Before we begin, a question: What do Victoria Beckham, Huda Katan, Hillary Clinton, Kim Kardashian and Sheryl Sandberg have in common?  The Answer?  An extremely strong Personal Brand.  

So what's yours?

A couple of weeks ago we joined forces with the MENA branch of the PRCA to host our second Career Clinic.  With a decided topic of 'Building Your Personal Brand', a panel was put together and we rocked up at Gaucho for 6pm to set up.  Little did we know the emotional response we were about to receive from our 30-strong audience.  

We felt passionately that it would be a waste not to share the learnings from this session more widely, so below our 'guru' behind the topic - the PRCA's GM, Leanne Foy - shares the personal story that led her to make steps towards that ever elusive 'Personal Brand' and what to do to begin the journey to yours.

 Leanne Foy, GM, PRCA MENA

Leanne Foy, GM, PRCA MENA

"Recently, I was lucky enough to be asked to help put together a panel for Hopscotch's second Career Clinic, where the audience were hoping to learn some insight on increasing their personal brand and remaining competitive.

I’m not a Mum, and have never been on maternity leave. I’ve never been backpacking and had to find a job on my return. I’ve never taken a career break but, just after getting my first mortgage aged 26, I was made redundant from a job I loved and was out of work for four months. I was in a business development role and immediately put on gardening leave; as this point my world fell apart and all I worried about was paying my bills, having just spent all my savings on buying my first home.

My confidence crashed and I didn’t want to leave my new apartment, petrified of spending any money and not being able to pay my mortgage. It was a tough four months; I applied for hundreds of jobs - many at entry level often with no response – and was bored at adapting my CV, having endless calls with recruiters and interviews with no response. After two months, I decided I needed to change my approach to get back into work and do something that was more stimulating than sending a CV and cover letter.

I finally decided that I could afford to spend £5 (AED 25) and headed to my local Starbucks to job hunt elsewhere, deciding it could be beneficial to physically ‘see’ people, rather than staring at my computer screen and the crisp white walls of my apartment.

That morning, I wrote down my skills and realised I was doing nothing with my experience of business development and marketing. The penny dropped. I thought to myself, why don’t I start marketing myself instead of marketing a brand? I am a brand, I’m brand me – ‘Brand Leanne’.

From there, I put together a marketing and business development plan, working out what I could do for ‘Brand Leanne’ it was the first time I enjoyed my job search and I began to execute my plan with three initial things:

1.     Research

2.     Relationships

3.     Reading

Now, these don’t sound like rocket science but, when I put them into the context of brand ‘me’, they made all the difference, so let's take a deeper look:

Research: I started to research competitors of the companies I was applying for, as well as others I knew where advertising a similar job role. This is a skill I still do now. Every new company I go to meet, I not only check its website but I also research recent company news and across social media, to see if there are any recent news items that I need to be aware of.

Not only did I research companies but I also researched people that I wanted to see my profile. Again, this is something I still do. Some say it’s borderline stalker, I’d say it’s being clever and prepared. So much of my new business has come from this technique. Before I set up PRCA MENA in Dubai, I used Linkedin to identify key people I wanted to talk to. You’ll be surprised how many people are already in your network and where you can get others to introduce you. Ask those people to do that!

Relationships: I used this time to reconnect with my network, invit ex-colleagues, business partners  and old clients for coffee. At the time, it was to explore job opportunities, now I make sure that I keep up my connections and catch up with a least one person in my network each week.

Reading: I started reading trade magazines and thought leadership articles, ensuring I kept with up to date with the industry trends. This is something I still do every morning while I’m waiting for the kettle to boil!

Needleless to say, these activities started to give me a little more confidence and before I knew it I was back out at industry networking events and inevitably, back into work.

These activities, as well as maximising your Linkedin page, writing small articles, increasing your social media usage, and blogging are all things you can do to increase your personal brand. All you need to do is cut them in to smaller timeframes to make them more achievable, such as on your commute or waiting for the kettle to boil. A little time each day will certainly make a difference over time and eventually become a habit."

To be with us at our next Career Clinic session, head here.