Creating Your Personal Brand
“Simply put, your brand is your promise to your customer. It tells them what they can expect from your products and services, and it differentiates your offerings from your competitors. Your brand is derived from who you are, who you want to be, and who people perceive you to be.”– John Williams; “The Basics of Branding.”
What is a brand, exactly? A brand is a story that invokes a feeling about a company long before you buy their product. Today’s lesson is about how you can create a personal brand for yourself and the benefits of having a brand.
Destination of this Journey
In this lesson we’re going to be talking about three different things about building a personal brand:
- Why you need a personal brand
- The benefits of a personal brand. We’ll identify what those are and how having a brand benefits you as an actuary.
- How to create, develop and establish your personal brand, which is a step-by step process.
What’s In A Brand and Why do You Need a Personal Brand?
When you look at your favorite companies, or at least companies you’re extremely familiar with, you know how you feel, good or bad, about any of them. A soft drink company may fill you with warm fuzzy feelings because of good memories, or that coffee chain down the street may make you feel annoyed because they’re on the expensive side, so every time you see either of these companies’ logos, it’s an instant reaction, or feeling, either way. All in all, it’s a story that goes along with each company.
In the actuarial field, it’s really competitive, so you want to set yourself apart from all the other actuaries out there. Creating your own brand, or story will help you not just say, “I’m good at math,” because all actuaries need to be good at math. But creating a brand could mean, for example, having the ability to show data in a certain way that helps everyone understand what’s going on in a particular situation.
The Benefits of Having a Personal Brand
There are three major benefits to having a personal brand:
- Your brand speaks for you when you’re not around.
- How do you want to be thought of, or remembered?
- How do you want to stick in people’s minds when you’re not in the office?
- Your brand serves as both your compass and your map, and helps you remain consistent with the promises you keep and the value you add to every relationship you have.
- If you are someone of high integrity, and does what they say they’re going to do, and you own up to any mistakes you make, your choices about what to do or say in a particular situation need to align with that integrity.
- Your brand differentiates you from others.
- Think about what specific skills you have within the usual required list of skills and abilities actuaries need to succeed. How do you take those skills and raise the bar just a few notches higher?
How To Create, Develop and Establish Your Personal Brand
The creation of your personal brand is driven by you. It can seem exciting and scary all at once because you do have control over this. You get to establish what you want your brand to be.
When you build your brand, and while on the job hunt, think about the attributes and job skills that other actuaries might have, and take some of those up a few notches:
- What kind of actuary do I want to be?
- What specific skills do I wish to excel at?
You want your brand to be something you can consistently deliver.
For example, if you go into a Starbucks, you know that from store to store, there’s going to be a certain level of expected consistency that’s part of the Starbucks brand. They might have the same bakery items or the same special holiday drinks everywhere you go.
This is the kind of consistency you’re looking to build as an actuary.
Probably one of the most important parts of building your personal brand is be authentic. Don’t try to be someone you’re not, just because you think all actuaries have to be a certain way. Make sure your brand is authentic to you, to who you are.
Again, start with you. Keep in mind what your strengths and weaknesses are, and even rank them. Ask yourself where you feel most comfortable? What differentiates you?
Supplement with key patterns. Look up all kinds of job descriptions when seeking to build your brand, especially where your strengths are concerned. Certain phrases and words will pop up, such as “Works well with a team” or “demanding, differing days—fast-paced and not much repetition to the work.” If any of those describe you, or the place you’d want to work, seek to weave that into your personal story, your personal brand, especially if that’s how you are as a person.
What you hear during Informational Interviews, or Information “Conversations” might also part of how you build your brand, especially as you start talking at length with those already in the actuarial field.
Patterns of how you might build your brand may also pop up in other information gathered during the Prepare Stage.
When establishing your personal brand, you might choose to build up three or four specific skills. When you do, demonstrate how you either developed or are developing those skills.
For example, say you choose “Exam Focused,” “Works Well In Teams,” “Excellent Communication” and “Someone You’d Like To Work With” as your core brand skills.
- Exam-Focused: You could show on your resume how you’re progressing on your actuarial exams. This lets potential employers know that you take being an actuary very seriously.
- Works Well In Teams: Perhaps you were a singing group or a fraternity or sorority
- Excellent Communication: Your resume could be your example of written communication and you could demonstrate good verbal communication in person.
- Someone You’d Like To Work With: Showing people that you would be a good person to work with might come in the form of your information sessions, the events you attend and referring to people by name.
You’ve Reached Your Destination
So, we’ve gone over and elaborated on the three major points of building a personal brand. To recap, here are those points:
- Why You Need a Personal Brand
- The Benefits of a Personal Brand
- How to Create, Develop and Establish your Personal Brand
Being an actuary is not just about going in and doing your job like everyone else. You want to rise head and shoulders above the competition, and building a personal brand helps you do just that.
Want more help with your journey?
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Let us know in the comments below – Which one of these principles do you think would be the best for you to focus on for the next month?