7 steps to build a rewarding personal brand in hospitality

How to distinguish yourself, demonstrate your expertise and propel a career that’s in line with your personal brand.


your personal brand affects more than just you, it affects your hotel and your business as well.

The term branding has long been relegated to companies, but today almost every individual has a personal brand. Not many of us have consciously cultivated these brands, but they exist nonetheless, mostly in the form of a digital footprint in the sands of time and space crowdsourced by friends, colleagues and bosses. According to an AVG study, 92 percent of children under the age of two already have a digital footprint.

The question is no longer whether you have a personal brand, but if you choose to guide and cultivate the brand or to let it be defined on your behalf. Here are seven ways to start building a compelling personal brand.

1. Start thinking of yourself as a brand

What do you wish for people to associate with you when they think of your name? Is there a certain subject matter in which you want to be perceived as an expert, or are there general qualities you want linked to your brand? Once you understand how you wish your brand to be perceived, you can start to be much more strategic about your personal brand, although this doesn’t mean you can’t be human. On the contrary, as Michael Simmons writes, authenticity is key in the digital age.

A strong personal brand can yield tremendous ROI whether you are working with an organization or leading one. Here are some examples of individuals who have built up authentic and powerful personal brands: Michael Port, John Bates, Mike Michalowicz, Dave Kerpen, David Meerman Scott, John Jantsch, Dave Carroll and Barry Moltz.

2. Secure a personal website

Having a personal website is one of the best ways to rank for your name on search engines. It doesn’t need to be robust. It can be a simple two- to three-page site with that outlines your story, business interests, achievements, link to your social platforms, and a way to get in touch. You can always expand on the website with time.

3. Be purposeful in what you share

Every tweet you send, every status update you make, every picture you share, contributes to your personal brand. It is an amalgamation of multiple daily actions. Once you understand how you wish your brand to be perceived, you can start to be much more strategic about it.

4. Associate with other strong brands

Your personal brand is strengthened or weakened by your connection to other brands. Find and leverage strong brands that can elevate your own personal brand. Start with the three Cs: company, college, colleagues. Which school did you attend? Are there groups you can join? An alumni newsletter you can contribute to? What hidden opportunities are available within the hospitality industry that you have yet to tap? Consider submitting an article to industry publications, and put yourself out there so you’re easy to find to complete interviews, speak on behalf of your company and community. Be aware of all the digital assets you can connect to your brand.

AAHOA is an example of a strong brand in the hospitality industry. How involved are you? Are there committees you could join, ways to contribute or events to attend?

5. Find ways to produce value

We’ve all been there: Someone in your network posts something utterly mundane or ridiculous, and you wonder what compelled them to do so? A medium is not a substitute for a message. Find ways to add value to your audience by creating or curating content that’s in line with your brand. Follow hospitality and hotel business media outlets, participate in conversations and engage with their content as well.

6. Reinvent

A strong personal brand is dependent on a strong narrative. In other words, what’s your story? Take a second to think of personalities you know who have a strong personal brand: Anthony Melchiorri, Donald Trump, Gordon Ramsay. They all have a very clear story and a consistent brand. If you have multiple passions or areas of interest, a narrative becomes even more crucial so there can be unified theme.

Most importantly, remember that a strong personal brand should be ubiquitous and ever-evolving.

7. Audit your online presence

You can’t mold perception without first understanding the current status. In other words, Google yourself, and set up alerts for your name on a regular basis. Have a fairly common name? Consider using your middle initial or middle name to differentiate. Cultivating a strong personal brand is just as much about being responsive to what is being said as it is about creating intellectual property.

Shama Hyder is founder and CEO of The Marketing Zen Group, a best-selling author and an internationally renowned keynote speaker. To learn more, visit shamahyder.com

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