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Shona Hamilton-Higgin, CEO, Lilac HR

Shona is the HR Warrior Princess CEO of Lilac HR and took some time out to speak with Rob Barratt from The Industry Leaders about the power and importance of building a personal brand.

Firstly, many people fear the words 'personal brand' as it means going public with your thoughts. I want to know if you have always found it easy to 'put yourself out there'?

No! Is the short answer! I used to be terrified at the thought of people seeing my face on business posts. I remember my first Facebook Live - I don't think I took a breath for about 3 minutes. But over time, with lots and lots and lots of practice it became easier.

When it comes to building an authentic personal brand, what advice would you give professionals starting out?

Just be yourself. Not everyone is going to vibe with you, and that's a good thing!! We only want to hang out with people who are on our wavelength so don't be afraid to show your personality and what you stand for.

Do you think personal branding and reputation go hand in hand, and what can people do to maintain a positive reputation while brand-building?

Yes absolutely! Positive reputation doesn't mean getting it right all the time. Somewhere along the way you will make some sort of mistake. But what defines your reputation is how you handle it. Companies are not defined by their refund requests or customer complaints, they are defined by how they treat people.

Can you share a success story of how you or someone you follow used their personal brand to build business or career?

Lilac HR is my brand. I am the face of the company and have been from the beginning, so the success of the company is reliant on my personal brand as the HR Warrior Princess. And so far it's worked! Back in 2018 my only client was my Dad's business and now we have 20 clients on retainer packages with us and over 100 clients that we have worked with on an ad hoc basis. Clients want to work with Lilac HR because they vibe with me as a person, with the added bonus that I know what I'm talking about when it comes to HR. People buy from people - and at the end of the day, it doesn't matter how good you are, if someone doesn't gel with you, they won't buy from you. So I make a point of showing my personality and being my true self in everything I do from Instagram stories to networking.

Which platforms do you find most effective for establishing thought leadership and growing professional presence?

I find the most effective platforms are the ones you enjoy using. I should probably use LinkedIn more than I do, but I hate using it. I prefer to use Instagram which means I am more consistent on Instagram which then means that I can create more of a presence and build relationships with my audience more. So I say it's not about the platform, it's about what you enjoy using.

How do you ensure your personal brand stays true to who you are and your evolving goals?

Your personal brand should reflect who you are anyway, because anything else isn't authentic. I think it's important to stay clear on your core values and recognise that your goals may change, but your values will maintain your personal brand on the journey.

What are some practical strategies or tactics professionals can use to expand their network and build meaningful connections?

Just be a normal human. If you vibe with someone, ask them if they'd like to grab a coffee. Build normal, human relationships based on a genuine connections. Be choosy about who you keep in your network. They might be great for business, but they could be damaging to your mindset and your energy. Put simply, hang out with people you like who encourage you to be the best version of yourself, both personally and professionally.

Along your personal branding journey, have you encountered any common obstacles that readers of this interview should be aware of?

I'd say mindset is the biggest obstacle. Its easy to get caught up in the things you think you "should" do. But the beauty of a personal brand is its yours. You get to decide what it looks like, how you build it and what you want to achieve. It's great to seek inspiration from others who already have a strong brand, but don't get stuck in comparisonitis.

Imagine you have a time machine that can transport you to the future. What impact do you envision your personal brand having on the world?

I would love for Lilac HR to be at the forefront of improving employment standards in the equestrian industry, but in a practical hands on kind of way. I'm not about writing papers and giving speeches, I want to make a difference to the people who are directly impacted by employment law.

Close your eyes and imagine you're a bestselling author. What captivating book would you write to share your personal brand journey and insights?

I would have to write a memoir of all the weird and wonderful HR cases I've dealt with in my time! Because although it's entertaining, it's the highs and lows that shape who you are and what you stand for. Plus, I found that working in a corporate environment really limited my ability to develop a personal brand, and it wasn't until I was in a space where I could be myself that I fully started to understand my brand.

Thanks so much for sharing your knowledge with us here! Where should people follow you to find out more about your work?


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