Personal branding can make or break your chances of professional success. In the court of public opinion, your only chance of winning favor is to have a cohesive brand that others respect. With November 6 less than two months away, the stakes are high–there can only be one winner. For the presidential candidates, success is in the numbers and winning the majority vote is inextricably linked with putting adequate energy into personal branding.
A recent poll by Esquire and Yahoo! found that three in four Americans feel little or no personal connection to Mitt Romney. Unfortunately for the Republican presidential candidate, the outlook may not be so good and it’s all because of mismanagement of the personal brand. One slip of the tongue can dramatically impact your chances of success in the quest for professional success.
The foundation upon which you lay the groundwork for your personal brand dictates whether it will get you noticed. Take these personal branding lessons from the 2012 presidential candidates to build a solid, impenetrable reputation:
Though you’ve begun a quest to establish yourself as a brand, you’re still a human being who others must feel they have things in common with, if they are to support you as a brand. Whether you’re looking to establish yourself as an expert in a field or you have the short-term goal of finding employment, if the influencers in your industry don’t feel a connection to your message, they’re unlikely to support it. Both Romney and Obama have aligned themselves with a political platform and rely on campaign donations (and votes) from people who agree with their viewpoint on these topics. Once you’ve decided what you stand for, build your brand atop these principles and be sure you’re vying for a cause with an existing audience.
Pretending to be something you are not will not benefit you and serves to lessen your credibility in the end. A wealthy candidate such as Mitt Romney wouldn’t build a personal brand or a campaign platform around allotting more of the federal budget to welfare benefits. It doesn’t align with his background or core values. Your personal branding efforts should center on incorporating the core elements of your personality with your skills and accomplishments, which must be portrayed candidly to be effective.
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True, we live in a society where freedom of speech is one of our most valued rights, but you shouldn’t take this as license to be offensive, brash, or just plain insolent. Consider the potential backlash that your words may have before voicing them to the public. Words are powerful and can be easily misunderstood in a way that changes the way people perceive you and your brand. One thoughtless remark, racy photo or embarrassing video can drastically alter where you stand in the court of public opinion.
The presidential race may be anyone’s to win at this point, but a few lessons in personal branding can certainly be learned from the current political battle. Namely, pick your platform, stick with it, and make sure that nothing that’s potentially damaging to your reputation.
What other lessons can be learned on building a personal brand from the 2012 presidential candidates?
Heather R. Huhman is a career expert, experienced hiring manager, and founder & president of Come Recommended, a content marketing and digital PR consultancy for organizations with products that target job seekers and/or employers. She is also the author of Lies, Damned Lies & Internships (2011),#ENTRYLEVELtweet: Taking Your Career from Classroom to Cubicle (2010), and writes career and recruiting advice for numerous outlets.