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As marketers, we all know the importance of building a strong brand. But what about building a personal brand and applying your marketing knowledge to yourself?

Most people cringe at the thought of publicly talking about their talents, strengths, expertise, and passions. It’s incredibly vulnerable. But when doors aren’t opening, or the doors you want to open aren’t even there, it’s time to take the risk.

In writing this article, we looked to Personal Branding expert, Lisa Hufford, Founder of Simplicity Consulting (a 24 Seven Company) and newly named MTM Visionaries host, to see how leaders can land their next opportunity by mastering their personal brand. Here’s how she thinks about it.

First, what is a personal brand?

“A personal brand is your true identity,” said Lisa Hufford. We know that brands are more than logos, colors, font types—it’s the emotions and associations it evokes. According to Lisa Hufford, it’s “how your family, friends, and coworkers experience and perceive you.” It’s how you make people feel based on how you “communicate, dress, and live your life.” It’s your “strength plus your passion.”

As for Visionary Lizette Williams, she said showing up at work authentically as her true self made it easier for others to do the same. Which leads to the next question: Is having an established personal brand something every leader needs?

“When I started my career, I tried to emulate the best version of a white man, but it didn’t work out well for me. Once I stopped trying to be someone I’m not and started being true to myself as a Puerto Rican woman from the Bronx, my career took off.”

Lizette Williams, Global Head of Vertical Solutions Marketing at Meta

Why do I need a personal brand?

Knowing your personal brand is essential. Without it, people will believe what they want about you. Lisa emphasized that “perception is reality.” Developing your personal brand puts you in the driver’s seat. You get to choose “what you intentionally do and say,” she continued.

If you want to land more opportunities aligned with what you believe in and desire to do but also attract people with common goals, it’s essential to take the time required to learn about yourself and get curious about how people perceive you.

For many, self-expression does not come naturally; it’s learned through practice, paying attention, and simply making the time for it. To align your personal and professional purpose, you must make soul-searching a habit.

“Purpose didn’t just happen for me.  I had to do a lot of soul-searching and see what I was naturally gravitating towards.  For me, it was connectivity to sports and giving back to the community through sports.”

Kalen Thornton, VP Sports, Entertainment, and Gaming, PepsiCo

How do you put your personal brand into practice?

Once you’ve identified how you stand out–and how you want to stand out—it’s time to take your new brand on a “test drive” to see how it feels. So, spruce up your LinkedIn, and observe how your peers and recruiters respond to it. Here is where you can apply what marketers do best: test, learn, iterate, and repeat until you stick the landing.

The Soul-Search: Lisa’s 5 Steps to Living Your Personal Brand

  • Be Aware
    Check in with yourself. Consider where you are at this point in your life and career. Are you showing up in a way that is consistent with how you want to show up? Or do things feel out of alignment? Try paying attention to the people and leaders you admire. They may help reveal where you want to be.
  • Be Unique
    Embrace how you stand out by knowing your strengths (and quirks). Truly understand what is effortless for you and own it. Is there something in your life that others consistently compliment you for? What are you the go-to person for? Is this what you want to be known for? If you find yourself working too hard to fit in, how can you “embrace your unique packaging,” as Jonathan Mildenhall said on Visionaries, and be confidently you?
  • Be Confident
    When you have conviction, you are confident. Don’t second-guess yourself. You have more knowledge than you realize, and you’ve been successful before. Reflect on the times you had great professional success and remember how that felt, what you were doing, and why you were successful. A surefire confidence booster is to remind yourself that you’ve been successful before so you can be successful again.
  • Be Teachable

    Start with what you know and expand your world and your skills. If you don’t feel like an expert yet, how can you invest in yourself and continue to learn, grow, and build your brand? Some ideas: marketing events, webinars, finding a personal board of directors, mentorship programs, podcasts and insights from your peers.
  • Be Kind

    Notice the negative self-talk and self-limiting thoughts and explore where they come from. Do your own work to explore the things that keep you from living fully, freely, and alive. As Antonio Lucio said on Visionaries, “That me-time, self-reflection time, and let-me-figure-out-who-I-am time is the most selfless investment you can make. The people you serve deserve the best YOU. That starts with looking inside – any transformation, whether business or personal, begins and ends with you.”

Click here for a downloadable version of Lisa Hufford’s Personal Branding Playbook

About Lisa Hufford, Strategic Advisor and Founder, Simplicity Consulting, a 24 Seven Company
Recognized as a visionary and thought leader, Lisa Hufford, is on a mission to help everyone thrive in the new world of work. With a passion for driving transformative business strategies, Lisa brings a wealth of insight as an author, entrepreneur, and advocate for helping companies and professionals adapt and thrive.