The Co-Founder and CIO of NDTV E-Commerce talks to Shweta Gandhi about the value of personal branding.
Branding himself as India’s #1 Social CIO, Aneesh Nair is an entrepreneurial business leader who has helped built successful technological ventures. As the Co-Founder and CIO of NDTV E-Commerce, he handles technology, eCommerce Operations, Customer Care and Digital Marketing.
“Most IT professionals aren’t comfortable with the concept and practice of personal branding or self-promotion because they traditionally see their value in making the machinery (people, process and technology) run smoothly and they expect their work to speak for itself,” says Aneesh. However, he goes on to explain why they really should consider investing in it. “Personal branding provides a clear focus for personal development while establishing yourself as a thought leader and helps create a market positioning,” he explains.
“It also works for career success, allowing individuals to pursue what they’re passionate about. The relationship between career success and personal branding is a truly unique dynamic that, when understood, has the potential to launch a person to new heights.”
Your organisation can benefit too. “Organisations are only as good as the people who work for them. And if those people downplay their accomplishments, the organisation may not gain the benefits of those successes,” Aneesh explains.
And it’s a great way to differentiate yourself from your peers when the time comes for a job search. “When you clearly stand apart and above others competing for the same jobs, you generate interest and are much more likely to land interviews.” Moreover, it creates a compelling, unique career brand statement. Aneesh advises IT professionals to dig deep and “Ask your peers and co-workers to give you feedback about your performance and strengths. A measure of your brand is what the people who work with you have to say about you.”
Branding is a hallmark of a natural leader too. “There is a clear correlation between success and branding. Creating a strong brand makes people look up to you as a firm thought leader,” he says. As your brand improves and success becomes increasingly attainable, your standards for just about everything increase.
Social media, of course, plays a huge role in personal branding. “It will often be the first port of call for people who want to learn more about you. I focus more on LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook,” he says. Whether or not you are active, Aneesh insists on at least being present on social media. “Social media is now woven into almost every nook and cranny of our personal and business lives. How we look online has become an important component of our persona and who we are in a digital world. So creating, polishing and taking control of your brand online is essential for the modern professional. The content you create on social media now defines you, and social networks amplify your content creations as people discover and share them.”
Aneesh’s advice for his fellow CIOs is to stay consistent with their efforts. “A personal brand is like a garden. Once you lay the groundwork and plant the seeds, you’ll be in a great position to eventually reap the benefits. However, it still takes time and dedication to nurture and expand your creation. As you continue to develop your personal brand, pay close attention to how your audience responds to your content, and hone your direction until your focus is razor sharp.”
Here are Aneesh’s 5 steps to building your personal brand.
Step 1: Determine your area of expertise
“Before you can establish or develop your expertise, you have to decide what you want to be known for.”
Step 2: Start writing and publishing
“Once you know your area of focus, it’s time to start building your reputation, and the best way to do that is to show off your expertise. Content marketing is a great way to build a brand and reputation online. When people look for information, they tend to go back to sources that were helpful to them. If you can become a trusted source of information through your content, over time you’ll become known as the expert of your field.”
Step 3: Flesh out your social media profiles
I”f content is the fuel for your personal brand, social media is the engine. Take the time to flesh out the details of your profiles, including on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn, and make sure they’re consistently in line with your personal brand standards. Post updates regularly and don’t be afraid to re-post your older content for your new followers.”
Step 4: Speak at events and develop case studies
“Work with your past or present clients and co-workers to spin and present a solid narrative. People love real stories more than promises or speculation, so prove what you’ve done by giving them digestible case studies. Also look for speaking events in your area that will give you the opportunity to demonstrate your expertise while connecting with new audiences.”
Step 5: Network, network, network
“On social media and in the real world, the key to sparking growth in your personal brand is networking. Engage with other individuals in your field, social influencers who have many connections, and anybody else who could be valuable in helping you spread the word about your expertise. Attend professional networking events to meet influencers and engage in community discussions online. The more opportunities you have to meet people and talk, the better.”