Accepting this is happening, we need to be fully aware of the brand we are putting out there - oh yes, in case you thought it was optional, having a personal brand is happening right now, whether or not you have put any work into developing a personal brand. People are judging you based on your opinions, values, the things you say, what you do - and what you don't do. People are making their mind up about you based on how you dress, how you do your hair, what shoes you're wearing (and maybe even whether or not those shoes are clean). The difficult thing is, when we do personal branding by accident we have no idea if other people are judging us well or deciding they don't want to be associated with us. And we have no idea if that accidental personal brand reflects how we want to be known.
This is where purposeful personal branding comes in.
It's time to decide what you want to be known for, how you want to be recognised, why it is that people will remember you. Some of the purposeful personal branding is about your appearance, how you look, the image you portray (just think Steve Jobs and his trademark black top), and some of it is about your values, beliefs, morals, opinions, statements.
When did you last write out what it is that you want to be known for? When did you think through and own your opinions without worrying what others might think or say? Unless you did this in the last 3-4 months, you need to work on your personal brand. You might find the following questions helpful to get you started:
- What do the clothes you wear say about you? Who else dresses the way you do? What comments do you hear others make about these other people? Would you be happy if you heard these things being said about you?
- Is there anything about your personal style that you can change easily, cheaply, without much effort? I recently realised that my wardrobe had become a bit bland so my first change was to buy a beautiful scarf with a mix of teal and fuschia pink in it - it's been remarkable how many people have commented on how these colours lighten up my face.
- Your successes can be attributed to certain characteristics, personality traits, approaches to work. What are the 3 key factors that you attribute your successes to?
- What words do people use to describe you? You don't know? Ask! Go onto social media and ask your friends to give you 3 words that describe you (eg inspirational, funny, enthusiastic). When you read through the words are you happy that people use these to describe you? By the way, if very few people answer you when you ask this question, don't be afraid of messaging people directly to find out what they think.
- If you were to choose 3 words to describe yourself, what would they be?
- Is there anything you need to change about how you put yourself across to be able to match these 3 words?
- Are you working to your zone of competence (those tasks you do because you might as well, you'll get it done quicker if you do it yourself), or your zone of genius (those tasks you do that make you shine, that show off your true talents, that help others to shine too)? Which does your personal brand match - your zone of competence or your zone of genius? Which do you want it to match?
- What would you want written on your headstone? I'd like mine to say "She made a difference."
Developing your personal brand takes a little time - once you've got it, though, you'll find it so easy to live to your brand. Everything will fall into place. Wouldn't that be amazing?
I'd love to read about how you developed your personal brand in the comments below - or if you have a question about developing your brand, post it in the comments.