Personal branding is about deciding to take an active role in managing the direction you want to take your life. Your personal brand allows you to manage your life and helps you to stop depending on others for your credibility and your success.
Your personal brand helps you make the most of what you have to offer. Brand You is your reputation, built one story at a time through the experiences people have with you. These stories will reflect what makes you unique or different.
As you start your journey to evaluate Brand You and then develop a strategy to build and promote Brand You, here are some pointers of what you need to look at.
You have to be yourself instead of trying to pretend someone you are not. It needs courage to be yourself and it takes conviction to stay the course.
The strategic process of personal branding makes you an active partner in creating the direction of your life. You get to decide what your unique promise of value is and who you want to share it with.
The stakeholders in your life are your family, your employers, your peers, your subordinates, your superiors, your community and everyone else who you have an impact on. They wish to know who you are and what you stand for. They want to know what you will do and whether what you will do is likely to be in line with their expectations of you.
You build credibility not through your words but through your actions. Your actions lead to creation of perceptions. If you live your personal brand and keep your brand promise to your stakeholders, you are on the path to building a strong credibility for yourself.
Your actions will have to align with your brand. These actions will validate that you can be trusted and demonstrate that you are credible.
As your brand develops, your confidence will start to grow. When you recognise your positives, your self-esteem reaches an all-time high.
Keep in mind that strong and confident brands can repel your audience as much as it attracts them. Not everyone can be your target audience. Not everyone will like or agree with what you stand for. Defining who you are means that you need to be brave enough to let your true self be visible.
A confident Brand You will highlight your strengths and give you a meaningful direction.
Differentiation is crucial to your personal branding success.
We notice differences among people very quickly. We are hard-wired to notice differences in one another. We do not have to be different for the sake of being different.
You need to be different. You need to present yourself differently.
When I was in college, I had grown my hair long, sported a beard and wore “bell-bottom” pants. This was my way of attempting to be different. It was then that my father called me and said, “You must get accepted in society because of your mind and not because of the clothes you wear or the way you comb your hair!”
This was a major lesson for me in “being different.”
In today’s world, everyone is exceptionally busy and so are you.
Brand You will have the energy and the ability to filter what are the right opportunities for you and which opportunities you need to let pass by. Your brand will give you the clarity to focus your energy on matters that can be important for you.
An energetic Brand You will help you to reinvent yourself.
You need to have a specialty or you need to develop an area of expertise. You cannot be better than others in everything. Think of what can you do that others cannot? Think of what can you do that is better than others? This could be at work where you may be the best analyst or the best accountant or the best designer. Or this could be at play where others want you on their team.
To develop a specialty, you have to start with what you know. Think of what you can do that few others know. What is the target audience that your specialty will appeal to? Are you willing to commit to investing personal time and resources to further this specialty?
It is not advisable to go down a path and after investing a lot of time and money, realise that you have made a mistake or that you are no longer enjoying this specialty.
You need to constantly connect and network with your audience. Your brand needs to build a strong relationships. You need to connect with the audience you have identified. You cannot communicate with the entire world. For your brand to be acknowledged and then accepted, you need to connect at an emotional level.
Building a strong personal brand helps you interact with your target audience in a clear and consistent way that quickly becomes comfortable and familiar. This consistency builds trust in your target audience, which allows those emotional connections to form.
Remember that you must not lose connections as you expand your network. The biggest mistake most people make is to forget the relationships they made at the early stages of their career..
Be Supportive and Supported
In your journey to create and build your brand, be supportive of others and seek out support from people. You need to be clear about who you are and what you need so that you can ask for support with clarity.
Most people want you to succeed. Very seldom will you find someone who wants you to fail and actively does things to harm you. If you know what you need, you know what to ask for.
Just like you can never be static, nor can your brand. Consistency requires you to use the elements of your brand over and over again as you continue to evolve.
An important part of the branding process is to get known for something. Your first step is to identify your best characteristics so that you know what to build upon.
Do not be overly sensitive while dealing with people. Most of us constantly worry about our actions not because of how we are doing but because of “what others will think!” We never stop to think that everyone is busy with their own lives. Most people have too many problems and challenges of their own. They do not have the time to think of or worry about what you are saying or doing.
You have to develop yourself in a way to ensure that you leave a legacy. People will remember you through your actions, your expertise, and the emotional connections that you make.
So do your tough work up front and reap the rewards down the road.
The author is an Executive Coach and an Angel Investor. A keen political observer and commentator, he is also the founder Chairman of Guardian Pharmacies. He is the author of 6 best-selling books, The Brand Called You; Reboot. Reinvent. Rewire: Managing Retirement in the 21st Century; The Corner Office; An Eye for an Eye; The Buck Stops Here – Learnings of a #Startup Entrepreneur and The Buck Stops Here – My Journey from a Manager to an Entrepreneur.
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