In the age of digital technology and social media there is nowhere to hide. Whether you like it or not your personal brand is out there. Need convincing? Google yourself, what does your online presence say about you?
Those of you who are unseasoned with the finer points of personal branding may be surprised with the plethora of information that appears when you read your Google search results. From social media chats to Twitter rants and the range of images you have uploaded; all congeal to form a canvas of your personal and professional life.
If you were to ask a total stranger to form an opinion about you and what you represent based on this information, don’t assume you’d know their response. You may be surprised with the disconnect between who you think you are and what you want to be known for, and what people actually think about you (based on their feedback).
What’s so important about a personal brand?
Your personal brand is essentially your reputation; what other people think about who you are, and the impact you have on them. Employers, potential customers, new acquaintances and even prospective love interests seeking to find out more about you and what you represent will increasingly start their search via the Internet – so its essential to understand the impact you can have negatively or positively, depending on how you understand and nurture your brand.
Why does my personal brand need to be authentic?
“Be the real you because everyone else is taken and replicas don’t sell for as much.”
It’s hard work trying to be something you’re not, and over time you will only slip up in the process. The media is filled with unauthentic brands of celebrities and companies whose image and reputation have been blown apart through scandals, slip ups, or public meltdowns. Traditional branding has a focus on personal marketing, image building, selling, packaging, outward appearances, and self-promotion. This is often perceived as egocentric and selfish.
An authentic personal brand reflects your true character. It is built on your dreams, purpose, values, uniqueness, genius, passion, specialisation, characteristics, and favourite activities. It is your calling card—your unique promise of value. An interesting example is the 2015 Labour Party leadership election campaign. Jeremy Corbyn v three seemingly ‘Stepford Wives’ career politicians. The three other candidates lacked passion, vision and a sense of any personality, which equalled zero creditability. While Corbyn the ‘marmite’ candidate, campaigned with authenticity and galvanised a swathe of society previously disenfranchised with politics.
Are you convinced on the necessity of nurturing your authentic personal brand? The following exercises will set you on the right path to defining, or refining your authentic brand.
Start Thinking of Yourself as a Brand
What do you want people to associate with you when they think of your name? In what area or subject do you want to be perceived as an expert? What personal qualities do you want linked to your brand? Now begin to define your personal brand. Ensure it’s authentic and reflects what is uniquely you with a clear nod to your goals and aspirations.
Clarify your Brand – answer the following questions:
- What is your brand?
- Do people understand it?
- DO YOU UNDERSTAND IT?
- What makes you unique?
- What are your strengths?
- What do you want to be known for?
- What is your personal or business vision?
- And why is it important to you?
Harness your Vision
Imagine you are a guest at your own funeral, where your friends, family, colleagues and acquaintances have gathered to mourn and celebrate your life. What would you want to hear them say about you? What kind of character did you have? What did you achieve? What was unique about you? What kind of friend, brother, sister, mother, colleague were you? Did you live to your values? Did you achieve your vision for your life? What legacy did you leave those who shared various aspects of your life with you? (Adapted from Stephen Covey – 7 Habits) . Reflect on what you have learned from these exercises.
Clean up and Nurture your Online Presence
Be truly authentic – produce good content on social media. And when you tell your story, stay true to who you are and what you believe in. Check your privacy settings to and make sure all the information you post is aligned with your personal brand and available to your target audience.
Work out your Impact
Need a little help from your friends? Use this 360 degree feedback exercise to find out your current impact on others. http://www.suzannesimmonslewis.com/2015/09/25/discover-ustrengths-purpose-career/
Professional coach, Suzanne Simmons-Lewis helps her clients clarify and achieve their true purpose and ambitions in their careers and businesses, drawing out their unique talents. She inspires, supports and challenges clients in their journey to making their long-held dreams an exciting reality. E:firstname.lastname@example.org