We all love brands. From the shoes on our feet to the purses on our shoulders, we spend quality time with our favorite brands. We’re intentional about wearing and pairing them, and telling our friends about them.
But what about the brand closest to you? Your personal brand. All of us have one but many of us fail to cultivate it. And truth be told, building a strong personal brand is perhaps your best professional asset.
What is a personal brand?
As with a company brand, a personal brand is that mental real estate you own in a person’s mind. And how you present yourself, with each interaction, either adds or subtracts from that mental picture and shapes how they perceive you.
All of us have a personal brand, even if we don’t realize it, and we should all be intentional about developing that brand to achieve a specific goal. And that starts by asking yourself some really tough questions:
- What do you want your personal brand to be?
- What do you want to use it to accomplish?
- At the end of the day, what do you want to be known for – what is your legacy?
Some examples. If you want to be the next Michelle Obama, are you known in your circles as a classic beauty with the smarts to match? Or if your goal is to become the next Tory Burch, are you on the cutting edge of fashion, setting trends not following them.
Your personal brand is the very essence of who you are, and to pull it off, every single thing you do should reinforce it. You want to be perceived as the expert in whatever it is you’re doing, from the C-suite to the school PTA. And channeling energy into doing it right will have a big payoff.
What is your personal brand?
While I’m good at what I do, I can’t answer that question for you. Only you know what you’re good at. But, if you’re struggling to define it, consider your elevator pitch. You know, that 20 second or so value statement you should have memorized by now that tells people what you do for a living.
Now go a little deeper, because this isn’t just about doing a job. Creating a personal brand statement for yourself will outlast your current career situation and be a key selling factor for other projects you’ll want to pursue. So, let’s get started.
Go grab a pen and jot these things down:
- What makes you different? What values and ideals do you stand for and how have you shown a commitment to that value system? Also consider the things that you do very well and have experience in. Your knowledge of your strengths will go a long way when someone is looking for an expert in that area.
- Be authentic. Are you compassionate, assertive, or charismatic? Really think about those character traits that fit your personality and build your brand around them. You can’t sell folks on one thing and practice the opposite. So, don’t be phony. Build your brand around the real you.
- Be the best you. Now, giving you permission to create your personal brand around the real you is no excuse to make a mess of things. The real you should be polished and professional, kind, genuine, and approachable. You’d be surprised at how many people may consider you because of your talents, but dismiss you because of your poor attitude. Don’t be in that group.
- Send a consistent message, in person and online. Every word you utter and type helps to shape your personal brand. From handshake to keystroke, treat your personal brand as if someone were taking an account of everything you do to see if it all adds up to who you say you are. That includes your offline networking strategy as well as your digital strategy. And by digital, I mean your social media presence, website, emails, and the like.
Does that mean that everything you do has to read like a resume or that you should talk like a brand crazy robot? Please don’t. But it does mean that you should be thoughtful and strategic about what you share and it should all point back to building your personal brand.
It all comes down to this
Confidence. Confidence should be the first thing you put on every morning, because without it, you’re exposed to anything and everything that could chip away at what you’re trying to build. Personal branding is about tapping into your value and telling a story that attracts people to what you have to offer.
Your business brand should not overshadow your personal brand nor is it in competition with it. They should complement one another, dancing in time to the rhythm of your life.