Everyone is aware of business branding. It’s part of our everyday vernacular – skincare brands, clothing brands, even technology brands. However, the idea of ‘personal branding’ remains unconventional to many.
Your personal brand is how you promote yourself; it’s the combination of personality, experience and skills that you choose to put out into the world – it’s how you want yourself to be perceived. Whilst one’s personal brand can exist both in person and online, in our increasingly virtual world, building a personal brand is a fast-growing phenomenon. Particularly in recent times, when it has been more difficult to network and build connections face to face, the way you present yourself and are received online can be critical to your career prospects.
We recently caught up with Skevi Constantinou, founder of the fantastic networking and lifestyle platform for Assistants The PA Way, to ask her advice on how PAs and EAs can begin to build their own personal brand.
How would you describe personal branding?
“Personal branding can be so much fun in many ways. You can be very creative, show different elements of your professional/personal life if applicable and much more.”
How would you describe your own personal brand?
“I would like to think that I bring fun and a fresh perspective to my professional career. I am true to who I am. Many people who connect with me on LinkedIn, who have then met me in person, always say ‘You are exactly who you are on social as you are in person!’
“I endeavour to be my own authentic self – all I know is how to be me. I remember meeting some musicians growing up, of whom I was a fan, but when I met them in person, they were so rude. It really enforced that who I ‘believed’ them to be from what I saw, was not true to who they were in real life. Therefore, it’s important to me to stay real to my story and journey – that is the one I live through experience.
“I love the profession I am in so much, the power of Assistants and office support professionals. My focus is to ensure that they are rewarded, recognised and celebrated both professionally and personally.
“If you meet me in person, I guarantee we will be having a cup of tea and a biscuit! (Bonus points if Family Circle biscuits, can’t beat a good selection like that!)”
Where and how did your personal branding journey begin?
“Honestly, I just started.
“I saw The PA Way in my dream in February 2018 and I was so excited by it! I simply wrote down what I had seen in my notebook and then started to plan. I am not good with technology, but I am a very creative person so everything I see in my head is ‘colourful.’
“I would turn up outside my work at 6am, go for a walk and then wait for Pret A Manger to open. Once opened, I would sit inside for two hours watching online learning videos on YouTube before I started work – videos teaching me about how to build a website, Mailchimp and beyond. I just kept learning and developing. I did this every day, 7 days a week for two years straight, as I was still working a full-time job as an EA.
“The PA Way was grown from my heart, my mission to inspire change, Pret A Manger and YouTube!
“I haven’t slept a full eight hours since 2018 as I get so excited with success stories of members, the profession, training, events and beyond!
“It’s very addictive, as it is so rewarding and fun, but I work 7 days a week, 18+ hours on most days. I know that, in order for me to stay creative, I need to start putting self-care processes in place too.
“With regards to my own personal branding journey, I genuinely just showed up (and still do) every week for the last three years. Consistency is key.”
You have a strong presence across social media, especially on LinkedIn – how has your personal brand helped to grow your audience?
“Without LinkedIn, I would have no The PA Way. That single platform changed my whole life and has allowed me to have a career that I love waking up to. I love connecting with what I call my ‘LinkedIn family’, who are the most UNREAL people when it comes to support, positive vibes and beyond.
“Not only do I have the most amazing professional network when it comes to Assistants and office support, but I have incredible, supportive, kind and lovely connections outside of the industry. I genuinely love LinkedIn so much and I am self-taught.
“For a business, I personally believe it is a really powerful platform. Plus, I get to talk about music in my DMs with some fellow music fans, which is great for me as I work on my own with no team so there is no ‘office banter’. LinkedIn is a little saving grace for me!”
What has been the most important factor in growing your own personal brand and audience?
“Honesty. Always be honest. When I see people posting about how they created a successful business overnight and everything was peachy, with no emotional rollercoaster or mistakes, I don’t believe or buy into it.
“Being a start-up is the most incredibly hard thing I have done in my entire life especially as I have no one around me (as I would in an office).
“It’s just me, self-learning and dedicating my purpose to inspire change on some scale for my profession. I am trying each day and that is all we can do, with a hope to achieve our goals.”
How has your personal brand directly impacted your career?
“It has allowed me to speak up on important subject matters such as bullying as there are many people suffering in silence. Those who are too scared to speak will privately message me on LinkedIn saying how much my ‘truth’ has helped them and inspired them to change their situation. Knowing that such a bad time in my own personal life has somehow, even in a small way, helped someone who may be hurting or scared to speak up, makes it worth showing up on LinkedIn every week.
“Regardless of whether we help one person or hundreds, we all have the light inside of us to inspire change.
“My personal brand has allowed me to speak to my profession at various conferences, get involved with fundraising, create magical events and most of all, help office support professionals be celebrated. That makes me so happy.”
Why do you think that personal branding is so important for the careers of PAs, EAs and other business support professionals?
“They are the office celebrities, that’s why! They are the most amazing people in the office; hardworking, endlessly talented, multi-tasking and efficient people! By having their own personal brand, they can create more opportunities for them to level up and soar. It goes without saying, I will be there on the side-lines cheering them on!
“When I see any office support professional creating their own personal brand, I genuinely get so excited because we are one step closer to the goal to be recognised and rewarded, amplifying the voices of these amazing people!”
What are some common mistakes that PAs and EAs make when crafting their personal brand?
“To be honest, I don’t think there is a mistake. You either win or learn along the way. If you try something and it doesn’t work out, that’s so okay! You tried something new, you pushed yourself outside of you comfort zone, you experimented. Now take that, review it, and look at how can you level up next time – what can you do to be better, how you can push yourself. You must trust the process.
“The fact is that you have tried. Without trying, you will never know what magic awaits you and, if it isn’t right, keep going and being your own cheerleader! You just have to believe in yourself.”
What advice would you give to the Assistants in our audience looking to create or strengthen their own personal brands?
“Try. The moment you switch your mindset from ‘what if’ to ‘what now’ – then you have just unlocked your potential. I will be here to celebrate your wins and support you on your journey the whole way.”
Thank you, Skevi!