It seems like yesterday that I was an awkward teen seeking the approval of my peers and worried about their chatter and impressions. I found quickly that to succeed in life you do need that measure of approval but as I’ve aged, I realize that I’m far more interested in finding a group of people I enjoy with the same values and interests as me. That includes friends and customers.
Over time, I’ve realized that new acquaintances that become cherished friends are those that saw something in me that they resonated and aligned with. The ones I feel safe and secure with, both in business and personally, are kindred spirits who know and understand what’s important to me and I them. But, for this magic to happen, they have to actually see who I am through my personal brand, the reflection of my authentic me.
Do you know the difference between your personal brand and your product brand? As I lead different workshops, I’m noticing that somehow this has all gotten gummed up together but, they are two very distinct things.
Personal branding has become far more important than product branding in this day and age of homogenous industries. If price, quality and expertise are the same between products and services, the only thing that will truly set you apart is your personal brand. So, what is it exactly?
Your personal brand is made up of many things such as your strengths, passions, values, and sense of purpose. It’s your reputation, whether you have the ability to influence others, the work or cause you are known for, and how people experience you. As Maya Angelou put it, “I've learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”
It is a natural instinct to form an immediate impression of people and situations based on our own experiences, an assumption which may or may not be correct. Whether we like it or not, my impression, combined with those of other people, equal the personal brand of an individual. Even nameless faces that we pass on the street, see at restaurants, at the office or at a party may convey an unscripted message just by the way they dress or carry themselves. MORE
You can’t always do something about snap impressions, but you can begin to build a personal brand through your online presence and personal interactions with people. Be conscious of how you represent yourself all day, every day. If you don’t brand yourself first, someone else will. There is very little difference, thanks to social media, between the “work” you and the “real” you. Everyone sees and believes they know what appears to be the full package and sum total of you.
In this day and age, our customers, employees and investors are demanding that each of us leave a positive imprint on the world. One of the best ways to set yourself apart is to incorporate your social giveback to your community as part of your business. It shows your stakeholders what you value and that you care. And, I don’t mean writing a check to a local non-profit because that tells me nothing about you personally. I mean finding a cause that you believe in and can get involved with.
Your efforts will lead you to a whole new tribe of people, and possible customers that are bonded with you, aligned with you on the same mission. If you are a horsewoman on the board of an equine therapy non-profit, you will meet others within that space that will automatically think of you with respect and admiration when they need your services. If you are a banker, you may find that teaching classes to college bound teens about managing their finances may bring in a whole new set of parents that are grateful for your assistance.
With careers often becoming more project based and less linear, we each need to be able to distinguish ourselves in an authentic and unique way from others vying for similar opportunities. Everyone has a story, communicate yours. Let people know who you are by sharing your experiences and the things that are important to you. Show these values to others in your social media profiles, on your website “About Us” section, on boards, in a blog or in an article on Linked In. Let people know the authentic you, what sets you apart, and why you are unique.
There is no better time than TODAY to realize that you have a personal brand and need to start managing it with the same enthusiasm that you manage your product brand. The process is no different than the path a business would take to determine how their products or services sit with their customer base or how a human resource department ensures their employer brand is resonating with potential recruits. It’s time to start assessing yours. Who is Brand YOU?
Copyright © 2018
Linda Lattimore – all rights reserved