7 Steps to Conquer Personal Branding 3.0

Since Tom Peters wrote his seminal article “The Brand Called YOU” for the Fast Company magazine in August 1997, personal branding has become crucial for every professional. Like computer skills, it’s vital you at least understand the basics of personal branding to maximize your career in today’s workplace.

Still, just as the world continues to change and evolve, so too does personal branding. With the dawn of widespread social media and an always-on internet presence in the late 2000s, personal branding 2.0 came on the scene. This second era of personal branding ran through — and arguably hit its peak during — the COVID-19 pandemic, with more people than ever working remotely. Mastering online first impressions and utilizing video and social media technology became essential.

Now, with more organizations and individuals returning to the office, a new period of personal branding has begun. Personal branding 3.0 means mastering  the elements of both the first and second generation of personal branding while adopting new skills to ensure success in a hybrid and tech-dominant workplace.

This new iteration of personal branding is necessary as, per McKinsey, 90% of organizations will adopt a hybrid work model that combines in-person and remote work. The hybrid workplace, at least for the foreseeable future, is here to stay. That said, here’s how you can ensure you’re getting the most from your personal branding 3.0 efforts.

  1. With Change Comes Opportunity
  2. Build Something by Yourself
  3. Master Communication (In All Forms)
  4. Engage (No Matter the Medium)
  5. Be a Lifelong Learner
  6. Be Authentic (and Vulnerable)
  7. Humans (& Relationships) Still Matter

1. With Change Comes Opportunity

The past several years have been full of unprecedented tumult. From social upheaval to a global pandemic, the world seems to change quicker and more often than ever before. Rather than fearing this change, you should embrace it — every necessary change represents an opportunity.

Look at these changes as opportunities to learn new skills, tools or roles, and you’ll find this mindset will bolster your personal brand. In addition to gaining these new skills, you’ll demonstrate your flexibility and willingness to learn new things and improve yourself, both vital attributes of your personal brand.

2. Build Something by Yourself

Build something yourself, no matter what business you’re creating or the industry you’re in. It doesn’t matter if it’s a social media presence, a website or a physical product. This content illustrates your skills, builds your authority and allows you to connect with others.

Additionally, building content yourself showcases your abilities and develops trust with your audience. With today’s technology, creating and sharing this content has never been easier. Don’t wait for the perfect time; start creating now.

3. Master Communication (In All Forms)

Being an efficient and effective communicator is vital to the success of any individual or business. In the new era of personal branding, you must be able to communicate effectively, both in-person and virtually. If you can’t communicate effectively, regardless of the medium, you will struggle in building your personal brand.

After all, branding is about developing and maintaining a reputation. Every time you interact with other people, view it as an opportunity to cultivate or grow your personal brand. Honing effective communication skills will help ensure you’re taking advantage of every interpersonal interaction, growing your brand along the way.

4. Engage (No Matter the Medium)

This step goes hand in hand with the previous. An essential piece of effective communication is to engage your audience. No matter how you’re communicating, it’s vital you’re an engaging presence. But if you’re an introvert, don’t worry — this doesn’t mean you have to be the life of every meeting or networking event.

Rather, whether you’re speaking to an entire room or one person, ensure you’re actively listening, asking questions and staying present. In an age where screens are everywhere and there are constant distractions, staying engaged and present is a particularly special skill.

5. Be a Lifelong Learner

In a technology-forward world, where changes happen faster than ever, you’ve got to stay flexible. Part of this flexibility is continuing to learn new skills. Being a lifelong learner and continually seeking out new skills and development opportunities helps you establish the foundation of your personal brand.

Part of your learning, which will assist your personal brand building, is always asking questions and seeking feedback whenever possible. Honest feedback can help you understand what you’re doing well, as well as any areas where you can improve. By staying on the lookout for feedback and new opportunities, you can be proactive with your skill-building and, subsequently, brand-building.

6. Be Authentic (and Vulnerable)

Another piece of connecting with others and engaging your audience is always being authentic. Whether working from home or in a crowded office, every interaction with someone is a chance to demonstrate who you are and what’s important to you. One way to establish your authenticity is to seek opportunities for vulnerability.

As defined by Dr. Brené Brown, vulnerability is taking action when there is “uncertainty, risk, and emotional exposure.” According to Brown, vulnerability in the workplace can improve engagement and productivity. On a personal level, being authentic and vulnerable allows you to show who you truly are and permits others to show their authentic selves, fostering stronger connections.

7. Humans (& Relationships) Still Matter

Technology has undoubtedly helped us connect for both personal and business reasons. These technologies have facilitated such connections across time and space, making in-person communication seem like a relic.

Still, businesses — and personal branding — are ultimately all about people. Focusing on the human side of your business, regardless of your industry, will help you stick out in a technology-forward world. Building relationships in the workplace will boost your personal brand and help your business in general.

Take it from the man who coined personal branding, Tom Peters. Personal branding 3.0, like its other iterations, is still all about “Relationships. Relationships. Relationships.”

You can build a personal brand that will resonate in our new hybrid-work world by leveraging these steps. The days of putting your head down, working and waiting for someone to notice are over. To maximize your career, developing your personal brand in today’s workplace is vital.

If you want to learn more about how the intersection of personal branding and leadership can help you keep your career moving forward, get a copy of my book, Lead, Don’t Manage — or book me to speak at your next event!

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