How to Get Your Employees to Build Their Personal Brand

November 24, 2023

What Is Personal Branding?

Personal branding is the practice of your employees marketing themselves and their careers as brands. It’s about creating a unique identity and coherent message across all professional interactions. In the digital age, personal branding has evolved to encompass online presence management, thought leadership, and network building.

The Key Differences Between Personal Branding and Employee Advocacy.

The term ‘employee advocacy’ is often used alongside personal branding but they are distinct concepts with different focuses and outcomes. Here are the key differences:

Personal Branding:

  1. Definition: Personal branding is the process by which individuals differentiate themselves and stand out from a crowd by identifying and articulating their unique value proposition. It's about building and promoting their personal image and expertise.
  2. Focus: The focus is on the individual – their skills, experiences, values, and professional goals. It’s about crafting a personal narrative that highlights their unique professional identity.
  3. Benefit to Individual: It enhances the individual’s professional reputation, opens up networking opportunities, and can lead to career advancements and personal development opportunities.
  4. Control: The individual has full control over their personal brand. They decide how to present themselves, what content to create and share, and how to engage with their network.
  5. Outcome: Effective personal branding leads to increased recognition and respect in one’s industry, potential thought leadership opportunities, and greater professional autonomy and opportunities.

Employee Advocacy:

  1. Definition: Employee advocacy refers to the promotion of a company by its employees. It's when employees share positive insights, news, or information about their workplace on their personal social media channels or within their personal networks.
  2. Focus: The primary focus is on the company’s brand, products, or services. Employees act as brand ambassadors, extending the company's reach and credibility through their networks.
  3. Benefit to Company: It increases brand awareness, builds trust with a wider audience, and can potentially lead to higher engagement and sales. It leverages the authenticity of employees’ voices to enhance the company’s reputation.
  4. Control: Generally, the company may provide guidelines or content to share, and the messaging aligns closely with the company’s marketing and communication strategies.
  5. Outcome: Successful employee advocacy results in a stronger corporate brand presence and often a better internal culture, as employees feel more engaged and integral to the company’s success.

Company Benefits of Getting Employees to Build Their Personal Brand.

When employees invest in their personal brands, it's not just the individual who benefits; companies also reap significant rewards. A workforce with strong personal brands can elevate the company's overall brand, driving growth and success in various ways:

Enhanced Company Reputation:

  • Brand Ambassadors: Employees with strong personal brands act as authentic brand ambassadors, enhancing the company’s reputation.
  • Increased Credibility: Their professional credibility can reflect positively on the company, building trust among clients and partners.

Broader Reach and Visibility:

  • Expanded Network: Employees' personal networks offer new avenues for company exposure and brand reach.
  • Social Media Influence: Their presence and influence on social media platforms can significantly extend the company's marketing reach.

Attracting Talent and Business:

  • Talent Magnet: Companies with employees known for their expertise are more attractive to top talent looking for inspiring workplaces.
  • New Business Opportunities: Personal networks can lead to new business opportunities, partnerships, and collaborations.

Innovation and Thought Leadership:

  • Diverse Insights: Employees with strong personal brands often bring unique perspectives and innovative ideas, fostering a culture of thought leadership.
  • Industry Leadership: The collective personal brands within the company can position it as a leader in its industry.

Improved Employee Engagement and Retention:

  • Employee Satisfaction: Supporting personal branding can improve job satisfaction, as employees feel more valued and empowered.
  • Lower Turnover Rates: This, in turn, can lead to higher retention rates, reducing the costs and disruption of staff turnover.

Enhanced Marketing and Sales Efforts:

  • Organic Marketing: Employees sharing their professional achievements and company-related content contribute to organic marketing efforts.
  • Sales Opportunities: Personal branding efforts, especially in sales roles, can directly translate into increased sales and revenue.

Corporate culture and values promotion:

  • Culture Advocacy: Employees with strong personal brands often exemplify and promote the company's culture and values.
  • Values Alignment: Their personal brand narratives can reinforce the company's core values and mission to external audiences.

Benefits for Employees Developing Their Personal Brand.

In the modern professional landscape, a personal brand is not just an asset; it's a necessity for career growth and sustainability. It's about carving out a distinct professional identity and leveraging it to stand out in a competitive market. Here's why building a personal brand is essential:

Establishing Credibility and Trust:

  • Expert Status: A personal brand positions you as an expert or thought leader in your field, attracting respect and credibility.
  • Trustworthy Professional Image: It builds a trustworthy image that colleagues, clients, and industry peers respect.

Enhanced Professional Opportunities:

  • Networking and Connections: A well-crafted personal brand can open doors to new networking opportunities and valuable professional connections.
  • Access to New Opportunities: It often leads to invitations for speaking engagements, collaborations, and consulting roles.

Control Over Online Narrative:

  • Positive Online Presence: In an era where online searches are routine, a personal brand ensures a positive and controlled online presence.
  • Professional Legacy: It allows you to shape and control the narrative of your professional legacy.

Personal Empowerment and Confidence:

  • Self-Awareness: Developing a personal brand requires self-reflection, leading to greater self-awareness and clarity in career goals.
  • Confidence in Abilities: It boosts confidence as your employees become more recognised for their expertise and contributions.

