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3 steps for building your personal brand for a business career

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This article has been vetted by University of Phoenix's editorial advisory committee. 
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Jessica Roper

Jessica Roper MBA, Director of Career Services

This article was updated on 12/5/2023.

At a glance

  • Personal branding happens whether you want it to or not, so be intentional with the opportunity to decide how your audience perceives you.
  • To build your personal brand in business, become an authority in at least one category, seek visibility outside your immediate organization and build a network of people who support you professionally.
  • Explore University of Phoenix’s online bachelor’s degrees in business, which cover such topics as business fundamentals, marketing, finance and more.

You are a brand.

This is a fact, whether you know it or not. And when it comes to growing in your business career, you must build a personal brand that gets attention.

We’re not talking about the kind of attention that just attracts likes and followers on social media. We’re talking about building a personal brand akin to a corporate brand — like Nike, Apple or Google. We remember these brands for specific reasons and their reputations precede them.

If you want to craft a brand with similar staying power, then you need to uncover the opportunities in positioning yourself correctly in the job market. This includes understanding which skills set you apart and garnering credibility in everything you do.

Yes, it takes work to build a respected personal brand — but it’s worth the effort.


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What is personal branding?

“A personal brand is your story,” says Entrepreneur.com. “It is the culmination of what you do and what you stand for.”

Think of your brand as how you’re portrayed by colleagues, employers, peers or followers. It is the image or persona of how you want to be represented in your organization or the marketplace. 

Excellent personal brands don’t just happen. They must be planned and executed. They must be practiced.

“Personal branding involves creating a particular view of yourself for a specific audience. We do this all the time without really thinking about it,” says Lisa Severy, a University of Phoenix career advisor. “Some people call it ‘curating’ — what you display to the world. The point is that we’re doing things purposefully to make a particular impression on our audience.”

You’re more than just a resumé, in other words, with a job history and a college transcript. You have a history. You have successes and failures. Triumphs and defeats.

All of this matters in personal branding. Why? Because it’s part of the story you’re curating, as Severy points out.

Your job is to use your story to your advantage. Make it work for you. Instead of letting others craft your career story, you should be the driving force.

Let’s see how this is done effectively in today’s job market.

1.  Become an authority

If you want to succeed at work, school or life, you have to be intentional. The same goes for establishing your personal brand.

So, how do you craft the right personal brand? A great way is to establish yourself as an authority or expert in your field or at your company.

For instance, if you’re in marketing, become the best in one subset in that domain. If you like content marketing, be the person everyone goes to for content marketing. Build your skills, attend webinars and network with others in content marketing. 

You’ll be surprised at how quickly others in your organization will seek you out for different projects. 

If you take this approach, you will continue to hone your craft. You’ll also increase your visibility to senior managers who see and hear about your great work.

This is something I have seen firsthand in my own career. I’ve built up my skills at work and with a side business. I also earned an MBA and other certifications, and I’ve taken opportunities to put myself in front of senior executives at organization-wide staff meetings.

What did this do for me? It secured my personal brand — as a great communicator. Now, I’m sought out for other projects, including those with upper management, because I took chances to enhance my brand.

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2.  Gain visibility in your industry

It’s important to be known for something at your company. However, you also need to keep your personal brand active outside of the workplace.

Why? Well, most people only last about four years at any organization, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. You need to be prepared should you decide to leave or if you’re laid off.

Fortunately, we can use social media as a personal branding tool.

Michelle B. Griffin is a great personal branding example whom I follow. Known as “The Brand Therapist,” Griffin helps business professionals “stand out in their space” on LinkedIn®. She hosts virtual events, writes books, posts content, hosts a free branding community and hosts a podcast.

Now, you don’t have to go out and duplicate Griffin’s efforts. Instead, start small. Complete your LinkedIn profile and write your own newsletter on the platform. Talk about your career journey, discuss new things you’re learning and begin building an audience.

You’ll establish that authority we discussed earlier and learn even more in the process. Then, instead of just commenting on any LinkedIn post, you can focus on experts in your industry. Find the right people with the right skills and begin strategically cultivating those relationships.


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Another option is Twitter. You can build a profile that showcases your knowledge and expertise just like on LinkedIn. Twitter doesn’t have an in-house newsletter, but you can use Substack or Medium to showcase your writing. If you’re more of a speaker, Twitter Spaces offer the opportunity to host audio-only events with other users.

As Severy points out, “Within the job search, personal branding involves carefully crafting a professional image for employers, recruiters and colleagues to see us the way we want to be seen.” 

By approaching social media this way, you will be networking and gaining traction as a brand. 

3.  Know who your pacesetters are

In his book Raising Emotionally Strong Boys, author and counselor David Thomas talks about building a team of pacesetters for your life. These are people who help you through difficult moments and celebrate with you during life’s wins.

You also need pacesetters in your career. These are not just mentors — but they can be. They’re also colleagues, family and friends. They’re professionals at other organizations, in networking groups or even in social media discussion groups.

They carry you through tight spots and offer encouragement to weather storms. They offer constructive criticism when you need it and praise when it’s warranted.

Pacesetters can be instrumental to our personal brand. They can be the Steve Wozniak to our Steve Jobs or the Maya Angelou to our Oprah Winfrey.

Going forward

Just like big corporate brands, personal brands are not built in a day. They require constant nurturing and intentional action on your part. There is no time for being passive here. This is your business career, and you must take charge.

If you do, you’ll accomplish great things. Perhaps more importantly, your personal brand will stand for something. 

And that is the fertile ground your branding needs to lead others in your chosen industry.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

David Domzalski is an entrepreneur, copywriter and storyteller. He’s an effective communicator with a passion for helping people better their lives financially. His writing has been featured on multiple outlets including AOL, FanSided, Forbes, GOBankingRates, MSN, Nasdaq and Yahoo — along with his blog, RunTheMoney.com. He lives in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, with his wife and two children.

 

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