The HR function has changed dramatically over the years.
Once dubbed the ‘fun police’, HR now wears multiple hats in an organisation, residing in the very unique position of understanding both founders and executives, and every other role below them in the workforce.
This function has become so important that HRDs often have a place around the boardroom table, some even making it to executive status. The HR function is clearly incredibly important in business, but it’s no longer just a ‘function’.
More than ever, who you are, what you stand for, and your own personal brand have become a crucial element of relating to your workforce and making yourself visible on the professional stage, for your current role and any roles to come.
Here are three key factors to consider when attempting to build your own personal brand...
Figure out what you stand for
Your personal brand is ‘personal’ for a reason, it’s completely unique to you. It can be difficult to know what you want your professional network to see of you. Not everyone wants to show every aspect of themselves – the same version their family or Facebook friends would see – and that makes complete sense.
It’s not always easy deciphering the blurred lines between your ‘professional’ self and the person you really are. But a big part of this is being self-aware and purposefully deciding what values you want to embody in the professional ‘version’ of yourself that you give to the world.
Whether it’s on LinkedIn or in-person, networking effectively is an important part of developing your personal brand. If you don’t have a network to showcase yourself to, who is it for?
Unfortunately, not many people know how to network effectively. In terms of in-person networking, many people struggle to know how to break into conversations as well, as breaking out of conversations, during a networking event. Do you need to plan small talk topics, or get straight to business?
Generally, it’s a good rule of thumb to be yourself during networking events and take a natural interest in the person you are talking to. A lot of networking involves asking people questions about themselves, and essentially having a natural conversation with them.
You don’t need to ‘get down to business’ straight away, as this is usually off-putting. Instead, following up with a LinkedIn connection, even whilst you’re with that person, can be a good way to make sure your conversation with them wasn’t for nothing. Afterall, you never know where that link could take you in the future.
Be personal, but not too personal
The hit TV show Madmen depicts the life of Donald Draper, a high-flying creative director at an advertising firm in 1960s New York. The premise of the series revolves around Draper navigating his almost-perfect professional life with his often-tumultuous personal life. As Draper soon realises, navigating the boundaries between the two can be extremely challenging.
Obviously, the professional world is markedly different to the way it was in the 1960s, primarily because there is no longer such an intense distinction between the personal and the professional.
Despite this, HR practitioners would be wise to tread this line carefully and be selective about what they decide to let their network see, as this may be something they grow to regret in the future. Much of this is likely to be shared on LinkedIn, where users are increasingly posting personal aspects of their lives.
Victoria Moffatt, founder and MD of LexRex Communications, says that showing vulnerability on the site is good for developing a personal brand: “LinkedIn is, to all intents and purposes, a social network that makes it easier for you to build relationships – often with a view to business development. People do business with people; therefore it’s a bit of a myth to suggest that it has become ‘too’ personal. There’s an appetite for developing trust and an inherent ability on LinkedIn to develop initial relationships which can convert into business.
“Certainly, for some people there may be content on there that, for them, would feel more appropriate for Facebook or other social media sites. But for others, showing vulnerability and a bit of personality is all part and parcel of their personal brand, it’s how they sell themselves and their product. And therein lies the beauty of social media sites – you can simply unfollow when you don’t like somebody’s content.”
Ultimately, developing a personal brand takes time and a concerted effort, but it primarily boils down to understanding what you want your professional identity to stand for, knowing the keys to networking effectively, and ensuring you’re the perfect amount of ‘personal’, which in-turn makes you more unique and memorable. Then, in no time at all, you’ll be on your way to having a well-defined and attractive professional personal brand.