Jeff Bezos once shared a famous quote that goes, “Your brand is what people say about you when you’re not in the room.” In the past, the term “branding” was only used for businesses. However, personal branding has become fundamental not only for businesses but also for people today. In today’s professional environment, branding is the key to success, regardless of your major. Taking control of your personal brand gives you the power over your own narrative and enables you to present yourself in the best possible light in an oversaturated world.
On that note, ICAEW recently hosted a fire chat session with Joe Escobedo, the CEO of Esco Media, a Digital Marketing Professor at ESSEC Business School, and a B2B Marketing Asia podcast host, to share about the importance of personal branding and how you can build credibility within the industry. Here are some of the key takeaways from the session.
1. Ask yourself “What do you want to be known for?” or “How do I want to define myself?”
You don’t need to be Steve Jobs or Oprah Winfrey to have a great personal brand. So the question is how should your start defining yourselves and build your own reputation? It all comes down to your effort in continually curating content to grow your digital presence and how you expand your online presence. Joe suggested that when it comes to online interactions, the subject or introduction of your messages matters. A common mistake that people make is to tell their entire life story early on, which in retrospect, the message will not well-received if it’s intended for senior executives who are time-sensitive. Therefore, it is better to craft an introduction that is concise and impactful to effectively build a good rapport with your audience.
Therefore understanding who our audience is is key. According to Joe, “If you’re aiming for directors or multinationals, LinkedIn is the way to go. However, if you’re targeting a younger audience, Instagram is a much better channel.” Remember that you will never get a second chance to make a first impression, so take the time to plan how to set yourself apart by building trust and relationships with the target audience.
2. There is value in everything that you do and it is worth sharing if you know how to do it right
When it comes to personal branding for young professionals, their first thought might be, “Where do I even start?”. Joe suggested making a list of your target employers and companies you aspire to work with. By having that list, you can begin looking through the role that you want to achieve in the future. For example, if you’re going to be in a junior or executive role in finance, you may use that list to approach and connect with the company’s Finance Manager or HR manager through a job portal like LinkedIn. Regardless of your major, whether finance, accounting, or data science, there is value in everything you do. You might not be as creative when it comes to expressing your talent, but there are many exciting things about your industry that you can share.
Your honesty, transparency, and authenticity will differentiate you in the long run. Joe also talked about how the people within the finance and accounting industry have a distinct way of analyzing news, headlines, and new tools, bringing new and unique perspectives to the table. This trait alone can help you stand out for example on LinkedIn, which is now overly saturated by marketers or salespeople who lack the analysis capability. Developing an exceptional online presence will not happen overnight, it is imperative that you continuously communicate your personal brand to your audience in a genuine way.
3. Accept the fact that your first post will be the hardest, but it is something you will have to overcome
Successful personal branding will differentiate you from your peers and enable you to build trust with prospective employers and clients. While it has become easier for today’s generation to connect with the right person through online platforms such as LinkedIn, taking that first step will be the hardest. Speaking from personal experience, Joe shared his personal experience on how he hesitated to post his very first video on LinkedIn due to his speech impediment years ago when he first took to online platforms to build his online presence. Despite his fear, he did it anyway, which led to an overwhelmingly positive response of people asking why he hasn’t done it sooner. According to Joe, “Your first post will be the hardest, and you will never think it is good enough, but it’s something you will have to overcome. At the end of the day, all of us will always have room to improve.”
In order to expand his presence and grow his network online, Joe chose an unconventional route by interviewing many senior executives while featuring bits of himself in his podcasts. While listening to the guest’s expert opinions, has helped him build relationships while learning more in-depth about each industry. “For example, I learned a ton from Amy Tee, Head of Marketing at ICAEW GCSEA, about the finance and accounting space and how they approach their marketing,” said Joe. With that, he encourages young professionals to start building their personal brand, which will not only empower your career growth but also potentially open doors for you to meet more like-minded individuals within the industry.