How to build your personal brand

If you’re on the cusp of entering a finance career, the chances are you may not yet have given your personal brand a second thought. Good grief!

Actually, you’re probably not the only one, so let’s not give ourselves a hard time, here! There are tons of fellow school leavers and graduates out there who have literally no idea about the fabulously coined term ‘personal brand.’ So those of you reading this article right now have stumbled across the dragon’s lair of some finance career advice golden nuggets of sorts.

Personal brand in business

Top business and finance professionals today are all over the personal brand. If you haven’t heard much about it yet, then here’s the deal: a personal brand is an essential part of your progression as a professional in the finance industry. In a nutshell, it refers to how you are perceived by others as a professional. It’s what you’re known for, from your strengths and skills to your appearance and character. And the best bit… you can build it yourself!

Finance professionals all over the world take the time and effort to shape their own personal brands in order to make connections, open up opportunities and establish themselves in their specialist areas. The advantage of beginning to build your own personal brand now as a school leaver, student or graduate, is that it’s one way of standing out from the crowd, understanding and flaunting what’s unique and employable about you, and therefore eventually nailing you a job!

So, how do you build your personal brand?

All of that hard thinking you’ve been doing to work out what your key skills and attributes are for your finance job applications thankfully also goes towards some core groundwork for the first steps in building the glorious entity that is the ‘personal brand.’

If you’ve taken the time to think about what you’re good at, it might also be a good idea to ask others their opinions on what they think your top skills and attributes are too. Once you’ve got the gist of this, you can try to formulate a short phrase that defines the type of professional you think you are and what you aspire to be. Ask yourself: who are you? What do you do? What makes you great at doing that? Yes, this does sound a bit naff, but the purpose is to get you focused on the image of yourself you want to portray to your potential employers. It also provides you with a framework to build around.

Once you’ve got your power phrase, you can start to consider the types of things you can proactively do to project this image. It needs to infiltrate your online profile and presence, your applications and your interactions with any representatives from your chosen industry, from insight day and internship networking to formal interviews.

Here are a few things you can try out to help you build up your personal brand:

  • Start a blog. You could use this as a platform to develop your own commercial awareness as well as a channel to portray your interests in your chosen industry to your prospective employees. Set up links to your blog on your LinkedIn profile; it’s clickable and will encourage people to find out more about you. The key is to get your blog just right. Be interesting and opinionated when necessary about industry news, but be careful not to blab on too much! No one enjoys an over-zealous blogger with nothing meaningful to say, so take care that your blog doesn’t become a detriment to your personal brand if you choose to experiment with this.
  • Take up some relevant extracurricular activities. They do say that actions speak louder than words! If you get involved with activities that actively develop and demonstrate your flagship brand pointers, then the personal brand itself becomes twice as powerful. For example, if you want to showcase your exceptional communication skills, get involved with public speaking.
  • Cull your online profiles of things that go against ‘the brand.’ It’s one of the first rules in HR: negative news and press is bad for the brand! With this in mind, take a look through all of your social networking profiles and get rid of anything that you wouldn’t wish to see in a potential employee if you imagine yourself as the recruiter. The majority of finance employers will screen applicants across online platforms. It’d be a shame for the photos of that hazy night out to ruin everything you’re working so hard for… Be wise and do it now!
  • Arm yourself with some interesting chat! Whenever you get the opportunity to meet finance professionals in networking scenarios, remember it’s okay to be yourself and not constantly talk work in more relaxed situations. Talking about other interests should help people to warm to you, and they’ll be much more likely to be willing to help you if you genuinely get on.
  • Walk the walk. When you do get your chance to shine on any work experience placements or internships, be true to your word and make the effort to match up to the promises you’ve made on paper regarding your personal brand.

We won’t lie; building a personal brand does take time. After all, it requires people to get to know you for the qualities you are making efforts to project in the first instance before you can seriously capitalise on it. But in the competitive world of the school leaver and graduate job hunt, making efforts to put the pieces in place for your personal brand now will help to give you an edge, and make things easier for you as you grow as a finance professional.