How to Authentically Build a Personal Brand in the Impact Sector

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Once reserved for celebrities, politicians and those in the public eye, a personal brand has
become an important element of success for professionals everywhere. In our globally
connected economy, crafting a visible digital and interpersonal presence can directly impact
your opportunities, but in the social impact sector, it goes beyond career advancement. A
personal brand is a way to establish one’s identity, mission, and values, build trust and
ultimately advocate for significant social change.

Why is a Personal Brand Important?
A strong personal brand can benefit us both on a personal level as well as contribute to the
broader social issues tackled in the impact sector. As industries become more competitive,
having a distinct professional reputation can differentiate you from other candidates. It highlights
your unique skills, experiences, and perspectives, making you stand out to potential employers
or clients. Visibility on personal websites and social media platforms like LinkedIn makes it
easier for recruiters, potential employers, and collaborators to find and engage with you based
on the skills, accomplishments, and professional philosophies showcased.

Nowadays, most career paths are non-linear and involve several transitions—between roles,
companies, and industries. A robust professional image that communicates your core
competencies can make career mobility smoother and more successful by aligning your public
persona with your career aspirations. A genuine representation of what you believe in and what
you can offer will build credibility and trust with relevant audiences, establishing yourself as a
thought leader who can inspire action and drive awareness on critical issues.

Unlike the private sector, social impact thrives on collaboration over competition. The purpose of
developing a personal brand is not just to distinguish yourself for your own career progression; it
can help forge connections with like-minded people, governmental bodies, non-profits,
investors, leaders and corporations, facilitating partnerships that can amplify the impact of your
work. A well-established brand and public position can empower you to advocate for your
causes more effectively, mobilise resources, and sway public opinion or policy decisions.

How to Develop a Personal Brand

1. Define Your Core Values
We’ve touched on this in our previous blog piece on navigating a career transition when we
mentioned finding your ‘why’. Start by articulating what drives you. What social issues are you
passionate about? What fulfils you and gives you a sense of purpose? Your brand should
directly reflect your professional ethos and the change you wish to see. Clarifying this will guide
your actions and attract the community and resources aligned with your vision.

During this process, questions you can ask yourself are:

  • What drives me?
  • In what areas do I excel?
  • What are my areas of expertise?
  • What work drains my energy? What work fuels me?
  • What settings do I work best in?
  • What industries do I find interesting?
  • Where do I want to be at the end of my career?
  • What impact do I want to have?
  • What do I want my legacy to be?

3. Ask for input
Of course, our personal brand has to come from within, but sometimes, the people closest to us
notice strengths and traits in us that we might not see. Ask your friends, family, and colleagues
to describe how they see you from a brand perspective, what your strengths are, and where
there’s room to build. To make it easier, we’ve created a framework for a personal branding audit here – edit the content and length as appropriate.

3. Share Your Story
Your journey is unique—share it with the world. Telling your story is a powerful way to connect
more intimately with your audience through social media, blogs, podcasts, or speaking
engagements. Focus on specific challenges and experiences that led you to where you are.
Those listening will relate to vulnerability and truth in your storytelling, allowing them to connect
with your mission.

4. Engage with Social Media
Social media platforms like LinkedIn, X, and Instagram allow you to share insights, join
conversations, and spotlight your achievements. Ensure your content demonstrates thought
leadership and commitment to your cause. Engage regularly and meaningfully with followers
and other thought leaders to grow your network. Although consistent posting will drive
engagement and recognition, quality is more important than quantity. A well-researched,
considered post every few weeks will likely strengthen your profile more than regular posts with
less depth.

5. Network with Purpose
Networking in the impact sector is not just about expanding your professional circle but finding
potential collaborators, mentors, and allies who share your vision. Attend industry events,
conferences, seminars, and workshops. Join online communities that cater to social impact
professionals. To be a valuable addition to the community and to cultivate a positive
professional identity, always approach networking with the intention to offer value and learn, not
just gain from others.

6. Engage in Thought Leadership
Contribute valuable content to your field of expertise by writing articles, participating in panels,
and giving talks on subjects you are passionate about. You can share insights, research, and
achievements to further solidify your position as a voice of authority. Thought leadership is a
powerful tool for enhancing credibility and influencing your sector; here are some tips for getting

➔ Figure out where you want to publish your writing. Perhaps sharing your thoughts
directly on LinkedIn is the best place (benefits: built-in professional audience, enhanced
visibility and reach, real-time engagement, SEO benefits, simple analytics), or you can
direct people to a personal blog (benefits: creative control, ownership of content, building
a dedicated audience without an algorithm, depth and long-form content).

➔ Research industry-specific journals and publications and pitch ideas to those whose
audience is relevant to you. The key is to share valuable content that resonates with
your industry.

➔ When you notice a relevant company hosting a panel or event, contact them and let
them know you’re available for future speaking opportunities. Provide details of your
experience and areas of expertise and offer yourself as a speaker at on-brand events.

7. Be Consistent
Consistency is paramount in personal branding. Ensure that your communication, from social
media posts to articles and talks, continuously reflects your values and mission. A strong, clearly
articulated viewpoint will build trust and recognition in your community. This is not to say that
your opinions won’t change. As your experience grows and you change, so will your brand —
just like you, it’s ever-evolving. However, your core values will likely remain and be built upon
over time.

8. Continue to Learn and Evolve
The social impact industry is dynamic, with new developments and challenges constantly
emerging. Staying informed about the latest trends and issues in your field not only fuels your
growth but also keeps your brand relevant and informed. By learning and growing in public and
speaking about your opinions, you can connect further with your audience and bring them on
your journey. For top tips, follow our blogs at Careers4Change and our LinkedIn page for job
opportunities and social impact-driven content.

9. Show Real Impact
Nothing cements a personal brand like demonstrable impact. Share results, successes, and
learnings from your projects. This reinforces your expertise and showcases your commitment to
making change. Facts and figures are invaluable: What was the total value of funds or
resources raised? How many people engaged with a particular campaign on social media?
Communicate the measurable impact of your work. Testimonials are also a great way to validate
impact – ask colleagues and collaborators to provide their opinions, which you can use on
LinkedIn, in pitch decks and on your website.

10. Lead with Integrity
Most importantly, a personal brand in the impact sector must be built on integrity. Your actions,
decisions, and interactions should consistently reflect honesty and a deep commitment to your
cause. People have an innate gauge of authenticity; if you believe in your work and your values,
your passion and knowledge will stand out.

Building a personal brand in the impact sector is a perpetually growing process requiring
authenticity, consistency, and a keen focus on your mission and values. By effectively
positioning yourself, you can enrich your influence and contribute more substantially to the
societal changes you’re dedicated to addressing.

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Date: 7 May 2024 | Posted In: Helpful Guides | Posted by: Lisa Overett

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