8 Steps Employers Can Take to Help Employees Build Their Personal Brand.

Employers can play a significant role in helping employees build their personal brands. Here are eight key steps you can take to facilitate this process:

  1. Provide Training and Development Opportunities: Organise workshops, seminars, and training sessions focused on personal branding, social media literacy, content creation, and effective communication skills. Providing access to external courses or webinars on personal branding and related topics can also be beneficial.
  2. Encourage Thought Leadership: Motivate employees to share their expertise and insights. This can be through writing articles for the company blog, speaking at industry events, or participating in panel discussions. Recognise and promote these efforts internally and externally.
  3. Offer Tools and Resources: Provide access to tools that can aid in personal branding efforts, such as graphic design software for creating content, platforms for blogging, or professional-grade tools for video and podcast production. This also includes providing guidance on how to use these tools effectively.
  4. Create Internal Platforms for Visibility: Develop internal channels where employees can showcase their work and achievements. This could be an internal newsletter, a dedicated section on the company intranet, or regular spotlight features in team meetings.
  5. Support Networking and Professional Growth: Encourage and support participation in professional networking events, industry conferences, and other opportunities where employees can build and showcase their personal brands. Covering costs for such events or providing time off can be powerful incentives.
  6. Mentorship and Coaching Programs: Establish mentorship programs where more experienced employees can guide others in developing their personal brands. These mentors can provide insights based on their own experiences, helping mentees navigate the nuances of personal branding in a professional context.
  7. Create Opportunities for Employee-Led Initiatives: Encourage and support employees to lead or participate in projects and initiatives that align with their personal and professional interests. This could include leading a new internal task force, community outreach programs, or innovation drives. Such initiatives not only build leadership skills but also allow employees to align these activities with their personal brand.
  8. Feedback and Personal Brand Reviews: Incorporate personal branding into regular performance reviews or provide a platform where employees can receive constructive feedback on their personal branding efforts. This could involve discussions on how their personal brand aligns with their career aspirations and the company's goals, and suggestions on areas for improvement or new strategies to explore.

Risks and Challenges in Personal Branding.

From an employer's perspective, while encouraging employees to develop their personal brands has numerous benefits, it also comes with certain risks that need to be managed:

  • Misalignment with Company Values: Employees' personal brands might not always align with the company's values or image. If an employee expresses opinions or behaves in ways that conflict with the company's ethos, it could reflect poorly on the organisation.
  • Risk of Information Leakage: In their efforts to establish thought leadership or industry authority, employees might inadvertently share sensitive or proprietary company information, leading to potential breaches of confidentiality.
  • Distraction from Core Responsibilities: Building a personal brand requires time and effort. There's a risk that employees might become so focused on their personal branding activities that it distracts them from their primary job responsibilities, affecting productivity.
  • Over-Reliance on Individual Employees: A company might become overly reliant on employees with strong personal brands, especially in client-facing roles. If such employees leave the company, it could lead to a loss of clients or diminished trust in the company's brand.
  • Potential for Conflicts of Interest: As employees build their personal brands, they might engage in activities or form associations that pose a conflict of interest with their roles in the company. For example, they might be approached for consultancy by competitors or engage in projects that compete with their employer's interests.
"In today’s B2B world, employee advocacy and personal branding are powerful catalysts for business growth. When you empower your employees to share their authentic voices and experiences, they transform into credible ambassadors, significantly amplifying the company's reach and trust in the market."

Paul Mills
CEO & Founder, VCMO

How VCMO Can Help Your Employees Develop Their Personal Brand.

Our Fractional Marketing Executives can be hired to help your employees develop their personal brand and provide the following support:

  • Strategic Consulting on Personal Branding Policies: We can assist you with developing a comprehensive policy or set of guidelines for personal branding. This could include defining the scope, boundaries, and best practices that align with your company's image and culture, while allowing employees the freedom to express their professional identities.
  • Training and Workshops: We can deliver tailored workshops for employees on personal branding. Topics might include effective social media use, content creation, public speaking, networking strategies, and understanding how to align personal branding efforts with company values.
  • LinkedIn Social Selling Workshops: Through our preferred LinkedIn partner we can facilitate bespoke training on all elements of using LinkedIn for personal branding and business development. This includes the basics of setting up and optimising a profile through to advanced use of Sales Navigator.
  • Personal Brand Audits and Action Plans: We can conduct personal brand audits across your internal teams to evaluate the current state of each employee’s brand. Based on this, we can provide individualised action plans outlining steps for brand enhancement and alignment with company objectives.
  • Content Creation Support: We can provide resources and guidance on creating impactful content that resonates with both the employee's personal brand and the company's messaging. This includes support in blog writing, video production, podcasting, and other forms of content that bolster the employee's industry presence.
  • Social Media Strategy and Management: We can advise on and help implement effective social media strategies tailored to individual employees. This includes selecting the right platforms, creating a content calendar, understanding analytics, and building engagement in a way that reflects positively on both the employee and the company.
  • Ongoing Mentorship and Coaching: We can offer continuous mentorship and coaching through our Marketing Mentorship Program. This includes one-on-one sessions to monitor progress, refine strategies, and provide feedback.

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