Aurelie Le Gall is business director in corporate divisions at Hays Recruitment, where company-wide, personal brand is a huge part of performance appraisals. Global Women caught up with Le Gall about the importance of personal brand.
“If you’re on the way up the career ladder, presenting yourself as a credible leader both internally and externally is crucial,” says Le Gall.
Le Gall’s mandate is that as a leader, everything you do and say has an impact on the people around you – so it’s important your brand is in line with the brand you work for, and appears consistent to customers, peers and people you are looking to lead. On the other hand, if you don’t proactively think about personal brand, your brand will be inconsistent and you may not be perceived the way you think.
“If everyone has a different perception of you, from customers to the boss who may promote you, you could come across flaky, indecisive, and unpredictable,” she says. How do you create a personal brand?
Be consistent in how you interact with individuals.
“There can’t be rule for different groups of individuals around the way you make decisions and communicate,” says Le Gall.
If you’re an emerging leader, she suggests measuring consistency of personal brand by carrying out staff engagement surveys.
“We do a lot of this within Hays. Sometimes younger leaders might have certain opinion on how things are going in their teams, but they may be wrong. Results are one things but the level of engagement of their staff is sometimes not what they thought it would be, because these leaders’ perception of their own brand/leadership style may not necessarily be how they are perceived in reality.”
Another great way to understand your brand is 360 degree feedback.
“Understanding how people perceive you from multiple aspects – communication style, ability to lead by example, your drive, and your ability to give and take feedback – is always very helpful to get a reality check on your brand. Even if it’s a fairly uncomfortable exercise!” she says.
How critical is LinkedIn?
Le Gall says LinkedIn is definitely key as long as you use it well. She suggests connecting with people who are going be your professional network – for example suppliers, but also peers you look up to, and potential mentors. Understand what they put on LinkedIn, what groups they belong to, what other platforms they belong to.
“But it’s not good enough to just be on it, or even just sharing and liking other people’s posts,” she says.
“You’ve got to be also driving traffic, writing content, making it appeal and be relevant to your audience – do you want to be a thought leader in your market, or just be there? You’ve got to be noticeable and targeted in your messaging because again, it’s about consistency.
“You’ve got to make it a priority and set time aside every day, because if you’re an up and coming leader who wants to be noticed internally and externally, you’ve got to put in the work.” What are some tips for cultivating a personal brand for a public audience?
Le Gall suggests:
- Learn how to articulate your ideas in a concise manner – especially if your expertise is in a technical area. Use different language for media than you’d use internally, to appeal to a wide audience. You can practice relating to audience that is not your standard audience, and there are a variety of courses you can go on.
- If making presentations to a large group doesn’t come naturally, you’ve got to work on it, because if your career is going in right direction, you are going to be presenting. And that’s part of your brand too: if you are going to networking events and being asked to present at conferences, it’s important you are credible presenter.
Taking personal brand seriously
Personal branding is one of the key things Hays looks at company-wide in performance appraisals, focusing on it extensively.
“It’s important that you think about what you want your brand to be, what you think it is right now – and if you’re at A and want to go to B, what are the steps you need to take to get there, says Le Gall.
“But it takes effort and self-awareness, which is not always easy to gain.”
Want more on personal brand? See Sandy Burgham‘s take in another blog.