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14th June 2012
“It is not enough to understand what we ought to be, unless we know what we are; and we do not understand what we are, unless we know what we ought to be”. –T.S. Elliot
A personal brand was once considered to be a luxury, usually developed by famous people at the top of their careers. No more, it is now a vital component of your career and your progression. You need it to stand out and make an indelible mark. You need to embrace the branding world and start thinking of your personal brand as your currency in the business world, your distinguishing trademark.
You may be wondering how I define a personal brand, the one I use when working with professional people is very simple. I see it as the impression you make, the emotion you engender in people, as realised as what they say about you when you leave the room. Think about it, can you remember hearing someone described as “one to watch”, “very well connected”, a go getter, very nice but ineffectual. It’s amazing how revealing those few words can be.
Why develop your very own brand statement?
It’s a crowded world so you need to stand out. What is unique about you? You know about the elevator pitch, now you need to know about your brand statement. In 10 words describe what you are and state it in terms of your uniqueness. Don’t underestimate how long and how hard it is to create this. Do it with a colleague, take your time. Consider this, if you can
Be your own brand boss
It is vital that you realise that you and you alone are in charge of your personal brand so you must become an independent agent in charge of crafting what impression you make on people. Two important thoughts when deciding on your personal brand:
· Seek strength in yourself and your attributes not in outside events.
· The person you need ever compete against is yourself.
How long do I need to work on my brand?
It’s a continuous exercise throughout your career not a once off. I work with people at all levels and in all sectors. It’s ironic but I find that the very best people are aware of the need to consult experts and willingly engage with mentors suitable to the different stages of their career.
Step 1 KNOW YOURSELF AND YOUR AMBITION
To know yourself you must answer this question: who am I and what do I want to be?
Your brand is inextricably linked to what you want to be in life. Do you ask yourself this question regularly? Who am I and what do I want to be? If not, you should start asking now and repeating at regular intervals. It is even more important to have a sense of your destiny in times of rapid change.
What is my Big Audacious Aim (BAA)
Everyone in business needs to have a Big Audacious Aim, by that I mean an achievement set 2 to 3 years into the future that they are working towards every day.
It could be a promotion, a new business, 50 per cent increase in market share. The idea is that you are drawn by something in the future, not driven by something from the past. CRAFT A BRAND TO MATCH YOUR BAA. Your personal brand must match your BAA. What is the point of being known for being a talented dancer if your BAA is to be the go to expert on personal finances?
STEP 2 AUDIT YOUR BRAND
Home truth number one: Everyone has a personal brand whether they are aware of it or not. Simply, it is what people say about you when you leave the room.
Home truth number two: your brand is either intentional or accidental, you are actively creating it or you leave it up to others to make of you what they will.
Do an honest assessment and find out what your personal brand is: use this this fast and simple exercise:
Find your brand identity (defined as what you would like to stand for). To do this write out 10 words that you think describes your brand.
Find your brand image (defined as how your brand is currently perceived by those around you). Ask some trusted work colleagues (If you are a business owner substitute customers) what words they would use to describe you. Further ask them to describe something unique about you?
Compare the list. That will tell you to what extent you are in charge of your brand. Remember the acid test is not what you say you are but what your colleagues and clients think you are!
Now see if the brand you are projecting matches your BAA. Here is a compendium of cases I have recently seen. There is only one example here
A clear example of a mismatch is the person who sees themselves as a future partner in a company but whose actions today are those of a self-absorbed person who never gives more than the minimum, is always looking for the easy way out and craves praise and recognition for just turning up for work. They may see themselves as vital to the company but their brand says I am a card puncher and not willing to go out of my way to build the company.
Remember the time you take now to audit, clarify and develop your personal brand will pay you back for years to come.
TOP 10 TIPS FOR DEVELOPING A MEMORABLE PERSONAL BRAND.
Here are top 10 easy wins for you.
1. Be authentic, it’s the only way. I don’t know how it happens but people can suss out a fake faster than you can imagine.
2. Embrace your difference. There is no point fading into the wall, your brand is all about standing out.
3. Your appearance does matter. Your style, made up of your clothes, hair, shoes, accessories really do matter. Deciding that you are above all that is in itself a brand statement.
4. Your energy matters. Underlying everything is your energy and your vitality. Nothing draws people in more than a high energy enthusiastic person. Get enough sleep, it’s hard to be mesmerising when you are shattered.
5. You are who your friends are. Be careful who you hang out with, just as happiness is infectious so is recreational moaning. Spending time with negative people who moan a lot can make you seem more down hearted than you really are.
6. Be encouraging to everyone. It costs nothing but can transform your brand. If you are the person who is a beacon of encouragement, generous with their time and advice, you will attract like-minded people.
7. Know yourself, use a variety of personality typing tools. My favourites are the enneagram and emotional intelligence. These allow you know how you understand the world and the drivers of your actions. Being completely self-aware and in control of yourself makes you stand out.
8. Become known as a problem solver. Although many people claim to be good at this my experience tells me that the opposite is true. Creative thinking really is rare, it’s easier to analyse and describe the problems. If you are a genuine creative problem solver you will stand out a mile.
9. Dare to think differently. You immediately stand out if you go contra common thought. Do your homework, know your field and then work out your own thoughts. Don’t automatically accept what everyone around you says. If you ask intelligent and well informed questions you will be noticed.
10. Benchmark against the global best in your field, do your research, find the best and actively follow them. Know the developments at the cutting edge; be on top of all the latest innovations, most people are not prepared to do this work, if you do you will have a unique advantage.
Look to the expert Oscar Wilde and remember his words;
“The only thing worse than being talked about is not being talked about.”
VERONICA CANNING firstname.lastname@example.org
Business mentor, personal brand strategist, author, speaker and presenter of the Stiletto Effect radio programme every Monday on Dublin City FM at 3.30