Day two of the IIA/ISACA Governance, Risk, and Control Conference (GRC) opened with a keynote address from internal audit executive Nancy Haig on creating "Your Personal Brand." Haig shared her advice on building a brand identity, and then maintaining that brand once it's been established.
To begin, she explained, professionals must understand what does not fall within the scope of their brand. "Your personal brand is not about stuff, it has nothing to do with your stuff," Haig told the GRC audience. "It doesn't matter — your house, your car, your clothes, any possessions at all. It doesn't factor into your personal brand." She adds that brands are not about bragging, self-promotion, attention-seeking, disingenuous behavior, or self-centered connections.
Instead, Haig says, personal brands comprise a genuine, meaningful representation of ourselves. She says one's brand should present an authentic personal image — one that is both unique and professional, and speaks to professional reputation. Perhaps most importantly, Haig adds, a personal brand needs to be promoted on social media — if done correctly, it will help create an expanded presence in one's industry, enhance engagement with other professionals, and facilitate career advancement.
As a first step toward developing a personal brand, Haig recommended audience members ask themselves a question: "If someone heard your name, what would they associate it with?" She suggests approaching friends, colleagues, and family members to determine their perceptions. What strengths and weaknesses do they see?
Next, Haig advised determining which social media platforms to target. She pointed to LinkedIn as a logical venue for most professionals, though other platforms with a mix of social and professional content may be useful as well. "You're going to have to assess which are the best places for you to be," she says.
Once online, Haig says, a personal brand needs to establish trust from its audience. She recommends accomplishing this through consistency and repetition. "You don't want to be one way to some people and someone else to other people," she says. Moreover, the brand needs to be monitored regularly to make sure information online represents the brand accurately and that someone hasn't hijacked it.
Haig also offered numerous practical tips for personal brand enhancement, such as searching for oneself online to look for brand inconsistencies and setting up automated news alerts for references to one's name. She also suggested participating in a local professional association chapter, contributing an article to an industry magazine, and creating a personal website as ways of expanding a personal brand and solidifying it with professional connections.
For more information on personal branding, read Nancy Haig's article, "Your Personal Brand" — winner of this year's Internal Auditor John B. Thurston award for literary excellence.