This post was originally published by Lisa Hufford on LinkedIn.
It could be anywhere—at a party, a work event, or a coffee shop. You meet someone, and they introduce themselves with their name and their job title. And unless their title is truly memorable—and let’s be honest, it often isn’t—it quickly fades from memory.
Now what if they introduced themselves differently? What if they fused their what (job title or impact of their work) with their why (their motivation) in a way that gave you insight into their personality and how they view the world and their place in it? That sets them apart. That’s personal brand.
What if they fused their what with their why? … That sets them apart. That’s personal brand.
When I first quit my corporate job in 2006 and set out on my own as a consultant, I didn’t give much thought to how I was presenting myself or what I wanted to be known for. I activated my network, found projects that played to my strengths, and started to drum up a consistent pipeline of work.
Soon, just as consistently, I was asked to help others do the thing that I was doing. Over the years, I’ve advised literally thousands of professionals on their careers and helped many of them transition from corporate to consulting. Along the way, I’ve realized that the key to success—especially in consulting and project-based work—is a clear, compelling, and consistent personal brand.
Be yourself; everyone else is already taken. – Oscar Wilde
Personal brand, defined
But first, what makes a successful brand? Great brands stand out intentionally. And in doing so, they’ve become engrained in our social consciousness and are instantly recognizable. Nike, Apple, Nordstrom, Microsoft.
We can learn from great brands. In a world that’s increasingly digital, people still matter. How we show up and the impressions that we make are important differentiators. I’ve dedicated my career to those human-to-human moments: helping the people in my community achieve greatness in work and in life.
I define personal brand as the intersection of your strengths and your passions. It’s how you show up and the authentic words you use to describe yourself.
So, what’s my personal brand?
The authentic words that I always come back to are generous, driven, and helpful. (What’s an authentic word? Keep reading to download my playbook and discover yours!)
I thrive on making complicated things simple, and I love learning. I enjoy taking on big challenges and doing things that haven’t been done before to improve people’s lives.
Looking back on my many jobs, I now see how my personal brand shows up across all my different roles. This is the power of personal brand—recognizing that it can adapt to a variety of jobs for each person.
Don’t ask what the world needs. Ask what makes you come alive, and go do it. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive. – Howard Thurman
Personal brand in the gig economy
Call them what you will—freelancers, contractors, consultants, independent experts, high-end gig workers—a growing number of professionals are shifting from traditional corporate careers as full-time employees at a single company to creating their own path. The freelance workforce in America rose by 4M in 4 years, reaching 65.7M in 2018. 61% of freelancers do so by choice, and the continuing growth is driven by younger generations of workers.
In this increasingly competitive market, it’s not enough to just be able to do the work. First, you have to land the work. And that requires knowing and articulating your unique personal brand statement—not just what you do, but why you do it and how it adds value.
At Simplicity, we receive thousands of applications each year. The ones who stand out have taken this message to heart. Rather than regurgitating their resumes, they’ve tapped into their authentic personal brands and gotten clear on why they’re unique. They’re also intentional about what they’re putting out in the world. They’re asking for the work they want, and not asking for the things that don’t meet their criteria (even if they’re good at them!).
Each of us has our own definition of success and each of us has a unique personal brand. I believe that personal success—whatever that looks like for you—is achieved by understanding your unique personal brand and choosing to live it. As Oscar Wilde said, “Be Yourself: Everyone else is already taken.”
Here’s to you!
Download the personal brand playbook
Get started! Download my personal brand playbook to get clear on your personal brand and achieve professional success—whatever that means for you.
Check out my virtual personal brand workshop
Ready to dig in? Watch my on-demand personal brand workshop where I guide you through the five steps to defining your personal brand. You’ll leave inspired, informed, and energized to create and share your unique story.
About Lisa Hufford
Lisa Hufford is the founder & CEO of Simplicity Consulting—a $34M company that helps innovative companies accelerate growth with strategic sales and marketing programs. She's also the author of Navigating the Talent Shift: How to build on-demand teams that drive innovation, control costs, and get results and the Personal Brand Playbook.
About Simplicity Consulting
From strategy to execution, Simplicity Consulting is the on-demand marketing and business consultancy for the new world of work. We help companies accelerate growth, add a fresh perspective, and increase capacity—at the speed of business—with access to our curated community of marketing, communications, and business operations experts. To learn more, visit simplicityci.com