We hear so much about the importance of having a personal brand, but what does that really mean? Put simply, your brand is your reputation, which is the culmination of almost everything you have ever done and said. As Amazon’s Jeff Bezos says, “Your brand is what people say about you when you’re not in the room.”
The reality is, you already have a reputation and you are 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.
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 people perceive you overall?
More to the point, how would you like others to describe you? 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 attached to your personal description. These could be anything from “I would like to be seen as having initiative,” to “being a team player,” to “being trustworthy and resourceful.”
Once you have a clear picture of the qualities you want attributed to you, start to think about actions you have taken to demonstrate those qualities. You may discover that there is a disconnect between how you want to be perceived and what you actually do to demonstrate those qualities.
The reality is that your skills, knowledge and consistency contribute to your brand as much as every other aspect of your persona. These include the following:
- How you show up in meetings, how you present information, and how you dress. In Greater Impact Workshops, we refer to this as your physical presence.
- 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?”
As 2015 comes to an end, it is a great time to assess which aspects your overall brand you want to develop further in the new year. And, as with all things, the first step is to develop greater self-awareness, and then to work consciously toward altering any sabotaging behavior.