Recently I gave a presentation on personal branding to a group of young professionals who are members of an association. As part of the workshop, I challenged them to consider how they wanted to be perceived as a brand. Specifically, what did they want people to know about them upon meeting them for the first time. The responses were as diverse and creative as the attendees, but underscored the importance of thinking strategically about one’s brand persona. Many professionals don’t take the time to consider how they are positioning one of their most powerful assets—their brand’s identity.
In one of the more interactive aspects of the workshop, I worked with one of the professionals to help him flesh out his brand story. Essentially, I queried him on his skills, interests, values, personality, experience and more—anything that could potentially have a bearing on his brand promise. It was a rich exchange. Before long it became clear to all of us that he valued people and that this was a deep core value for him. It informed his work ethic, management style, the type of purpose he felt he was called to fulfill in his role, his relationships with colleagues and reports and even the way he showed up dressed for work. He was the perfect example to me of the heart of what personal branding is about—getting clear on your unique value proposition –your special points of differentiation from others in the professional arena.
Because here is the truth: we all have a brand, whether we leverage it or not, tout it or not. We are communicating messages all the time about who we are, what we stand for, and what we bring to the table. Yet so many professionals do not intentionally craft their brand personas but instead leave it up to the whim of others to define it for them. That approach leads to a weak, ineffective, inauthentic brand. Why leave your personal brand to chance?
“ You have the choice and the power to craft a strong, healthy, vibrant brand that engages, inspires and robustly performs. It starts with getting clear. It starts with intent.”
As a foundational step in building a strong brand, write out 6 or 7 attributes that you want associated with you. Think really intentionally about each one to ensure it resonates with you. Solicit feedback from your family, friends and co-workers. These descriptors will be the platform from which you start to create a meaty narrative for your brand. Your narrative is everything about you; all of the salient experiences, interests, skills and aptitudes you possess anchored by your values, beliefs and character. This is where you will do the heavy lifting defining and shaping your brand so it is positioned for success.
Your brand is very much aligned with your reputation in the workplace. Like a corporate brand, it is your promise of what others can expect from you. Take the time to build a solid foundation, to shape it in a way that propels you forward and helps you achieve your professional aspirations.
Look for part 2 of this post where I will discuss the 6 key features of a strong personal brand.
What 3 words would you want associated with you?
Natalie Jobity is an inspirational author, marketing consultant and freelance writer and editor. She is the author of the Amazon Best-selling style guide: Frumpy to Fabulous: Flaunting It. Your Ultimate Guide to Effortless Style.