Steps to Building an Outstanding Personal Brand for a Doctor

A powerful personal brand can get you ahead professionally. It's a tool doctors can use in crafting a career that's diverse and fulfilling.

In medicine, being a doctor is somewhat of an identity. Your head turns at a call for a doctor, in and out of the hospital. It is no surprise when you leave then, that you find a loss of identity. Are you still a doctor? What are you now that you’ve left a career practising medicine? This article is going to walk you through the steps you need to take if you want to create a personal brand for yourself.

Firstly, do know that you are in no way diminished. In fact, you’re more complex and interesting than merely being a doctor. But now you’ve got to search deeper and ask yourself what your values are and what you bring to the table – what your brand is. 

See, we spend so much time consuming media and advertising, that we forget that we and our names are brands in themselves. Our personal brand speaks for us; how well we sell that brand can determine the trajectory of our careers. Think about it. Getting chosen for a job or opportunity requires marketing yourself and the value you bring. How do you stand out when everyone else wants to be chosen as well?

I’m fascinated by this idea of curating ourselves and being in control of our narratives to better serve us. So I’ve taken this opportunity to delve deeper into the matter and share with you some golden rules of personal branding. To get started, I sought Shade Zahrai, a career growth strategist. In Shade Zahrai’s words, personal branding is establishing and consistently reinforcing who you are and what you stand for in your career and in life.

Personal branding should be a true reflection of who you are. You’ve got to differentiate yourself from others and present a version of yourself that is aligned with your values and what you stand for. That includes your strengths, your opinions and principles, your experiences, your character, and your story. 

A social experiment

Understanding how others see us is a good first step to determine if the personal brand we aim for is well-reflected. In a little experiment, I asked a group of people I know professionally to describe me. Here’s what they said:

“Creative, observant, outspoken, empathetic, one who keeps trying, a divergent thinker, and is unafraid to explore new ideas.”

“You rise above worldly tangles and tensions but also engage with the world. Whereas one would think dealing with problematic speakers is incredibly dispiriting, you always have a good sense of humour about life situations. You’re like a tai chi master who won’t stop in the face of fear, but will crouch down to pick up someone’s fallen bicycle.”

How does this compare to the way I see myself and how I want to be known? It offers me the opportunity to critically evaluate how others see me and determine if it’s the kind of brand I want to project.

The career strategyHow do you identify the key focuses of your career and its trajectory? 

It helps to know which field you want to pursue and the kinds of roles you see yourself doing, be it in medicine or out of medicine, clinical training, or non-clinical. 

Have a real good look at your CV. How do you want it to look leading up to your dream role? It can range from being a specialist to climbing up the corporate ladder to academia. It can also be building a portfolio of your work to pursue something freelance. Consider what your priorities are and what finances and work-life balance look like for you. 

Let the space between where you currently are and where you want to be inspire you. Build your personal brand by seeking out opportunities and positions that will help launch you into your desired role. They don’t have to be a full-time affair. Being involved in projects, events, writing articles, and volunteering are some brilliant ways to demonstrate yourself, gain experience, and establish a brand. Build a strategy that works for you.  

Will this opportunity enable me to be more valuable and useful to the company/team/new industry I want to enter?

Is it something that allows me to do more of what I love and use more of my strengths?

Will it further my career advancement, making me more employable or skilled?

Will I be around others who inspire and empower me, and who I can learn from?

Shade Zahrai

PR matters in branding – How do you identify the people who can help you get to where you want to be?

There is no use being the best-kept secret no matter how good you are at what you do. Unless made known, your accomplishments don’t count for much and may not get you anywhere.

There is power in connection so it’s important that you raise your visibility and be promotable. Referrals and recommendations fill many jobs.

Network and get to know the people in your desired field. Seek them out and offer to buy them a cup of coffee in exchange for an informational interview. What cold emailing can do would surprise you. Tell them your story and listen to theirs. Ask questions and learn what it took for them to get where they are today. How can you apply that to your career strategy? Offer to demonstrate your interest by suggesting solutions to challenges in your field of interest.  Follow-up and continue offering value. Networking builds your name, puts you out there, and helps you get ahead.

Optimising your online presence is an indispensable way to get noticed as well. Social media is a powerful tool and you can learn how you can use it to your advantage. Google Primer is an excellent resource to improve your social media use. 

Different platforms can offer different branding strategies. Choose the one best suited for yourself, be it LinkedIn, Instagram, Facebook or Twitter. Create a simple page for yourself using Google Sites. House your links on Linktree. Put forward your most authentic self, share your opinions, advocate for positive change, and build your online presence. 

Your inherent valuesHow can you be completely honest about your story and life experiences?

Core Values – click to enlarge

Being self-aware and knowing your core values is empowering. It establishes your individuality and helps you pursue goals that are important to you. It also helps in decision making and allows you to quickly remove yourself from something that isn’t serving you.

Our personal brand is the outward manifestation of all that’s going on inside. It then influences the way we look, speak and deal with the people around us. Between our inherent selves and our interaction with people, is our values.

They are a reflection of your character, your principles, your beliefs, and your story.  Sit with yourself and properly reflect on what’s important to you. 

In a list of core values introduced to me by Sarita Walsh, she has asked us to select four core values. Avoid simply selecting the values that sound good to you. Instead, be honest with yourself and give yourself a good month or two to reflect and understand what gives you the greatest fulfilment. Genuinely. Use this if you need a more methodical guide to discovering your core values.

Constantly check in with yourself to see if you’re living purposefully and in alignment with your values. Are you surrounding yourself with people who share your values? Ideally, your professional environment should not be in conflict with your core values. 

How closely are you living your life both personally and professionally aligned to your values?

What are the goals that you’re working towards and how do your values play into them?

What different choices could you make in your life right now to help you live in greater alignment with your values?

Shade Zahrai

You are your biggest investment When people readily associate your name to your work, what outcomes will you expect out of it? 

Positive personal branding directly impacts your career trajectory. You can have so much control over how you want your professional life to look like, and this may just be what gets you there. It is all about building your reputation, creating a self-image for the world to see and marketing yourself as an individual.

Your brand is what people would say about you when you are not in the room. You get to decide the kind of success you want for yourself and be synonymous with that brand, so make sure they are saying something good. Your legacy lies in your hand, now put it into play!

Are you a doctor considering building yourself a personal brand? Write to us and let us know. Or are you interested in finding out more about alternative careers for doctors? Check out our career guides and find inspiration from our case studies. For those based in Malaysia, you can sign up for updates here, and follow our MF Malaysia Instagram and Facebook pages to stay updated on our events, webinars, job vacancies and more.

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Victoria Navina

Victoria Navina is driven towards policy and practice-changing public health interventions, and is a strong advocate for mental health, aiming to make the conversation surrounding it louder and unrestrained.

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