Having delivered a series of workshops on personal brand recently, I’ve been struck by how few people understand what a personal brand is, nor think it’s relevant to them.
Personal brand is a combination of reputation, influence, opinion, appearance, communication, feeling, instinct and attitude, tucked neatly away beside your personality. It’s what people think when they hear your name.
Regardless of where you are in your career, understanding your personal brand is vital. Maybe you’re in a senior role and looking for a new opportunity. Perhaps you head up a company and want to bring in new business. Or maybe you’re new in the workforce and want to counteract the first impression people have made of you: that you’re the junior-starting-out-person.
This five-point exercise will help you see the power of personal branding. The initial steps will take you 10 minutes, plus time spent talking to someone you trust.
I can’t tell you how to make your brand great, but I can help you work out how to make it great. You have control of your personal brand. You can decide how you would like people to think of you and then work on being that.
1. Write down five to 10 things you think other people think about you when they hear your name.
These may be related to your personality, your appearance or your reputation. Be honest, even if the words you come up with are negative.
2. Write down five to 10 things that you want people to think when they hear your name.
When you write this list, make it in the context of thinking about what you want to do in your future. If you want people to think of you as a leader, then being a leader is something to put on your list. Or perhaps you will choose from examples such as ‘responsive’, ‘charming’, ‘courageous’, ‘honest’, ‘calm’, ‘exciting’ or ‘genuine’.
3. Compare the variation between your two lists. Ask people you trust, whose opinions you value what they think of your answers to both questions.
Trusted friends, colleagues or confidantes could be good people to turn to, although remember that friends don’t often know you in the workplace.
4. Having carried out these exercises, now pull together five to 10 words that define your brand.
This is the blueprint for your brand position.
5. Apply those words across your presentation, communications, actions and in your online and hard copy collateral.
If your LinkedIn image is a picture of you drinking champagne at a party or if half your face is cut off to look creative, think about whether that is right for your personal brand. If your image is a formal and characterless corny ‘American yearbook’ picture, consider what that is saying about you.
Find great words to consistently communicate what you want people to think of you. One of our clients – a musical production business – signs off their emails with words including ‘later’, ‘louder’ and ‘check ya’. It’s funky and it’s on brand for their business.
This is the level of detail you need to be working at.
Once you have identified the words that define your personal brand, you won’t need to write them down on a card to be reminded of what they are. These are things you should know about yourself.
And keep your personal brand fresh. When you’ve done this exercise, rethink it once a year.
This article first appeared at Women’s Agenda.