A very interesting topic within the personal branding space is building a brand as an entrepreneur versus how to build a personal brand of an employee of a business, in a way that complements the business but still allows you to have your own personal brand and niche within it.
Before we get into the nitty-gritty of personal branding within a company, I should say that you do need to be doing something you are passionate about and interested in, before you build your brand around it. You can, and should, update your profiles and leave them in a ‘created’ stage, but when it comes to building it and amplifying your brand, it will take passion and drive - so if you do not feel this about your job, that will filter through to any followers. If I think back to my Accenture career, I worked in the innovation space, focusing around ideation. We helped people to navigate and come up with new ideas of how to use new technologies to solve problems that they were having. I did this for a year, before going further into how to apply this as a cultural change within a company. I absolutely loved this. There is no doubt that I could have been building my brand around this role as an innovation specialist. Sharing content, anonymized case studies, my thoughts and my experiences.
However, I wasn’t doing this at the time. In fact, I was building a brand almost completely separately to Accenture. Not because I didn’t love my career at Accenture, but because I didn’t realize that I could marry the two together, that personal branding and being an employee are not mutually exclusive. I had no grasp of the fact that this could, in reality benefit not only the company, but also my own career as I was progressing. So before you start to progress with employee branding, you need to look at your employees - or yourself - and question, are these people in jobs that they are passionate about. And do they understand that building a personal brand around their current role is something that you not only believe they should do, but that you actively encourage them to do by giving them the time and space to do it.
If you’ve decided to invest in personal branding for your employees, it shouldn’t be with the motivation of short-term goals, it should be a long-term investment for those people and for your business, with the understanding that the stronger the personal brands are within your business, the stronger your business will be. You should view this as an opportunity to help people with their careers, whilst also strengthening their personal brand and your business. As a business owner myself, who has recently grown a team from just me to three full-time members of staff and two extremely active freelancers, I understand how hard it is to encourage a team of people to build their personal brands when they could be using that time on their own internal projects. It’s not easy to motivate this and it often gets put in the backlog.
However, I’ve recognized that it’s crucial to the people in my company and it’s my responsibility to them that I will help them grow their careers and networks, and developing their personal brands as employees is a part of that responsibility. It’s also important as a representative of the brand, it helps the brand to get out there, it adds credibility and provides more platforms for opportunity to get out into the market. The main difference between entrepreneur branding and employee branding comes down to the fact of what is your motivation behind it. What are you looking to achieve? If you’re an entrepreneur, it’s very likely that you’re looking to achieve leads for a business - which can, actually, cause you to not potentially serve and give, as much as you would hope. However, if you’re looking at it as the employee of a business, leads are not going to be your number one goal (unless you are in sales), you will be doing this because it’s your passion.
In terms of where to start, it comes to thinking about that cultural place, that cultural change you want to make by emphasizing personal branding and making it something you see as a priority within your business. Once you’ve done this, it’s about making your employees understand personal branding and understanding the ways it could grow their career. It’s your responsibility to empower this growth and teach them how to do it by defining their niche, understanding what purpose they serve and uncovering how passionate they are in their roles.