I like to say you have a personal brand whether you like it or not.
What people say about you (when you’re not in the room), THAT is your brand; how people perceive you – how they feel as a result of having come into contact with you – whether in person, on the phone, via email or on social media – THAT is your brand.
So why wouldn’t you want to influence that?
If people’s collective attitude and feelings towards you are consistent, that means your personal ‘brand’ is becoming more defined in the eyes of the public (i.e. the community or marketplace in which you operate; your network, industry, profession).
If those feelings across the board are consistently positive, fantastic!
If they’re negative, well, you might like to work on that :)
If people don’t have an opinion of you one way or the other, then your ‘professional’ personal brand is potentially too ‘vanilla’ (i.e. you don’t stand out, you’re not memorable, you’re not seen as someone who stands for anything of substance – all of which is not good from a professional perspective).
If people receive mixed messages after coming into contact with you (again, personally or via another communication medium) – i.e. you’re provocative on Twitter but meek and mild in real life – then in all probability you’re all over the shop. If this is the case, you might want to start acting in a more consistent manner. At least this way, people will get a better handle as to who you are, what you do and, importantly, what your purpose is.
Start taking charge today!
I often include the slide below in my speaking presentations and it tends to resonate with people. I feel it’s a good starting point if you’re wanting to start taking charge of your ‘professional’ personal brand.
It works something like this – what you do matters; the actions you take, the people you help, the ideas you share – it all matters!
Broken down further, here are some examples of what underpins your professional personal brand:
THE CONTENT YOU PRODUCE
- Do you regularly create (and publish online) original content that does the professional ‘you’ justice? Is it useful, helpful, informative, educational, interesting, provocative (versus merely chest-beating)?
- Does it highlight in a positive way your ideas, perspectives, skills, knowledge, experience and expertise?
THE CONNECTIONS YOU MAKE
- Do you actively seek out and connect with like-minded people within your professional network? Do you invite them to connect on LinkedIn? Do you proactively organise coffee catch-ups (or larger meet-ups) with people in your online community?
- Do you bring people together, connecting individuals if you think there might be a social or business benefit for both parties (without the expectation of getting anything in return)?
THE CONVERSATIONS YOU DRIVE
- Do you actively partake in conversations on social media channels e.g. Twitter hashtag chats, LinkedIn Group conversations, comments sections of your own (and other people’s) blogs?
- Do you seek out speaking engagements so you can share ideas, concepts and perspectives that you feel are of interest and relevance to people in your industry, profession or the community in which you operate?
THE COLLABORATIONS YOU’RE INVOLVED IN
- Do you collaborate with like-minded individuals or professional groups to expand upon ideas that will benefit your profession, industry or community?
- Do you contribute to group projects, providing value in the form of contacts, ideas and expertise?
THE COMMUNITY YOU BUILD
Do these things consistently, passionately, on a regular basis – without the expectation of getting anything in return – and over time you’ll build and cultivate your own community, or what I like to call ‘village of support’ – a growing vibrant group of friends, fans, followers, supporters, champions, allies, enthusiasts and advocates of ‘brand YOU’ – who you are, what you do and, critically, stand for.
A village of support is much more than an amorphous network of contacts, and goes way beyond the collection of random people you’ve come into contact with at seminars and industry events and with whom you’ve simply swapped business cards – it’s much deeper and more valuable than that.
A person’s village of support represents a groundswell of people with whom you’re not just acquainted with but who know you well (or at least feel like they do), and who like, trust, and respect you.
These are people with whom you have a deeper connection with because you’ve cultivated relationships with them; you’ve contributed value to their lives, relentlessly, over time – without the expectation of getting anything in return.
Collectively, over the long haul, your commitment to these things – your content, connections, conversations, collaborations plus the community you build – will drive (and become representative of) your ‘professional’ personal brand.
Tell me again: Why wouldn’t you want to influence that?