Where I come from, the banking world is a dog-eat-dog place where there are banks on every corner and not enough good bankers to run them all. If I had a dollar for every time I’ve heard the phrase, “We are on the lookout for a new loan assistant if you know anyone,” or “I wish we could find a junior lender that is up and coming in their career but I just don’t think they exist!”.
For reals, to other industries, bankers might seem like a dime a dozen but in this day and time, banks are on the hunt for talented, motivated professionals with good networks, and the drive to succeed. I’ve always heard bankers say, “You can teach anyone banking, but you can’t teach them to have a personality.” That being said, the opportunity door is wide open if you’re interested in a career in banking! (Ladies, high school girls, college women are you listening?)
This is where personal branding can be a game changer for you. Want to stand out from the crowd? Build a personal brand. Want to own public perception of you? Build a personal brand. Want to show future employers what you have to offer? Build a personal brand.
Let’s get started.
Benefits of a Personal Brand | I just recently hosted my first webinar for BankBeat called “The Benefits of A Personal Brand.” The webinar filled up a few days in advance which told me bankers are figuring out that in the changing banking landscape, their social media presence and branding is more and more important. Here’s why:
- People bank with PEOPLE. That’s right. Consumers build trust for their bank based on the people who work there. So what better way to build that rapport and trust than to develop a brand as a banker who cares for their customers?
- Visibility in the Market Place. I’m a big fan of making things happen. No sense in waiting around for shit to happen. Make it happen! Building your personal brand gives you visibility in the market place and allows you to stand out in the dense crowd of bankers. Shake that concern of drawing attention to yourself and be visible! It will pay dividends. Trust me.
- Drive Public Opinion. Why let others determine who you are when you can set the tone yourself? Creating and building your own brand gives you all the power to drive public opinion, whether you intend for it to or not.
- Builds A Network. Before I launched my blog, I really worked hard on my Twitter presence. I found relevant banking content, posted it regularly, and in turn, started connecting to bankers all over the country. How does that help you as a small community banker? Well, let’s just say having a banking network that doesn’t compete with you on a regular basis is uber helpful. My connections have enabled me to bounce ideas in a safe zone, learn from what is working for them, what is not, and hey, I just love connecting!
Where do I start? | You might be thinking to yourself, you know, Natalie, all of this sounds great and all, but how in the world do I even begin the process of building my own brand? Easy peasy.
- Understand your value. You are uniquely made and if you’re reading this article, you likely care about moving ahead in your career. Come to grips with what you bring to the table and bank on it! (See what I did there?)
- Determine your niche. My niche was a passion for advocating for women in banking and building up young women as future bankers. Your niche might be mortgage lending, or ag banking, or helping small businesses. You may be a whiz at accounting or IT and want to build your brand as one of the best in the biz. Figure out what your “thing” is and build on it.
- Develop social media skills. This may be where I lose some of you and if so, too bad so sad. This is where things get good. Social media single handedly propelled my personal brand. However, I got trained on how to use it and use it right. (Shout out to Allyson Twiggs Dyer!) Repeat after me, “There are right and very wrong ways to use social media.” Let’s say it again, “There are right and very wrong ways to use social media.” Got it? Good. Content is key, understanding algorithms, learning how to gain followers, and not self destructing by posting something stupid are MAJOR elements in building your brand on social media. You don’t have to be amazing at all of the platforms, but spruce up your profile, pick the platform you like best and the one that will likely have the best following based on your niche, and get some training. It will pay off!
- Be consistent. I have talked to bankers that want to build a brand on social media and they start off strong and eventually fall off the wagon. If you don’t REALLY want to do this, don’t force it. It just won’t work for you and that’s OK, but, if you are passionate about building a brand, you have to be consistent and post and engage with your followers daily. You must stay involved with your community and continue to tell the story of what you do best. It’s totally fine to not be “on” 100% of the time, just like anything, your brand needs a little TLC often to stay alive.
- Know your audience. My audience includes women in banking, bankers, bank vendors, etc. Determine your audience, based on your niche, and go after them accordingly. If you are targeting people who need a mortgage loan, engage with realtors, post content that includes info for first time home buyers, tips for applying for a mortgage, etc. Go after the right people.
- Be authentic. If you are faking it, it will be blatantly obvious and no one will take you seriously. Be real, be you. Show the good, the bad, and the ugly. People love transparency.
- Be patient. Building your brand takes time and patience. It won’t happen overnight. It took me the better part of two years to build my Twitter presence and the rest is still a work in progress. But stay after it! It will happen!
How will my bank benefit? | I’ve had naysayers mention to me that it all looks like self promotion with no benefit to my bank. Am I looking out for myself and creating future opportunity? 100% yes. Is my bank benefiting also? 100% yes.
- Employees with strong personal brands bring recognition back to the bank they represent. If you’re the #1 ag lender in your community, your bank is obviously going to reap the benefits. Duh.
- Your strong personal brand will help set your bank apart from the competition.
- Your bank receives a high return with little investment. Empowering you to build your brand on social media, allowing you to engage in your community, and being involved in initiatives that draw attention back to the bank don’t really cost that much but likely bring a return back to the bank in the form of increased exposure, new business, and notoriety. Talk about a ROI!
- People bank with people! Do the math.
You got this! Go build your brand!