Revealed: the personal branding lessons prime minister Liz Truss can teach contractors

Personal branding is a buzzword that gets thrown around on a regular basis, even in contractor circles where the conversion to this important tool to developing ones-self, potentially as a single-person business, isn’t always automatic.

But it is a person outside the contractor sector who has landed the very top job in the UK that inspires this piece, writes work-winning expert Matt Craven, founder of the CV & Interview Advisors.

In fact, Liz Truss, our new prime minister, is clearly someone who has decided to portray herself in a certain way – so she’s definitely indulged in some personal branding – and then she’s backed it all up with a personal communications strategy.

All trussed up

You could call it managing her own PR. But personal branding is that conscious decision to leave people thinking about you in a certain way and acting accordingly. In a nutshell, behaving and communicating in a measured and consistent way rather than simply reacting emotionally to situations and interactions.

Liz Truss is a great example of this. It has been suggested in the media that she has had to have speech coaches, and got to grips with social media in a way that might not be natural to her, all of which demonstrates a deliberate strategy to appear a certain way to the outside world. You see contractors, you’re not alone in perhaps being slow converts to personal branding!

In our prime minister’s case, and assuming those suggestions in the media are sound, it is quite likely that she is different behind the scenes than she is on stage, or in front of the cameras. Her personal brand is carefully managed in the public domain.

Businesses branding

Personal branding is no different to how businesses make conscious decisions to cultivate their corporate identity. Contractors can and absolutely should think along the same lines to make themselves more attractive to potential clients.

Ms Truss has obviously made it all the way to the top of the ladder. So who is to argue that personal branding does not work?!

Contractor personal branding -- in four quick steps

Step one of personal branding is to decide how you want to position yourself in your market. In the same way that some companies are cheap, cheerful and generalist, and others cultivate a more specialist and exclusive status, contractors can make a similar determination about their own market positioning.

Cryptozoology (don’t be like Bigfoot)

Step two is to find something to communicate with the world. Excusing my random ‘cryptozoological’ analogy, but think of it this way: mythical Bigfoot might have studied the topic of personal branding in exceptional depth and gone to great lengths to decide how this hairy giant wanted to appear to the outside world, but as no one ever sees Bigfoot (apart from the odd fleeting clip on a fuzzy trail cam), it’s all a bit futile!

Joking aside, it doesn’t matter what you have decided your personal brand is going to be if you never interact with the outside world. An audience (and exposure to that audience) is important! All businesses rely on generating business and the more prospects they have, the more business they are likely to generate.

As a contractor, it makes sense to think in a similar way and build an audience of prospects that might, in the future, become your clients.

Who, what, when and where

To create an audience for yourself, you need to talk about something, sometimes, to someone, through some kind of channel of communication, so think about what your areas of expertise are, and write some articles, guides, or whitepapers on the topic. You could even create some educational videos, run a webinar or get yourself on TEDx.

Step three is to choose your channels of communication. And initially, I would look no further than LinkedIn. If you can build a network of people you want to put yourself in front of, and drip feed useful content to them i.e., articles, guides, whitepapers, videos, webinars, you will be making significant strides to cultivate your personal brand and raise your profile.

Your visibility on LinkedIn (it's probably suffered)

Crucial to all this is knowing how to write a great LinkedIn profile. If you are communicating your personal brand on LinkedIn, your LinkedIn profile is where people will end up. So having a profile that supports your communications strategy – a bit like how prime minister Truss supports her personal branding with her comms strategy -- is extremely important. That’s step four.

In addition, LinkedIn has recently made some changes that significantly affect your visibility to others. If you have not updated your LinkedIn profile in the last two months, it’s highly likely that you have dropped down to the bottom of the search results because of the changes LinkedIn made in June.

LinkedIn changes? All will be revealed, so book your webinar slot now...

Join us for a webinar via ContractorUK on Tuesday September 27th at 7.15pm (step five!), to find out about these changes, including what you need to do to boost your LinkedIn visibility to contract recruiters and clients.

Register or find out more here:

Profile picture for user Matt Craven

Written by Matt Craven

Matt is the Founder of The CV & Interview Advisors and Incredibly Linked. He is considered to be a thought-leader in Personal Branding and is regularly engaged as a public speaker to deliver advice and guidance to global audiences on all things related to CV authoring, career advancement, LinkedIn, personal branding and thought leadership.
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