Building a Personal Brand
Building a Personal Brand
This concept of personal branding is something that’s becoming more and more important as we move into the future. It’s becoming especially important as we move into a more digital age where we’re more and more connected across so many platforms, like LinkedIn, Facebook, Instagram, etc.
The lines between work and our personal lives are blurring, transparency is becoming more and more valuable, and with that so is the importance of being the same person at the office and the home.
Thanks to Covid, companies all over the world got a massive wake up call and were forced to adapt and pivot or go under. Suddenly boardroom meetings were being held from people’s kitchens, bedrooms, and living areas with kids and pets running around in the background. People got a new opportunity to get to know their colleagues on a much more personal level thanks to the nature of this transition.
Moving forward a lot of businesses are realizing that this transition… is working. And in a lot of cases, it’s working very well. Companies that can go digital, can cut out massive overheads and accomplish a lot more in a shorter time, and from a business standpoint, it makes a lot of sense to keep exploring this.
Hiring processes are changing too. The best companies are putting much more emphasis on hiring with culture in mind over skills and technical proficiency. I experienced this first hand when I was offered a role working for the e-commerce giant, Shopify, when I came from a background of personal training and acting. I had never worked in front of a computer before in my life, but culturally, they felt I was a strong choice because I hold an aggressively positive mental attitude and a growth mindset, meaning I value learning and putting in effort over talent.
When companies look to hire for culture, and great companies do, they’re asking, “WHO are you?” Not, “Where did you go to school?” “What are your qualifications?” “What’s your job experience look like?”
They want to know what kind of person you are. Are you a kind person? Do you genuinely care about helping people? Are you genuinely interested in learning and growing? Do you treat people well? Are you integrous? Can we rely on you to follow through? Are you here to add value and contribute to something bigger than yourself, or are you just turning up for a paycheck?
Your personal brand is WHO you are, not what you do. It’s what people say about you when you’re not in the room. What makes people think of you? When people think about Walden, what do I want them to think about? I would like for them to think about things like integrity, leadership, confidence, growth mindset, positive mental attitude, encouraging. But if these are things that I would like for people to associate with me, can I really expect them to if I’m constantly resistant to change, undermining people, bringing negative energy to the room and always finding the bad in everything? Of course not.
When building your personal brand, it’s so crucial for your actions to match your words and the way you present yourself. A friend of mine told me about a guy he saw on the bus once who was wearing a very nice, well tailored suit and looked quite professional… but then he was also wearing a beanie that just said the word C*nt (spelled out). My friend called him up on it and asked why he was dressed like that, but wearing a hat like that. He seemed angry that my friend pulled him up on this and snapped back that he wore the hat because he liked it.
This is such a perfect example of someone doing a poor job at representing their personal brand. As a leader in my company and my own business on the side, I wouldn’t want this person on my team. I don’t care if they’re the best BA, software engineer, or whatever; their personal brand has me confused, and I have to ask myself, looking at the whole, would this person have a positive or negative impact on my team and business?
How you represent yourself is your brand. We look for consistency in people, particularly consistency of character. If you’re at church on Sunday and then at Mermaids on Friday, that's inconsistent character, and it makes me wonder what kind of person are you really? And a strong leader will not lower their high standards to meet someone else’s character deficits.
It’s also necessary to make sure that you’re being consistent across all platforms. If you’re representing yourself as a well spoken, compassionate, dedicated professional on LinkedIn, but your Facebook profile picture is you hitting a bong while surrounded by strippers at a Stag Party, I don’t see consistency of character. Do you?
So breaking this down, here are some of the actionable do’s and don’ts of personal branding.
DO be consistent in your character
DO decide what you want to stand for and then LIVE that
DO write down the character traits that you would like for people to think of when they talk about you. Review them daily in the morning and in the evening and start actively looking for opportunities to exhibit them and reflect on opportunities where you didn’t live them. Don’t beat yourself up either - DMGB- Doesn’t Matter, Get Better. You’re learning and growing, and succeeding is just a byproduct of that.
DON’T try to live a double life. You’re not Batman.
DON’T represent yourself one way on one type of media and a totally different way on another. Be consistent across all platforms
DON’T have an ego. This is the greatest roadblock to learning new and better ways of doing things, and getting set in your ways. The only things certain in life are death, taxes, and CHANGE. And you will be left behind if you choose not to learn and adapt. When building for the long term, that trait is far more important than a skillset.
About the Author
Walden Hudson is an American immigrant who came to New Zealand in 2016 to join his partner.
He has a very diverse background that spans from acting, to personal training, working on a ship in Hawaii, to entrepreneurship and leadership.
Walden's particular journey in leadership and intentional personal growth began in 2018 when he started working with successful mentors and made the conscious decision to build a better future for himself and his partner and pursue a path that would enable him to impact more lives.
Walden is currently a Plus Support Team Lead at the global tech giant Shopify, and focused on mentoring, coaching, and developing people and assets outside of his day to day work.