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  • Writer's pictureJessica

Personal Branding Series Part 1 of 3: A Personal Reflection

Updated: May 3

My definition of personal brand encompasses how one reflects themselves into the worlds they interact with. Different worlds can have different reflections and focus. For example, outside the professional world, I sometimes introduce myself by sharing my deep love for cats. But, that's never the first thing I share when presenting myself as an experienced volunteer engagement professional.

In the professional world, a personal brand combines one's value proposition as an employee, colleague, and leader with what makes them unique from others who have a similar background. Personal branding can support one of the most important skills every volunteer engagement professional must have: relationship building.

Over the past decade, my short-and-long-term career goals have changed multiple times and my personal brand has changed alongside those goals. My personal brand will continue to evolve, but at the core, it is centred around my skills in building and maintaining connections, my passion for continuous learning, my experience in the non-profit sector, and my drive for high achievement.

In 2020, I summarized all that in two sentences:

"I motivate and coach others to learn, connect, do good, and do well."
"I'm incredibly passionate about stewarding relationships, coaching and mentoring others, and developing and improving processes."

I started this blog in 2020, thanks to advice from Rob Jackson. It allows me to continuously showcase my brand while learning from interesting people and exploring different ideas. Taking time to define my personal brand has helped me gain clarity on my professional identity, and access opportunities like speaking at conferences.

More recently, I've been thinking a lot about personal branding because my role at Pathways to Education Canada encompasses alumni engagement. Many Pathways alumni value personal branding resources from our organization (e.g. LinkedIn Learning courses on the topic). And of course, alumni stories are incredibly impactful in demonstrating the organization's impact. So, my colleagues support and coach alumni to tell their stories, which in turn can help these youth clarify their personal brands for employment and academic opportunities.

I'm privileged to glean learnings about personal branding through my work. This made me wonder about personal branding for other Leaders of Volunteers. Are we talking about this topic enough at our professional associations? Are we encouraging one another to work on personal branding, even when we aren't searching for new employment? Can personal branding be a critical tool in the volunteer engagement professional's advocacy toolkit? As always- I have so many questions! So please weigh in below!

So what's next? In Part 2 of 3, I chat with Kristen Loblaw about her personal branding journey and where it may lead in the future. In Part 3 of 3, Corina Sadler and I connect about specific personal branding choices she's made and how ethics and identity play into those choices.

Thank you to Kristen and Corina for taking part in this series. Learning from you has been an absolute pleasure!

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