Personal Branding 101: Key Points from our #YALICHAT with Nomalanga Ndlovu

On September 12, Mandela Washington Fellow Nomalanga Ndlovu joined our #YALICHAT to share her insights and answer questions on the importance of personal branding in today’s globalized, interconnected world of social media and entrepreneurship. Here are the key take-aways from Nomalanga’s chat with our YALI Network:

1. Define yourself and how you want to be perceived in the world.

“A personal brand is who you are and the process of establishing a prescribed image or impression in the mind of others about yourself,” Nomalanga writes. She highlights the importance of defining who you are in terms of how you dress, how you carry yourself and how you interact with others: These features are all a part of your personal brand, which impacts all areas of your life. She states that “personal branding is for everyone.”Some people think that personal branding is only for a select few, celebs, companies etc BUT personal branding is for everyone. You have a brand whether you have throught about about or not. What are you as an individual reflecting to your audience, colleagues? When you go into an interview it is your responsibility to BRAND yourself from your outfit to what comes out of your mouth. Your social media from your profile picture to your comments also speak into your brand. A personal brand is who you are and the process of establishing a prescribed image or impression in the mind of others about yourself. In my opinion it is up to us as Africa to start to reflect a different image of Africa from pictures we post online and to what we say about Africa. instead of focusing on the negative side of Africa lets speak about the good from primary school going up so that the next generation brands Africa positively. Every country has its negatives but countries like USA have chosen to brand the good about America and focus on that. Lets brand Africa differently and tell our own positive stories.

2. Use your personal brand to squash negative stereotypes.

Nomalanga mentions how individual and collective rebranding of Africa can help ameliorate the negative global perception of the African continent. In order to reshape this image, she mentions the need for using personal branding to highlight the entrepreneurship and positive leadership initiatives taking place.

3. Leverage your social media accounts.

Your online presence plays a major role in the opportunities that are available to you: Be smart and thoughtful in what you post online and how you portray yourself. Nomalanga cites two studies that indicate the increasing importance of social media in personal branding:

“A study from CareerBuilder revealed that 70 percent of employers now use social media to screen job candidates before hiring them, up from 60 percent a year ago and 11 percent in 2006. …”

“According to Business News Daily, one-quarter of hiring managers expect candidates to have some sort of online presence, and nearly 60 percent are less likely to call someone in for [an] interview if they can’t find them online.”

Social media is definitely an expression of your personal branding. A study from CareerBuilder revealed that 70 percent of employers now use social media to screen job candidates before hiring them, up from 60 percent a year ago and 11 percent in 2006. What you post now or have posted before will definitely increase of decrease your chances of getting hired. Social media is a reflection of who you are, what you think, read and what you are doing. According to Business News Daily One-quarter of hiring managers expect candidates to have some sort of online presence, and nearly 60 percent are less likely to call someone in for interview if they can't find them online. What you post and say is critical to your brand, we live in a global village now and your social media will get you great opportinuties or you will miss them because of your online brand.

4. Target your brand to a specific audience.

Be clear and concise in your goals and who you are trying to reach with your brand:

Q: What advise would you give, kind of on what to focus on, as a starting point? // A: When building a brand building, be clear about who you are trying to reach. Tailor your message to a specific audience and not for everyone. then create a brand identity that they can understand and relate to. You have the flexibility to change and evolve as you grow and expand. If one audience is not responding to you don't quit but find out why they are not responding and if need be change your content and answer their why.

5. Make yourself memorable.

Personal branding is good for business. It’s best if your personal brand complements the brand of your organization or company. When customers or clients remember you, they are more likely to want to work with you. Make your personal brand unique to who you are.
Q: Is personal branding related to all spheres of life? For example if I work with an NGO or some other organisations, can I still have personal branding or I just have to key into my corporate institution brand? // A: Personal branding, is a journey of defining yourself as a leader, entrepenuer, executive etc. In whatever industry you are in you have actually have branded yourself consciously or sub consciously. What people say about you in your work place, business, social circles is your brand. The difference betwwen you and someone who has consciosusly defined their brand is clarity of identity and their ability to commit to living it out. Personal branding is related to all spheres of our lives and yet its up to you which aspect of your brand you want to display to your audience. As an individual you are a personal brand and your company carries its own brand. However you can also have both brands supporting each other eg Strive Masiyiwa is a personal brand and his cooperate brands are Econet Wireless and Kwese TV In the 21st century people follow influential personal brands and so its up to you to build one.

For more professional-development tips, be sure to check our blog for more information.

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Nomalanga Ndlovu is a public speaking coach and founder of Outspoken, a startup that specializes in effective communication, personal branding and public speaking. She believes in the power of communication to connect people and promote conflict-free environments. Nomalanga works with several women’s networks to connect and empower young women, and she hopes to utilize this fellowship to better develop these skills with African leaders in government, parliament and the private sector.

The views and opinions expressed here belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect those of the YALI Network or the U.S. government. YALI Voices is a series of podcasts, videos and blog posts contributed by members of the YALI Network.

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