Your personal brand - Sounds like an exercise in ego-boosting, right?
Regardless of where you are now or where you want to go, taking control over your personal brand is not a self-gratification exercise of simply bragging about your achievements, but a chance to show the world exactly who you are and what you can do.
While you may think you haven’t got time for a personal brand, it’s not something you have to start from scratch with. You already have a personal brand. It is how people see you and what you are known for. As Amazon founder Jeff Bezos says; “Your brand is what people say about you when you’re not in the room.”
So, even if you’re not actively managing and crafting your personal brand, it is still in existence and still continuing to make an impression on others. So, if you’re not in control of it, then who is? If someone else is in the driving seat of your personal brand, then how can you control what is being said? Letting others having control over your personal brand means you may not be coming across how you want to. Potentially, you could be putting those career and personal goals just out of reach.
Remember, you are the CEO of your own career and life. Would you leave your branding up to someone without personal knowledge of what you do and what your goals are?
So, just what is a personal brand?
Often the first thing that comes to mind when we consider a personal brand is a website and online presence. While this is a fantastic way to optimise your brand, it is merely a marketing tool to facilitate your branding, not your brand itself.
Your brand is the person you are, what you do and the values you have. It is the reason behind decisions, the actions you take and the first impression you give out. As we know, first impressions count, because that is the first lasting memory that anyone will have of you and your brand.
Developing and cultivating your personal brand is a chance to show the world how you want to be known, both in and out of the workplace.
Why is a personal brand so important?
Think of your brand as a Google search. When someone types in your name, what do you want to appear? Furthermore, if you do actually search for yourself online, what is there? Are there any negatives that you want to change? Perhaps you are hard to find at all. Either way, by taking an active role in your personal brand, you can tailor what is there and what results you want to appear.
Consider the information you are actively sharing; are you showing the best version of you and who you want to be known as? If your hypothetical or real search engine results aren’t showing the real you, complete with your passions, drive and ambition, then it is time to take ownership and be your own Brand Manager.
So, why bother?
Whether in your career, friendship groups or dating, people will be doing their background research on you in any way possible. Some will seek out mutual contacts for information. However, most will resort to the internet. In all situations, you’ll probably want to make sure this brand information is creating the right impression. Does a straight-laced LinkedIn profile and a drunken antics Facebook page create a positive, unique perception of you? Probably neither are showing the Real You.
Did you know that 70% of employers screen candidates during the hiring process using social media? Furthermore, 90% of executive recruiters conduct online research in their potential candidates. So, if you haven’t been headhunted or still struggling to achieve that dream career move, the answer may lie in how hard your personal brand is working for you.
For those who are angling for that promotion in work, did you know that 43% of employers check in on current employees too? There is a lot your personal brand can do for your career, but without the right cultivation, it can hinder your progress.
What your personal brand can do for you
A personal brand is not for vanity or arrogance, but it is all about giving you the platform that shows who you are to the world. It is there to provide you with the confidence and courage that you need to pursue your goals. So, how else can a personal brand help you?
- Helps you to connect faster and more meaningfully with other people and attract opportunities and potential future employers and customers
- Gives you permission to invest time and energy in your most valuable asset – YOU.
- You get clear on your purpose, strengths and areas of development and focus
- Allows you to cut out the ‘noise’, and instead prioritise your actions and work out exactly what you want from life
What can go wrong with a personal brand?
Authenticity is key. It’s important to have clarity about your brand and integrate it into your daily actions so that the story is congruent when people meet you. You don’t want to have that moment where your integrity is questioned, or perhaps you are caught out for not being what you said you are.
Think back to Friends, where Joey overplays his dance abilities and is told to teach choreography, and it ends up with him making a sharp exit.
And sometimes, the only thing to do in the situation when you are ‘found out’ is to run away.
Overplaying your abilities and trying to be someone who you are not will not make your personal brand any better. Instead, you’ll be living in fear of being found out, reducing your confidence, courage and potentially limit your opportunities.
Whereas being authentic shows your skills and the areas you are keen to develop with honesty and passion. Instead, of overstating what you can do, you map out your progression, so that you can be confident in your abilities.
It’s important your personal brand is:
- Authentic - be honest about who you are and what your attributes and qualities really are. If you know yourself, you can promote an honest brand.
- Consistent - stick to your 'signature topics’ and repeat. A key focus of your personal brand is to stay consistent. The easiest way to be consistent is to be truthful.
- Compelling – cultivate your point of view and be clear about your USP
- Focused – You cannot please everyone, so don’t try. Be selective. Focus on the individuals, stakeholders and influencers who can get you to where you want to be. Don’t reach out to everyone.
- Visible – When you know where your selective audience is, then it’s time to network. Sign up for high profile projects, write articles, share your point of view online. Remember visibility should be both offline and online too. Don’t neglect your personal brand.
As the media shows, maintaining a perfect brand perception is not easy. One false move and it is easy to be Public Enemy Number One. However, the best way to combat this is to make sure your brand is clear and genuine, and that you work to build trust.
The best way to build trust is, quite simply, to always be true to yourself and others.
So who are you, really?
You’re a high performer; you want to make progress, quickly and want to put forward your best image. All good. Be aware of how you are portraying yourself as something different, or something you believe to be better.
Considering 92% of people trust recommendations from others, if your online profile doesn’t match up to the real-life you, people will believe what they’ve seen and heard from others, not what you are saying yourself.
Need more reason to be authentic? 94% of people will remain loyal to a brand if they are fully transparent in their actions. Be real, and people will have faith in you and stay a follower, friend and will want to help you to achieve your goals.
Ready to build your personal brand?
Start by focusing on what you want and who you want to be. Consider your passions, values and motivators as well as what truly makes you happy. Kickstart your own discovery by downloading my FREE personal brand survey or book a discovery call to explore how we can work together.