Who am I? (building your personal brand)

A lot has been said about treating one’s self as a ‘brand’. This may sound foreign if you are just starting out in your career. And to that, I say CATCH UP!  Your personal brand is all the qualities and attributes people think of when they hear your name.

Think about popular brands in the hospitality industry… What comes to mind when you think about the Shangri-La, Holiday Inn, Tetsuya’s restaurant, Ibis or the Rooty Hill RSL? You have a sense of what each one stands for. These thoughts, perceptions and impressions aren’t serendipitously finding their way into your conscious. They have been cleverly planted there through carefully made branding choices.

So, what do people think when they hear your name? What do you want people to think when they hear your name? You are in control of you brand. You are the person who can influence what this personal brand looks like.

You may ask ‘How can I treat myself as though I am a brand?’ These are my tips:

Make the move

You are a brand. There are no ifs, what’s, or but’s about it. The question is, what do you want your brand to be associated with? Do you want to be known as an expert in a particular field or seen to have particular qualities? The hospitality industry is extremely diverse and the opportunities are vast. In am in no way suggesting you pigeon hole yourself in to a particular specialty early on. On the contrary, I encourage you to explore your options. Being able to recognize your strengths at an early stage of this journey is quite helpful. Personal development tools, such as Gallup Strengths Finder, will allow you to identify areas you are particularly strong in. Work to these strengths and use them as the foundation of your brand.

What does your “dot.com” say about you?

Employers will definitely seek out information about candidates they are considering hiring.  Employers are seeking to employ the best of the best in their own pursuit of excellent. Take the time to review what your digital footprint is saying about you. Yes, it’s fun to post silly pictures of yourself and friends on Instagram and Facebook. Yes, you might see something funny you’ve decided to re-tweet it, but take a moment to think about what impression this content is making about you. BE YOURSELF! But, consider the audience. Updating privacy and security settings are great to help control what the public can see about your personal brand.

Does it serve a purpose?

Sharing content is fantastic, but think about how it makes you look. Take the time to think about what your brand stands for. Once you’ve discovered this, use social media to drive and promote this brand. If you want to be a culinary expert, share content that is relevant and will help you be perceived as an expert. Don’t go sharing what Kim and Khloe Kardashian are having for lunch (I’ll let you in on a little secret…no one cares what the Kardashians are up to). Get familiar with new restaurants opening up and share them. Become a figure of knowledge. Get familiar with new cookery techniques and comment about them. This will speak volumes to your network.

Leverage other brands

Rome was not built in a day. However, if they had the assistance of cranes, cement mixers, and jack-hammers, it would have been built much quicker. Begin to leverage some of the brands you associate with to further shape who you wish to become. Consider the institution you’re studying with. What about where you’re working? These brands will speak volumes of who you wish to become and what your personal brand is about.

Be authentic

You may have heard me use this word in some of my previous posts. Authenticity is all about being true to yourself. For this, tap in to your values. Your personal brand must align with your values. If you are able to pursue a personal brand that aligns with your core values, you will be less stressed, less conflicted, and far more energized. It’s easy being yourself! It is much harder pretending to be someone you are not.

Find a guide

Have you ever tried to go somewhere using really vague directions? It’s really hard and can be quite intimidating. Your professional journey is no different. No one has all the answers and believing you can do it on your own is fraught with danger. Find a mentor or coach who is willing to guide you along this journey. Whilst they will definitely not know where the final destination is exactly going to be, they will be able to steer you in the right direction and be able to provide advice when you arrive at a cross road.

When you study hospitality with Torrens University, you have the support and guidance of the Careers & Employability team. Students form close relationships with the team as they are given tips on personal branding, and other topics such as grooming, interview techniques and resume writing. All of these when combined with your chosen course ensure students are career ready upon graduation.

Anthony Mitri is the Director of Innovation, Industry, and Employability at Torrens University Australia.