Building your personal brand


When you hear names like Beyoncé or Barak Obama or Miley Cyrus chances are there is an image associated with that name that pops in your mind.  Whether good or bad this image represents the brand of their persona and can be used to make millions or lose millions depending on how others see that brand.  The image of you may not yet be worth millions but the fact is, big or small, the image that represents how others see you makes up your own personal brand.  The reality is that what people think of you impacts how people treat you.  Now personally this may not bother you or impact your life at all, but professionally what people think of you can have a major impact on your jobs, clients, and income.

Building your personal brand involves taking a look at who you believe you are and relating it back to how others see you.  Through the process you can learn how to cultivate the image you project to be an honest reflection of what others can expect you to deliver in their business interactions with you.  There are some ways you can help hone this impression to get the impact you want in what defines the brand of you.

Think of the image you want to project of how others see you – I always like to figure out a difficult maze by starting at the end as it gives you an idea of the bigger picture.  Take some time to imagine how you want others to feel and what they think of when your name comes up.  Maybe it is an image of grace and style or compassion or concern.  Having an image in mind to work towards acts not only as a guiding light on where you are going but also as inspiration when the path becomes murky.

Backtrack and do an assessment of who you think you are now – Once X marks the spot of where you want to be you have to get your bearings on where you are.  As a professional you may want your brand to depict strength and conviction, but you know internally you have problems making decisions.  The difference between who you are and the brand you want to build may have a disconnect.  Your brand is a depiction of yourself that speaks even without direct contact.  As people get to know you personally, however, you only stand to hurt yourself if you cannot back up the brand you are trying to promote with the person you are.  Be honest on where you are in your own development, accentuating the positives and committing to work on the negatives before someone points them out and defines you with them before you do.

Ask people you trust and respect around you for their opinion – Two heads are always better than one when it comes to perspective.  The view from the inside is usually drastically different than the view from the outside as no one lives in your mind but you.  Having a dialogue with those who see you and have a personal connection can let you see the places where what you see you how you want to be seen and where the perspective of this image deviates.  Brand management is not successfully done eyes wide shut so others opinions help to fill in the gaps of what you can’t see and allow you the support to work on areas that need development.

Become aware of the way you treat people – A mentor once told me the key to making a sale is for the customer to both trust and like the sales person.  The way you treat people speaks directly to if they like you.  Disliking someone naturally makes you more keen to areas where they are not perfect and believe me there will be lots of imperfections in even the best brands.  Once someone dislikes you then you have to work twice as hard to overcome this feeling or bank on the dislike being the selling point of your brand (think of Donald Trump).  You don’t have to be the sugar plum fairy to be likable but being yourself and cordial to all is usually a good place to start.

Make sure your actions support honestly the brand you are trying to create – The component of trust is probably the most important as people have to believe you are the brand you are promoting in order for it to be successful.  Because of this your actions have to work on the path towards your overall brand so that each component builds on the other in creating and delivering the image.  Once you prove inconsistent you quickly lose the trust of others.  Once the trust is lost it is ten times harder to regain and even then your message is often diluted.  In brand management consistency is usually the best policy.

Put in the energy to creating a plan and then work that plan – Putting in the time to see where you are, where you want to be in building a brand all mean nothing if you do not walk that path.  This is where the real work comes in as you must absorb the overall image of your brand completely if you expect your actions to be a reflection of it.  Putting in the work and time to develop images and mantras of your overall image serve not only as an external promotion but as an internal reminder of what you are creating and the steps it takes to get there.

Creating your own brand is perfectly doable and gives people a quick reference of whom you are and why working with you benefits them.  Once done you have a great way to relay information quickly and when done honestly have a community of friends and colleges there to support it to expand your network.


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