Whether you know it or not, you have a personal brand, which speaks to your reputation and the legacy you are creating both within your personal and professional space. A strong personal brand can lead to career opportunities, while in contrast, a weak personal brand presents the risk of being overlooked.
Many people link personal branding to how you look and the styles you wear but personal branding goes way beyond this. Your personal brand is tied to your core values, the vision you have for yourself and the image you ultimately share with others.
Your personal brand should come alive as part of the process of connecting with others. The best personal brands are persons that remain true to who they are and still capture the hearts of others, while inspiring persons they don’t even realise are watching.
Why is Personal Branding Important?
Have you ever wondered what is the first thing that comes to mind when someone that can influence your future thinks of you or have you ever done a Google search of yourself to see what pops up? With both scenarios, you can almost immediately see the need to be intentional in building your personal brand.
We always hear the phrase, “you never get a second chance to make a first impression”. Personally, I always interpreted this to mean that the first impression should be one that will set you apart from others, build trust and be a true reflection of who you are. I like to tell my team that their future boss could be sitting right infront of them one day so it is important to always bring their best game. Not just because I want them to consistently deliver exceptional service, but moreso to highlight how important it is to be consistent in building their own personal brand.
For the first couple years of working with my boss, I treated every meeting like an interview ~ I was always overprepared! This was not because I was uncomfortable in any aspect of our working relationship; moreso, because I was quite conscious that my personal brand was still very much a work in progress.
Creating Your Personal Brand Identity?
First off, you have to find your why! What really drives you? What are you passionate about? Where are you headed and what do you want to be known for? Without that clear picture in mind, it becomes so much harder to build and live your personal brand each day!
As a transformational leader, I live and breathe continuous improvement and this is not just for the products and services we offer to the market. The ability to influence my team’s development both individually and collectively is a personal win and gives me great satisfaction! Of equal importance however, is my own self-development. This stays high on my agenda. My favourite author, John Maxwell says “true leaders never stop learning.” For me, this means staying on top of developments in my choosen field or reading articles on things that I am passionate about. Creating a strong personal brand requires you to keep learning in order to remain relevant and to make an impactful contribution.
Building Your Personal Brand
I am by no means an expert, but remember, consistency is extremely important in personal branding. The marketing concept of “on-brand” and “off-brand” also applies to personal branding.
In creating and living your personal brand inspired by your core values and personal vision, you have to keep your energy right and your circle tight. Never allow your personal brand to be dragged down by others.
“Always surround yourself with only people who are going to lift you higher.”Oprah Winfrey
Having self-confidence and self-belief is important when seeking to build a strong personal brand, but you must never lose yourself in the process. Understand and embrace your roots and passion!
“Perception is reality” becomes even more relevant in personal branding so be sure that your daily actions are intentional and filled with passion.ABE
Without strong integrity, your personal brand can be ruined before it even gets started. Persons must be able to trust you and you must live up to who you say you are. Inconsistencies in your personal qualities and character only make it difficult to connect with, influence or inspire others.
Remain genuine and true to who you are. This approach will ensure that your character does not appear flaky when presented with certain situations.
If you are really serious about building your personal brand, you need to become the subject matter expert! Becoming the “go-to” requires you to be competent in your chosen field so that you remain top of mind to others.
Last but by no means least, believe it when I tell you that the way you present yourself matters! Your personal style goes back to the image you wish to portray ~ so you need to always be on-brand. Sorry, you don’t get to have off days (unless you are sick in bed of course). So many people ask me frequently “how do you always manage to look so put together?” Guess what, it’s part of my personal brand! So I get up, get dressed and show up!
For us ladies, building a personal brand is a little more complex. My humble suggestion is that you lose the really tight or short pieces for work as they suggest that you are trying to hard (yes I said it!). If you are budget conscious, feel free to mix and match and try new colors and styles until you master the look you are going for. For the office, light make up, a presentable hairstyle and complementary bag and shoes, speaks volumes to your overall brand. So ask yourself each day before heading out the door, will my presence in the room add, subtract or complement?
Tip ~ Make an extra effort to get even more dressed up on the days that you are feeling at your lowest; this really helps to lift your energy for the day ahead.
Personal branding is real! So pause for a moment and give some thought to where you are, where you want to be and whether your current brand will take you there. A combination of self-evaluation, consistency and commitment, coupled with passion, your personal brand will start to come alive before you even realise it…..