A breakfast with Jennifer Holloway: Personal branding ex·tra·or·di·naire

I was recently suggested to attend the New Media Breakfast(#nmbrek) in Glasgow and as soon I opened the website and saw the next session was on Personal Branding by Jennifer Holloway of Spark, the £12 needed for booking didn’t deter at all. From the quirky and cheeky orange background profile picture of Jennifer to her explanation of who she is- I was completely hooked. And to top it all- there was an opportunity to meet her one on one! I was quite late in requesting a private audience with Jennifer and was feeling a little upset but hoped there would be a last minute cancellation.

Early morning start for #Nmbrek and I was there at the glamorous 29 studios at 7.30 sharp. I was told like last month t

here were 100 people expected to turn up which is quite a number. It was my first time there so was slightly nervous but ran into quite a few familiar faces. And to my utmost delight, I was approached to say that there was a cancellation and if I was interested I could get some time with Jennifer. You should have seen my uncharacteristic mouth-wide-open clown smile with a ‘Yes!’.

Jennifer was exactly the way I imagined her to be from her profile on her website and the cheeky picture. Full of humour, confident and approachable- Jennifer spoke to a room full of professionals about the importance of personal branding – how you come across to people by starting with a powerful statistic.

On average it takes 7 seconds for someone to form a first impression of you. Put that into context, then the chances are that it will be 7 secs will be online- whether it is through email, blogs, twitter, facebook or LinkedIn. Harvard Business School say that 8o% of all first impressions are true. 90% employers google their candidates. So checking out what comes up when you google yourself, is extremely relevant for job-seekers.

It really made me think of how I project myself online.
I try my best to be the same chatty Hera I am in life as I am in my emails and tweets but I seriously had to consider how I came across through my LinkedIn.

So, how do I know I have a personal brand? Jennifer says it is not possible not to have a personal brand. She jokes whether you are wearing clothes or not wearing clothes- it is all part of your personal brand.

So, how do you form a personal brand? Well there is a very simple way, according to Jennifer: build your own pyramid (not joking!)

A pyramid of personal brand: image, skills, behaviour, reputation, beliefs, and values. Take all of this into account and then consider how you interact with people around you, online.  One of the things that she said that stuck with me the most was when she said that we all have a name attached to us when we are not there. So, if you are on your lunch break and say, oh have you met David from Accounts? Sally might say ‘Ooh whacky Dave- yeah yeah who doesn’t know him’. For Dave, ‘whacky’ is his personal brand perceived. He might want to change it but it’s important to know what his starting point is.

We had a really interesting session about LinkedIn profile picture. From slightly drunk on a night out to wedding pics and group pictures, we saw them all! It made me seriously reconsider my own LinkedIn profile picture and for those who are my contacts on LinkedIn, they can see my summary bit on LinkedIn now says ‘Under construction after an interesting eye-opener by Jennifer Holloway from Spark Branding!’

Jennifer showed us two examples of summary pages on LinkedIn/websites of people and it was interesting how 99% of everybody in the room would rather be stuck with the proffessional-but-interestingly described person on LinkedIn.

I had the pleasure of meeting Jennifer for 40 minutes. She is one of the loveliest and warmest people I have ever met. We spoke about my inability to say No to helping people and how to communicate effectively. I really enjoyed our discussion and she helped me alot to realise my own positives aswell as what I could work on: the speed of my  vocal AK47 🙂

I spoke to her about my frustration with students either falling into the category of sharing too much information about their nights out and their personal woes on twitter/LinkedIn or of not showing any personality at all on their social media forums. Her talk gave me food for thought for some of the events we are planning at the College of Social Sciences Employability at University of Glasgow. On my request she wrote us a little advice  tid-bit for students:

When I first started work having a degree wasn’t nearly as common as it is today, so when people spotted the qualification on your CV it was usually enough to bag you an interview. Fast forward 20 years and it’s a very different picture: there’s plenty of people out there offering the same skills and qualifications which means standing out from the crowd has become a lot harder.  So how do you find a unique selling point (USP) that you can use to your advantage? Well, the good news is you already have one – YOU.  And that’s what’s really going to get you into the interview seat and ultimately into the job. 

Because although it’s always been the case in business that people buy people, that’s growing in importance; the emphasis these days is much more on people’s values, beliefs and behaviours than just their skills and qualifications. So you need to make sure you a) know what your values, beliefs and behaviours are b) pinpoint how the unique mix of those make you different from those around you and c) understand how you communicate those in everything you say and do – all the while being authentically you.  Or to put it another way, you need to understand what your personal brand is because that’s what tells people the benefits they get when they buy into you.


With a career including 15 years in media relations and PR, Jennifer Holloway knows a thing or two about promoting a personal
brand – she did it every time she picked up the phone to a journalist.  The result? She stood out from the ‘press office crowd’ and got her stories on the front page. Today, she is a personal brand expert, helping executives to define their personal brand before teaching them how to promote that in everything they say and do.  Known as ‘The Antidote to Yes-Men’ her honest, challenging and practical style has helped leaders discover how, by being themselves, they can be even more successful.

Take a look at Jennifer’s Blog
Jennifer Holloway on Linked-In
Follow Jennifer on Twitter

This entry was published on July 4, 2011 at 9:44 am. It’s filed under Uncategorized and tagged . Bookmark the permalink. Follow any comments here with the RSS feed for this post.

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