Hospitality Professional’s Guide to Personal Branding

Hiring decisions used to be influenced by things like top grades, an impressive resume, and years of relevant work experience. However, times have changed.

Now, your personal brand is the driving force behind your involvement and credibility in the hospitality industry.

Many of your peers will fail to recognize the importance of a personal brand, allowing their reputation to be molded and formed by input from others. If you want to stand out in the crowd, drive the future of your industry, and be recognized as a leader, you’ll take a proactive approach to personal branding. You’ll cultivate your brand yourself. Here’s how.

1. Understand What “Personal Branding” Means
Branding can be defined as “creating a unique name and image for a product in the consumers’ mind…establishing a significant and differentiated presence in the market.” This is usually accomplished through advertising campaigns with a consistent message.

For example, does “just do it” come to mind at the mention of Nike? Do you think of golden arches if we say McDonalds?

Personal branding is the same practice, applied on a personal level. [quote]It is identifying and defining the qualities and attributes you want people to associate with your name.[/quote] Just as you had immediate associations with names like Nike and McDonalds, you likely have similar reactions to the personal brands of Conrad Hilton and Gordon Ramsay.

2. Define Your Personal Brand
How does one go about creating a personal brand? Start by asking yourself these questions:

How do you want to define your personal brand?
What do you want people to think of when they hear your name?
Is there a particular niche in the hospitality industry where you have an abundance of subject-matter expertise?
Are there certain qualities and characteristics that will define your brand?
Identify the areas in which you excel and the qualities you can hone. This will be the beginning of your personal brand.

Recognize that your strengths may change over time. And, that you may not actually be as strong in a given area as you first assumed. Your brand’s identity may be somewhat fluid in the beginning.

3. Check What’s Been Said
There are two ways a personal brand can be created. First, it can be created without your input at all; it can be formed by what other people have added to your digital footprint. Or, you can take control of the situation and meld your brand into what you want.

Your personal brand has already been started, so the first thing you’ll want to do is check to see what has been added without your involvement.

Google yourself. See what comes up in the search results.
Check your social media accounts. See what information is publically displayed.
Do your findings jive with your personal branding goals? Remove any information that is detrimental to your brand.

4. Control Your Digital Footprint
After you’ve had a chance to audit your digital footprint, you’ll need to maintain it going forward.

 Set alerts so you know immediately if your personal brand is being influenced by outside sources.
Increase your digital security and protect yourself from potential fraud.
Implement restrictions on your social media accounts. Limit your tags and what can be posted to your page.

5. Build Your Brand
Once you define what you want to be associated with your name, start sharing your brand.

Launch a personal website. Design it so that your brand’s identity is immediately recognizable. Create content that clearly states your mission and purpose.
Be purposeful about what you share on social media. Follow influential industry publications and organizations. Share relevant content that will help build your credibility. Avoid “liking” questionable activities — professors who write essays or pic of your weekend’s poker win are things that can affect your future career.
Share your expertise. Offer to write guest posts for industry publications. Provide interviews on relevant podcasts. Get your message out there.

6. Network
Start networking–and associating your personal brand with other well-respected brands.

Join industry organizations.
Inquire about alumni groups for hospitality majors.
See if your friends and family can connect you with influential professionals.
Follow influencers on social media.
Create a System for On-Going Brand Maintenance
Brand management is an ongoing task.
Your personal brand will likely change and evolve over time. Make adjustments as you advance through the industry. Look for new avenues and opportunities to continue melding your reputation.

Audit the internet on a regular basis. Continue to monitor what is being said about you. Make sure every mention of your name online corresponds with the image you are creating.

7. Start Cultivating Your Personal Brand Today
Studies have found that more than 90% of two-year olds already have a digital footprint. That means your personal brand has already been a work-in-progress for several years.

It’s time to claim your identity. Create the reputation you crave. Start building your personal brand today and become a well-known resource in the hospitality industry.

Mike is a passionate blogger who strives to produce well-researched, plagiarism-free and coherent content in every piece he writes.

Les Roches
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