Career Development

personal branding

Personal Branding: Understanding why it matters

1200 900 Brenda Akinyi

Personal Branding is anything that distinguishes you from others. It’s your trademark — how people refer to you. It’s what people know about you. Your personal brand is how you get to tell your story. So beyond getting people to know you, think about what you want to be known for.

Understanding why our brand matters and how we benefit from having strong personal branding is the first step towards learning how to build one. A powerful personal brand is beneficial in various ways, which include:

  • Builds your confidence– This increases as you continue to harness your strengths and also allows you to meet goals more easily.
  • Gives you credibility — when you are known for a unique set of characteristics, you build your reputation around them.

Avoid trying to be too many things to too many people. You cannot be a master of everything.

  • Enables you to create and leave your mark — You leave your legacy by consistently delivering quality results which you can tap into years later.
  • Helps you to connect with your target audience — Honing your skills and showing a particular disposition enables you to relate to your target audience a lot faster.
  • Distinguishes you from the competition — It’s no longer about how good you look on paper. You need to show why you should be selected. To do this, you need to deliver on what makes you unique – through personal branding.
  • Helps you garner the support you need — Build “emotional bank accounts.” (When you help other people they will be willing to help you when you reach out to them).
  • Sells you — A powerful brand differentiates you and sets you apart from others. In turn, you lead more; you win more and eventually, you earn more.

Establishing your personal brand:

When trying to establish personal branding, ask yourself a couple of questions to understand where you currently stand:

  • What are you most passionate about?
  • What are your best skills/strongest attributes?
  • How would you summarize yourself in a 2-minute story?
  • How will someone describe you when they are referring you to an opportunity?
  • Think about how others would perceive you, seek feedback from colleagues, family, and friends. Note down the answers, start living them and keep building your brand.

As you begin to build your personal brand, selling yourself is key. Remember: It’s no good being the best-kept secret in the world.

How do you sell yourself?

  • Understand what is it about you that people cannot replicate – What’s your unique skill-set/superpower? Our strengths may not be visible to us! You might want to have this discussion with those who know you well and can speak about/tell your strengths.
  • Build a robust professional network – Build your personal brand with your network. Your most precious resources will always be in your richest resources.
  • Upgrade your profile Don’t be brilliant and anonymous. Find ways to put yourself out there -speak to people, write if you can and showcase your brilliance. (Speak and Write)
  • Be authentic – Trying to be someone else produces a hybrid of what you should be –If you talk like everyone else and sound like someone else you’ll never stand out.-

In conclusion, the key to building a powerful/remarkable brand is to start soon and consistently make progress. Let go the need to be perfect and instead, focus on continuous learning and improvement. Personal branding is a lifelong journey.

What are some of the tips that have worked for you when it comes to building your personal brand? Do share….

In the meantime, here’s a related article.

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career advice

Career Advice: Kenya’s Leading HR Pros Share Career Tips

1400 933 Brenda Akinyi

This year we’ve hosted several career advice panels in Nairobi to introduce rising professionals to industry experts in their chosen fields.

We recently had the privilege of hosting Angeline Mutua, Chief Manager, Talent Management & Staff Development at Kenya Revenue Authority, Christopher Karani, Talent Manager at Unilever, and Christopher Mwirigi, Learning and Development Manager at I&M Bank to discuss key trends in HR, career advice for advancement, and wisdom on personal and professional growth.

Here are some of the insights they shared about professional growth and career advancement:

Advocate for your next opportunity

Learn how to sell yourself. Be bold and ask for what you want. Angeline shared that she was able to transition from a career in Communications to being an Executive Administrator and finally into HR by consistently seeking feedback and advocating for the next opportunity. She explained how early in her career, she would ask to take on new roles during meetings and presentations, building her skill set while showing her boss that she was capable of new responsibilities.

She shared that she was impressed with the initiative she’s seen from her younger colleagues: “This generation is not going to sit and wait for opportunities! They know they won’t just have a development plan handed to them.” Remember that if you don’t advocate for yourself, who will?

Stay up to date with industry news and current events

Christopher Mwirigi offered the career advice that keeping up to date with industry and business news could help you have meaningful conversations with leaders within your company and position yourself for advancement. Subscribe to industry newsletters and read the paper — not only to impress your boss but also to enrich your own understanding of your company’s work. Ask yourself: If you were in an elevator with your CEO, what would you want to discuss with them?

Chris Karani reiterated the importance of reading and continuously learning. According to a report by the World Economic Forum, some of the skills you know today will be irrelevant in the next two years. This means you need to seek out ways in which you will remain relevant in your career and workplace in general.

“Understand your industry and organization inside out and the ways in which you add value. Keep in mind that organizations are less afraid of losing you but more afraid of retaining an individual who adds no value to them,” said Chris. In the recruitment process, take the time to understand the organization you want to work for, what they do, the impact they make and what value you can bring on board.

There is no conventional way of landing your dream job

Take on the journey of self-discovery, start from where you are to get to where you want to be. It doesn’t matter what you studied, or what you are currently doing, keep going and seek out ways to drive yourself towards where your goal.

Angeline started her career journey in communications for a number of years, tried out other roles, before getting into Human Resources. Christopher Karani studied Computer Science in campus and currently uses technology to improve Human Resources practices across his organization, while Christopher Mwirigi’s first passion was football, and now applies the same teamwork and confidence in his HR career, focusing on learning and development.

Find a mentor

Mentorship is key to career and personal development. You may be lucky enough to find a mentor in a current or former supervisor, but more often, you will need to be proactive in seeking a mentor.

Is there a leader you admire in your organization? Or perhaps you know someone outside of work who is great at a particular skill set that you’d like to work on. LinkedIn could also be a valuable tool for reaching out to a potential mentor. Chris Karani offered the career advice that he made a list of professionals on LinkedIn with HR positions he aspired to, and then reached out to each of them with a thoughtful list of questions. One of the professionals who responded has been his mentor ever since!

This example highlights an important bit of career advice — be sure to approach a potential mentor with a clear “ask” and discussion questions, so that they feel their time is being used productively. And remember — sometimes finding the right mentor can be challenging but don’t be discouraged, you will find someone who is a natural fit to guide you with their advice and feedback.

Your attitude is fundamental

While confidence, intellect, and knowledge are key when it comes to making it in any field, your attitude has the potential to open doors for you. This could be as simple as being proactive when it comes to learning; often times you don’t have to have all that’s listed in a job description but your willingness to learn and grow sets you apart.

Part of having a positive attitude is not being afraid to fail. It is often said that failure is the best teacher. You learn how not do certain things, how not to act and it shows you what doesn’t work. No matter where you are in your career at the moment, remember you can always begin again and do better. Always focus on the possibilities of success, not the potential for failure!

Thanks again to our incredible panelists for their wisdom and career advice. Want to make sure you’re on the invite list for our next Careers event in Nairobi? Sign up for our newsletter here.

Related: Seven young business leaders in Kenya share the best career advice they ever received