Episode #74 – The Importance of Personal Branding in Your Career

Sharita: Welcome to “The Animal Health Employment Insider,” brought to you by The VET Recruiter. In this podcast, search consultant Stacy Pursell, founder and CEO of The VET Recruiter, provides insight and practical advice for both companies and job seekers in the Animal Health industry and Veterinary profession. The VET Recruiter’s mission is to help Animal Health and Veterinary employers acquire top talent, while helping Animal Health and Veterinary Professionals attain career-enhancing opportunities that increase their quality of life.

In today’s podcast, we’ll be talking about the importance of personal branding in your career. Stacy, thank you for joining us.

Stacy: Hello, Sharita. I’m glad to be here.

Sharita: Stacy, what prompted you to record a podcast about personal branding?

Stacy: Well, it’s something that interests me a great deal for a number of reasons. As an executive recruiter, I see the application of personal branding on a daily basis. I see the benefits of positive branding and the effects of negative branding, and I believe that many professionals don’t understand how their behaviors in the workplace and the employment marketplace can brand them the wrong way. And they’re not even aware that it’s happening.

Sharita: Isn’t the term itself—personal branding—something that’s only been around relatively recently?

Stacy: That’s true. When I started in the recruiting profession, there was no such thing as personal branding. Perhaps more specifically, no one used the phrase personal branding. That’s because personal branding DID exist. It’s just that no one was really talking about it and it wasn’t something that people recognized.

Sharita: So what exactly is personal branding?

Stacy: I’d like to answer that question with a quote by Jay Danzie. That quote is as follows:

“Your smile is your logo, your personality is your business card, how you leave others feeling after having an experience with you becomes your trademark.”

The part of that quote I want to focus on is, “how you leave others feeling after having an experience with you.” That’s pretty much the definition of personal branding: how people feel after having an experience with you. Because how they feel will directly impact what they think about you. Those two things go hand-in-hand.

Sharita: I can see how that would be the case. But how does personal branding work?

Stacy: Well, it’s a process, an interaction between you and other people. And there are two important things to remember about the process of personal branding. First, it’s a never-ending process. As long as you’re alive, you are engaged in personal branding.

Second, when we talk about the process by which personal branding works, it happens as soon as you interact with someone. As soon as you engage with someone, they’re noticing everything about you. That’s just natural. They’re forming an opinion about you, and it’s not even a conscious decision. It’s done subconsciously, but it’s still being done.

Sharita: And the things that they notice about you and their opinions are all part of the experience they have with you?

Stacy: That’s right. And as I said earlier, how they feel about their overall experience with you forms the basis for how they brand you.

Sharita: Stacy, can you control how people brand you? I mean, do you have any real control over your personal brand?

Stacy: You don’t have any outright control, but you do have a lot of influence.

Sharita: What do you mean by influence?

Stacy: There are certain things that you can do to influence the personal branding process, and those things are based primarily on fundamental rules regarding human interaction. Those rules dictate that people are attracted to certain types of other people and they’re repelled by other certain types of people.

First, people are attracted to others who relieve pressure, reduce stress, and do not cause drama in their lives.

Second, people are repelled by others who create pressure and stress and do cause drama in their lives.

Sharita: Okay, that definitely makes sense. No one wants to be around people who create pressure and stress and cause drama!

Stacy: Yes, so what that tells us is that the basis of the experience you provide for other people should involve relieving pressure, reducing stress, and not causing drama. If you are able to accomplish those things, then you are on your way to building a positive personal brand.

Sharita: Stacy, I have a question. What kind of role does social media play in all of this?

Stacy: That is an excellent question, and it’s a very relevant one.

Personal branding as a catchphrase did not exist 20 years ago. Something else that did not exist was social media. In fact, the Internet had barely been born. But now, 20 years later, social media is a huge phenomenon and part of our lives, and that includes our professional lives.

And the fact of the matter is the same rules that apply to personal branding when you engage with someone in person apply to personal branding in terms of social media. That’s because people still have feelings based upon their experience with you. It’s just that in this case, their experience occurs on a social media platform.

Sharita: Stacy, are we talking mainly about LinkedIn here? After all, that’s the professional networking site.

