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Employability Is One Of The Key Reasons Why Personal Branding Is So Crucial: Aniisu K Verghese

BW Education engaged in a conversation with Aniisu K Verghese, an award-winning internal communications leader, author, speaker, trainer and blogger, to know about his online course on personal branding.

Aniisu K Verghese is an award-winning internal communications leader, author, speaker, trainer and blogger with over 22 years of experience. His mission is to help individuals and organizations discover and develop their sweet-spot through effective communications. His blog Intraskope (www.aniisu.com) is India’s first platform for internal communication professionals, academicians and students who want to get better at this evolving and growing domain. He runs a series of thought leadership interviews on Personal Branding, Internal Communications and CSR Communications. His Personal Branding Course is available on Udemy. More about his work can be read at www.intraskope.com, his YouTube channel and on Linkedin.  Excerpts from the interview:

Give a brief account of the online course on personal branding.  

My online course Personal Branding 101 – Unlock Your Potential and Get Ahead on Udemy is for anyone from any walk of life – students, professionals, managers, leaders entrepreneurs, not-for-profit community members, academicians, homemakers or government officials. You don’t need to have a full-time job or a business to be able to build your personal brand. Irrespective of your age or role or status or connections, you can be your authentic self. 

The course is based on a simple framework called the 3C Model of Personal Branding. It consists of research-led insights, practical steps, templates and resources for people to become their best selves at work, in the community or anyplace where they want to make a difference.  The model consists of Clarity, Commitment and Consistency as the 3Cs which are bolstered when you focus on Building Expertise, Adding Value and Reinventing Yourself. The sweet-spot is developed when Communications is foundational to the effort and you take continual feedback. There is a free assessment anyone can take to know how they fare with their personal brand.  

From where did you derive the inspiration for initiating this course?  

I have been a visiting faculty in a few B-schools in the country, conducted workshops and engaged with students over the years. As a speaker, blogger and author, I have connected with working professionals at various national and international forums. Also, I have worked for two decades in organizations at various levels, managed communication departments and teams and coached leaders and professionals on communications. The biggest challenge I have observed is the inability for people to understand their own selves, differentiate, add value and stand apart in a fiercely competitive environment. The lack of clarity about their strengths, inability to align their words and actions, the fear of automation taking away jobs, the lack of opportunities to progress and a tough business environment combine to create situations where people fail to carve a niche for themselves and be known for who they truly are. Often, people have reached out to me through social media networks like Linkedin for advice on distinguishing themselves and establishing credibility among peers and in the industry. All this resulted in me considering a framework which is easily accessible and implementable for those wanting to be their best selves. Lately, I have been running a Personal Branding Series on my blog and on my YouTube channel – Intraskope, with interviews with professionals, entrepreneurs and academicians.  The fundamental premise is that all of us have a personal brand already. Often, we are unaware of the impressions we create through our actions and inactions. The effort we take to understand ourselves better, learn more about the people we serve and find ways to be consistent with our values while contributing to ‘others’ is when a personal brand will flourish. It isn’t about fame or fortune but about being true to yourself and gaining fulfillment. 

How can it impact the employability of students?  

Employability is one of the key reasons why personal branding is so crucial. There are thousands of students emerging from technical and management institutions every year and there are limited jobs or opportunities to fulfil on the supply side.  There are reports which indicate that a majority of these students lack employable skills despite their qualifications. Often, it is the soft skills where the gap exists. More importantly, very rarely do students think of differentiating themselves from the start. It only becomes evident for them when it comes to getting placed in a job. What’s even more surprising is that landing a job is not equal to holding a job or staying relevant in a job. If you aren’t passionate about the role or the business or the opportunity you have, it won’t be long before you find yourself out of it. Likewise, if you aren’t investing in becoming the best in your domain, adding value, sharpening your saw and reinventing yourself, the writing is on the wall. Therefore, personal branding is fundamental to a student’s or a professional’s or an entrepreneur’s or a government official’s skillset.  

How popular do you think such courses are in India?  

Most courses focus a lot on personal grooming, image building, dressing, confidence-boosting and public speaking. While these are important assets to have, often these fall short of addressing the key need: understanding and differentiating yourself, authentically. You can’t gloss over your personality and project an image that isn’t who you are. Sooner or later, people will see through the gimmick. The popularity of personal branding is slowly gaining traction. There are more people who offer ‘services’ for temporary solutions like more followers or views to a social media page. That, unfortunately, is a temporary intervention and can even harm the reputation of the individuals. Personal branding is a long-term journey and anyone thinking using this tool to get famous and gain fortune won’t last long.  

How do you look at the changing landscape of the Indian education system, specially post COVID?  

With the new education policy underway there is a lot of hope and aspirations that students can have more flexibility and focus on their strengths and less on what the usual trends are. They will also be employable and compete with the rest of the world. There is, however, a long way to go. Unless we move to helping students appreciate critical thinking, challenge the status quo and learn to collaborate rather than compete, there will always be gaps. Also, with COVID-19, the next normal will mean newer and different skillsets than what the previous generation needed – from digital to coding, from data analytics to artificial intelligence. In a recent survey on online learning, 81% of students in India felt that COVID-19 will affect job opportunities. What’s important is that in the future, people who can make sense of complexities, take an empathetic view to the world around them, synthesize information better and faster and create newer experiences for others will be the most sought after. There will be more people wanting to be independent and charting their own paths. This is where personal branding comes in more than ever. How do people demonstrate proven abilities? How can they add value and be consistent with doing what they do best? What will make us be of service in ways that matter?  



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