By Leanne Calderwood, CMP.
You’ve likely heard it said you should “build a personal brand.”
And when you work for a larger organization, you may question whether having a personal brand is essential. Your organization can carry the brand, and you accept the sales and service of that brand!
Yes, this has worked in the past for most sales and service managers, but there is an increasing demand for individuals to create and carry a brand as well! The importance of personal branding in hospitality has never been more relevant.
Even without intentionally building a brand, you have a brand – and people can find your brand when they Google you or find you on LinkedIn. If you are on the internet, you have a brand. Your clients, your prospects, other suppliers and competitors, are checking out your internet footprint. The question shouldn’t be “should I have a personal brand” but rather, “what can I do to control the brand messaging that is out there about me?”
First off, let’s define personal branding. As defined by Wikipedia, Personal branding is the conscious and intentional effort to create and influence public perception of an individual by positioning them as an authority in their industry, elevating their credibility, and differentiating themselves from the competition, to ultimately advance their career, increase their circle of influence, and have a more significant impact.
The process of personal branding involves finding your uniqueness, building a reputation on the things you want to be known for, and then allowing yourself to be known for them. Ultimately, the goal is to create something that conveys a message and that can be monetized.
There are several variations on this definition, but here is what is consistent about them:
- Create your public persona
- Position yourself as an authority and thought leader
- Setting yourself apart from the competition
- Choosing what unique qualities about you to amplify
- Convey a message to your target audience
As a hospitality professional, developing and projecting a personal brand can go hand-in-hand with your organization’s brand. This combination is powerful for both you and your organization. Here are six reasons why creating a personal brand is so important:
- You control the messaging – when you create a brand for yourself, you choose what the industry thinks of you, regardless of the product you represent. Over time, it will alter the results Google pulls up for you. If you have a LinkedIn profile, it will likely appear as either the first or second result, and other social media platforms will also come up. If you write a blog or host a video series, it will also start to drift to the top of the search results for your name. Having a personal brand will elevate your active platforms and channels, thus giving you control over what people will see and read about you.
- It humanizes your product – by putting yourself out there as representative of your product or service, it builds trust in your consumer – people buy from people. People start to trust the product when there is an individual with a strong personal brand backing the product; in the same way that more prominent brands use celebrities as the face of their product, you become the face of your product as well! You may not be as famous as Michael Jordan, but what Michael did to humanize Nike, you can do for your service as well. Your organization will appreciate the additional support you’ve created through your brand.
- It helps you stand out from your competition – Brand builders are few and far between; when you create a brand, you start to become more “top of mind” for customers when a need for your product or service arises. You’ll be referred based on the brand you’ve created. “Hey, you need a widget? Ya, call Joe Awesomeness; he’s (fill in the blank with how you’ve positioned your brand!) By simply showing up through your brand, you have set yourself apart. By providing value to your prospects sets you apart even further. Using your brand as a relationship selling tool versus a hard sell, people will recognize your contributions.
- It opens doors for job opportunities – Similar to standing out from your competition, as you gain recognition in your industry through your branding, you may find yourself in demand for other positions! The value organizations place on branding and marketing has increased, as has your currency for future opportunities. Many job recruiters will use LinkedIn and Google to research potential job candidates, so going back to point #1, if you control the messaging by creating a personal brand, job recruiters will see your amplified brand. Internally at your organization, someone with a solid personal brand (and subsequent sales) also stands out against their colleagues for promotion opportunities. To optimize your “promotion punch,” including as much of your organization’s product or service as possible in your content will help your internal stakeholders to take notice of your branding work.
- It opens doors for recognition – It’s only natural when you have an amplified brand that others take notice of as well. Whether internal at your company or through industry recognition, you may consider yourself because you come to mind. Remember, good work and giving of yourself freely should not be contingent on recognition. It does, however, become a pleasant bi-product of your work. Regardless of the amount of recognition you may receive as a result of your brand work, keep these wise words from Denis Waitley, speaker, writer, and motivator, in mind – “Don’t wait for an employer, friend, or mentor to show appreciation for your work. Take pride in your efforts daily.”
- It creates an opportunity to amplify your brand further – Your brand can extend beyond your organization, prospects, and clients. When you strengthen your brand, many people start to pay attention to what you are promoting. The possibilities are endless, but some joint opportunities include speaking engagements, soundbites for industry publications and media, or interviews for blogs, vlogs, and podcasts. Having a strong personal brand puts you “top of mind” for industry peers. As opportunities arise, your name and brand will stand out as someone contributing to the conversation.
The importance of personal branding in hospitality and events cannot be understated. There could be many additional reasons for amplifying your brand and depending on your industry; you may find some other compelling reasons that are very specific for you. The reasons listed here can span across industries and tenure in your industry. Whether you are a new professional, or a seasoned expert in your field, starting a personal brand will elevate your game.
I look forward to learning more about you and YOUR personal brand!
Leanne Calderwood believes developing a personal brand is key to setting yourself apart in any market. Serving in the meetings and events industry for over 20 years, Leanne has seen the power of developing a personal brand and using LinkedIn to build trust in her B2B community. Her blog and resources at leannecalderwood.com help hospitality professionals find their voice and create a compelling brand that attracts leads and opportunities.
When she’s not talking branding and online marketing, you can find Leanne drinking wine, making jam, and gardening at her home in Kelowna, BC, with her husband, two teenage sons, and her dog, Farls Barkley.