Introduction - Move from job-for-life to career
Life has become faster, automated, and longer! Thanks to advances in technology and healthcare, modern life is ever more interconnected, and we're all living and working for more years than our grandparents could ever have foreseen. On the face of it, this all good news, however, how prepared are we as a society to embrace this rapid rate of change? Interconnectedness means that we can access anything we want, any time of day, but what about the corollary? We're also accessible 24/7 both in our professional and personal lives.
Living longer also has implications for corporations and our working lives. According to an MIT Sloan Management report, the traditional 3-stage model of education-work-retirement will disappear to be replaced with a more agile, multi-staged model. With these changes will come a mix of employments, both for organisations and through self-employment, across different industries over an extended lifetime of work.
CPD (Continuous Personal Development) and learning will be an integral part of our career path and, with it, the personal brand.
So, what is a Personal Brand?
Personal branding is the process of creating a desired image that others associate with your name. Everything you say and do, whether in person, in writing or in digital form contributes to that association. Your personal brand is the sum of all these actions, including your day-to-day interactions with individuals and organisations.
Creating this personal brand is an area of our lives where we can all take positive action to influence the outcome. Our personal brand is just that, personal. We can craft it and use it to help us stand out from the crowd and accentuate our differences and competencies. Just like a product brand, it informs people about our personality, values, passions and strengths – the things that make us exceptional and different.
Importance of the Personal Brand
Our heightened connectivity and visibility mean that careful authoring of our personal brand is essential for forging a successful path through the modern business environment.
For many employers, scrutiny of social bios on platforms such as LinkedIn are not only a starting place but a key milestone in the recruitment process. Many applicants will not survive this phase, particularly at early career stages where networks are in their infancy.
It's often said that people buy from people, and a strong personal brand helps to attract targeted opportunities from companies who have sought out our specific skillset and personal values. Personal brands build trust in ourselves and in our relationships resulting in increased confidence and peace-of-mind as we navigate our busy business lives.
There are many other benefits of building our own brand; however, one key positive is creating our individual baseline that will inform our future business decisions, whether they concern employment, business relationships or even dipping a toe into a new industry.
Hand-written notes as a building block of the Personal Brand
We mentioned before about standing out from the crowd, differentiating ourselves from others that may, at first glance, have similar positives as ourselves. One way to guarantee a positive impact is a hand-written note. When was the last time you received one? You can probably remember it clearly because it’s so long ago. Very few people in business use this powerful medium to get their message to a target audience. We spend thousands on clever campaigns and gimmicks and ignore this most effective tool.
Hand-written notes say much about the sender. Instead of an email headed ‘Follow-up’, a note tells the receiver that you really appreciated the time, dinner, chance meeting etc. It says ‘I value you (the time we spent together / the opportunity / the gift etc.) enough to invest some of my time to say so’.
It only takes a few minutes to write, but the positive attributes it bears upon the sender are enormous. Sending hand-written notes is seen to be a thoughtful, genuine act, and those who send them are seen as being a cut above. It literally is a secret weapon!
Hand-written notes build solid relationships. They get beyond the gate-keepers and reinforce your values and commitment to your colleagues and contacts, making you a memorable, valued individual in all your networks.
Building a personal brand is increasingly becoming one of the most important and valuable weapons in our 21st century business armoury. Setting ourselves apart is essential for a successful career. The hand-written note is a simple yet powerful tool in the creation of that brand. It is available to everyone and only requires a small regular commitment to deliver significant benefits in all aspects of our lives. It helps us demonstrate appreciation, empathy, recognition, love and any other emotion that helps us to connect and make a difference to the people in both our personal and business lives. And it helps make us calm, confident individuals along the way.
Without doubt, hand-written notes are an essential building block for the Personal Brand.