Branding. It’s a term that seems to be used everywhere these days and it’s playing an increasingly
important role in the workplace and online.
“Most people are unaware of it, but their personal brand already exists. It’s not something that
needs to be created, explained Erica Breuer, personal branding strategist, Cake Resumes. “Your
personal brand is your identity, values, ideas, and talents. Personal branding, the act of captur-
ing that identity and creating awareness around it, is where your real work lies. It’s a process
that should unify every aspect of your brand, from your web presence and business cards, right down to the way you
answer the phone and introduce yourself during cocktail hour.”
Part of personal branding is also incorporated the digital world. Whether it’s LinkedIn, Facebook or Twitter, a presence
on these sites reflects a personal brand. With everyone posting—from vacation photos to their fancy latte at that great
new coffee spot, how does one stand out more in the digital space? According to Breuer, it’s simple.
“Once you’ve solidified a clear message around who you are, it’s all about maintaining a consistent presence on your
platforms of choice,” she said. “One that’s laced with value for anyone that encounters it. Every post, tweet, or comment should reinforce your brand while serving your following in some way. This isn’t about ego, or ‘me-me-me’ but
gaining credibility through ‘we-we-we.’
“Does a sleek personal Website or clever podcast help? Absolutely. But your best bet is starting small through grassroots social interactions that share your insights and advice, and then launching your grander branding mediums once
you’ve found some footing as a voice. If you can do that for a few months, you’re ready for the next step.”
“You can’t cut your own hair” is an often-repeated expression in the branding world, explained Breuer. If a company
doesn’t offer branding resources, she advises to seek out a personal brand coach to serve as a guide and sounding
board. There are also self-guided courses on Lynda.com and LinkedIn learning that can help shape your brand.
For CFA’s 40 Under 40 Award recipients, Breuer stressed the importance of learning how to use the accolade to their advantage.
“Strong personal branding is a balance of personality, promise and proof. A 40 Under 40 accolade falls right into that
proof bucket, but simply dropping a note about it into the bottom of your LinkedIn profile and forgetting it means you’ll
miss out on most of the firepower the award can deliver. Don’t back away from the chance to share the news of your
award with your network. To do this with style, pair your announcement with mentions of other winners (tag them if you
can), or an offer to mentor someone who’d love to be in your shoes.
“By sharing in the success and bringing in the ‘we’ element, you’ve made your announcement dynamic, relatable and
of value to others. When you get down to it, the award builds your credibility, but it’s your reputation as a trusted
resource that is the real reason people do business with you.”
For Mills, the CFA 40 Under 40 Award has given him more confidence and being recognized at the national level was
“There were a lot of people reaching out to me to say congratulations from other areas of the country, and actually
some increased deal flow from other parts of the country, which has been nice. It’s a really nice recognition, not only
internally at People’s, but also externally across the U.S.”
Alexander added on winning her 40 Under 40 Award that being recognized was an honor. “It has given me the confidence to put myself out there more often and challenge myself to get outside of my comfort zone. I was able to get
more involved with the CFA and to add value by creating an onboarding process and package for new members, and
being recognized both internally and externally for this accomplishment.”
For more information on personal branding, be sure to read Robert Meyers’ article, Understanding and Developing
your Personal Brand: Four Steps to a More Intentional Career Progression, on page 108.