“A successful branding program creates the perception that there is no product on the market like yours.” ~Al and Laura Ries
We hear so much about the importance of personal branding, but what does that really mean for you? As Jeff Bezos of Amazon explains, “A brand for a company is like a reputation for a person.”
Put simply, your brand is what comes to mind when people think about you; it’s what they say about you when you are not in the room. This is the culmination of everything you say and do, in person and virtually, both verbally and non-verbally.
In my workshops on Personal Branding, we talk about Harvey Coleman’s three famous elements of career mobility: Performance, Image and Exposure. The reality is, however you choose to define a personal brand, you already have been and are currently being “branded,” whether you are consciously involved in the process or not. The challenge is to build a reputation on your terms, a personal brand that is congruent with the way you would like to be perceived, a brand that meets your organization’s goals and your personal goals, and assists you with your career advancement.
This of course raises the question of the extent to which you know how others see you. Are you aware of how your words and actions might enhance or detract from the way you come across?
More to the point, what words, images and experiences do you want people to associate with you? What do you want to be known for? One of the best ways to gain clarity about how you want others to think of you is to write down five words or phrases that you would like to be associated with. These could be anything from “I would like to be seen as having initiative,” to “being a team player,” or “being trustworthy and resourceful.”
Once you have a clear picture of the qualities you want attributed to you, start to think about the actions you have taken to demonstrate those qualities. You may discover that there is a disconnect between how you want to be perceived and how you are currently being perceived.
The reality is that your skills, knowledge and consistency contribute to your brand, but so does your physical presence. In Greater Impact Workshops, we emphasize those other intangibles, like how you show up in meetings, how you present information, and how you dress.
And there are other aspects of how you present yourself, including the following:
- How you answer your phone, write and respond to emails, and manage your social media. This aspect of your brand is your virtual presence.
- Your ability to manage conflict skillfully and handle both difficult people and difficult interactions. This is your interpersonal presence.
- Your ability to network and build mutually beneficial relationships. This component of your brand is your social presence.
Do you use all of these components as skillfully as you could? Or could you, as famed chef Emeril Lagasse says, “kick it up a notch?” Now is as good a time as any to reassess. As with all things, the first step is to develop greater self-awareness, and then to work consciously toward altering any sabotaging behavior.