clients are face-to-face, but if the decision-maker attends via video link, you should too.
6. Use CRM software
Humanising your service ensures that all strategies, whether digital or offline, are accurate and achieve the best possible result. Using a CRM system will help you optimise your daily schedule and prioritise tasks, ensuring customers are not ignored and key prospects are contacted on time.
7. Make contact easier using technology
In the hybrid world, virtual selling essentially becomes selling. With that in mind, it is important to ensure you have a clear call to action or an easy contact route for your network. For example, use the WhatsApp tab on your website to enable contacts to reach you without thinking twice.
8. Ask your target audience about their preferences
If you are an entrepreneur or a member in business, your network likely wants solutions that deliver measurable and valued outcomes online or offline. So first, understand their expectations, preferences, and current situation. Then, use technology to offer a broad range of virtual options to cater to their needs. That way, you will become known as a solutions-focused Chartered Accountant who is a pleasure to deal with.
Participate and speak in online and offline events. By networking and building relationships regularly, you’re constantly engaging with new people that have the potential to shape your brand by offering new opportunities for personal and professional growth. You can either create your own event to participate in or join an industry event on Eventbrite. Also, develop partnerships that will allow you to host or manage online events where your name will be highly promoted. Whether you’re comfortable with it or not, public speaking is a tried and true way to extend your personal brand.
10. Social media is a MUST
According to Statista, over 3.6 billion people use social media worldwide. Social media creates excellent opportunities for personal branding efforts, both for personal and corporate purposes. Well-planned brand management on social media creates value for your brand – from creating posts to interacting with followers, it all contributes to a solid social media presence which, in turn, contributes to a solid personal brand.
These ten rules will help you achieve recognition in your career and even greater results in your business, especially in this new hybrid world. Good luck as you prepare for 2022!
Tana Storani is the Founder of Storani Careers and a former recruiter for LinkedIn and HP. Tana specialises in personal branding, career strategy, and leveraging LinkedIn for professional growth.
You can read this article and others in Career Guide 2021/2022.