Stacy: That’s true, and employers and hiring managers check out candidates on LinkedIn. However, I can tell you without a shadow of a doubt that hiring managers also check out candidates on other social media platforms. That includes Facebook and Twitter, but it also includes social media sites like Instagram.

If you think that you can post whatever you want on these social media channels and no one from your professional life will see those posts, then you’re mistaken. The rule for this is pretty simple: if you post something on the Internet, including on social media, then you must expect that everyone is going to see it eventually. If you don’t want something to be seen, then do not put it on the Internet or post it on social media.

Sharita: So the branding process works the same on social media as when someone meets you in person?

Stacy: It does! When people see what you’ve posted on social media, they start branding you in their minds. Once again, you don’t have any direct control over how they brand you. However, you can have influence, and you absolutely have control over what you post on social media. So you have direct influence over what you post and you have no direct influence over how people brand you, but you have influence over how they brand you.

Sharita: Stacy, we’ve been talking about branding yourself the right way or branding yourself in a positive fashion. What does that mean? What are some of the right ways to brand yourself?

Stacy: Well, if we’re talking within the professional realm, in the Animal Health industry or the Veterinary profession, you want to brand yourself as someone who provides value. When it comes to your job, the value that you provide is the most important aspect of your professional life. Your current employer hired you because of the value that you provide. A future employer will hire you because of the value that the hiring manager believes you can provide for them.

Sharita: Can you be more specific?

Stacy: I certainly can. There are many forms of value, and there are many different ways that you can provide value. There are your skills, both hard skills or technical skills and soft skills. There’s your experience. All of that is value, and all of that is why an employer would hire you. However, the employer wants all of that value for one main reason. The organization has a problem and wants to solve it. Essentially, that’s what hiring is. Employers have a need in the form of a problem, and they hire someone to help them address that need and solve the problem.

The best thing that can be associated with your personal brand is that you’re a problem solver. You want to do everything you can to convince other people to brand you as someone who can solve problems. If a hiring manager does not think that you’re a problem solver, then they are not going to hire you.

On a previous podcast, I relayed the case study of a candidate who was asked by one of my clients to do a video interview. The candidate told my client that they were having trouble accessing a webcam for the interview.

Sharita: Yes, I remember that case study.

Stacy: That is NOT the way to brand yourself as a problem solver. My client did not want to hear about why the candidate was having trouble accessing a webcam. The hiring manager wanted to the candidate to figure out a way to participate in the video interview. Needless to say, the hiring manager was not impressed in the least.

Sharita: Stacy, something our listeners might want to know is what are the best ways to brand yourself as soon as you meet someone face-to-face, such as in an interview situation?

Stacy: When you first meet someone, you want to make sure their experience with you is a good one and that they feel good about the experience. There are four simple things you can do.

First, be energetic and enthusiastic. Second, smile. In other words, be happy. Third, don’t interrupt or talk over the person. Be actively listening and not just waiting for the other person to finish speaking so you can talk. Fourth, and this is a big one, focus on what the other person wants and not what you want. That’s the best way to engage them and keep them engaged. We’ve discussed this before. This is also known as the “Principle of Reciprocity.”

When you practice the “Principle of Reciprocity,” you’re actively working to relieve pressure and reduce stress in the lives of others. When you strive to give people what they want, you do these things automatically. That means people are going to associate you with positive feelings, and as a result, they’re going to brand in you in a positive fashion in their minds.

Sharita: Is there anything else that you’d like to add before we close out today’s podcast?

Stacy: Yes, I want to say that personal branding has never been more important than it is right now. The reason is because we have never been so interconnected than we are right now. Our ability to communicate with one another is at an all-time high. There’s email, phone calls, texts, the Internet, chat, social media, and the list goes on and on.

Twenty or 30 years ago, the only opportunity you had for personal branding was when you talked with someone on the telephone or met them face-to-face. That is no longer the case. Those represent just two of many opportunities that you have for personal branding. This is why it’s important to be aware of how you’re being branded through every interaction you have with other people.

Sharita: Stacy, thanks so much for all of this great information about personal branding today. I’m sure our listeners have a lot to think about in terms of their career.

Stacy: Thank you, Sharita. I look forward to our next podcast!