Building a personal brand can be intimidating. Especially during a time when much of our interactions and activities with others are virtual, there’s a push to connect in authentic, meaningful ways. Melissa Pepper, president of Total Solutions and founder of the nonprofit Lead(h)er, recommended to recyclers the following strategies to develop your personal brand during a presentation to the Women in Recycling Council.

Your target audience is at the forefront

When you begin crafting your personal brand, look outward and think about what you can do for others. “We’re here to serve, not be served,” says Pepper. Consider your unique skillset and how you can be use it to help others. Think about what you have to give to your target audience. “There are all sorts of people out there that might need what you have,” she adds. 

Think about your personal strengths and styles

What makes up your unique skillset? As you write a description of your personal brand, consider your strengths and qualities—are you well-organized, hardworking, or dependable? Do you engage with the community through volunteer work? Think about aspects like your work ethic, attitude, or style—are you most comfortable in a business suit or do you prefer a more laid-back approach? 

Determine how your brand aligns with your company’s brand

Review your company’s brand description and find some ways to tie it in to your personal brand. The two brands shouldn’t match up perfectly but they should align with each other, says Pepper. “Figure out how to get your brand to generate demand for yourself and for your skills and [figure out] how it ties in to your company’s brand, so they’re both aligned,” she adds. 

Review your current online presence

Pepper recommends Googling yourself to find out “what the world sees.” Having a sense of your online presence will let you know how the internet sees you and give you an opportunity to add or update elements of your profile, including published articles or awards. If you plan to update your LinkedIn profile, Pepper recommends using first-person language on that platform. “You are not a company talking about yourself, you are a person…tell me what you accomplished and why I should care,” she says. “It shouldn’t be a copy-paste of your job description.”

According to Pepper, there’s no need to exhaust yourself by being on all social media platforms—it’s likely your target audience may only be engaging with a few select platforms. “You can’t be all things to all people,” she says. Part of your personal brand is knowing your audience and understanding what types of social platforms they gravitate to. 

Find out how your co-workers and supervisors see you

You have a personal brand at your workplace, says Pepper. One of the best ways to grow at your company is to find out what your colleagues or supervisors consider to be your strengths and weaknesses. “Discover how to harness the person you are to do the most good,” Pepper says. Don’t be afraid to go to your supervisor or mentor and ask them questions about what you may need to do at the company to succeed or grow. “You should be willing to ask for help and willing to say, ‘I want this,’” explains Pepper. 

Connect with the community

Connecting with the community may sound difficult, but recyclers are already working to make the world a better place, Pepper points out. More specifically, networking events (virtual or in-person) provide ideal venues to meet new people and exchange ideas. Pepper recommends taking an active approach to networking. Rather than attending events hoping to meet people, consider inviting someone to network alongside you and serve as your “wing-person.” Attend events and opportunities that may be outside of your comfort zone to find out how you can serve your community. Use your knowledge about your industry and job to help others and lend your expertise to the world and to connect with others.


Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay

Hannah Zuckerman

Hannah Zuckerman

Hannah is a Writer & Editor for ISRI's Scrap News. She's interested in a wide range of topics in the recycling industry and is always eager to learn more. She graduated from Bryn Mawr College, where she majored in History and a minored in Creative Writing. She lives in Arlington, Virginia with her husband.