Personal Brand – do I really have to?
I am nearly 50 and to be perfectly honest, it was only 18 months ago I had little interest or respect for the term ‘personal brand’. Maybe I am just a late bloomer, but frankly, I thought, “Here is another corporate professional development fad.” Let’s face it, the professional development industry is like any other, constantly changing and reinventing itself to try and please a fickle, short-term market. It’s constantly wheeling out your grandmother in a brand new dress with a face lift. Underneath it’s still little old Granny. “Hey, I recognise you, weren’t you at my bar mitzvah? You look great. In fact, yikes, you’re my Granny”.
My To Do will never be a To Done at this rate.
In this post there are 3 key questions I answer
- What is a personal brand?
- Why should you get a personal brand?
- How do you develop a personal brand?
What is a personal brand?
G’day from the Best Practice Manager – Peter McKelvie this week in Australia. That’s my Blog name and my brand, but I think a personal brand has much more depth than a title, or a web presence.
Glenn Llopis says that Personal Brand is about telling others what experience to expect when having a professional relationship with you. I like it. I hope people who work with me know what to expect from me.
Ask yourself the following questions from the Forbes article What’s Your Personal Brand? I think you will get a good sense of what a personal brand is.
“When people hear your name, do they immediately think of certain qualities that you have? Do colleagues, friends and family know what they can count on from you? Does your reputation extend beyond those who know you personally – and if so, what do they think about you?” Forbes – What’s your Personal Brand?
Whether we like it or not, we all have a personal brand. For some people they are conscious of and managing that brand, for others, and maybe this is you, you don’t even know you have a brand, but here’s the news: you do. What do people say when they see you? “Hey, isn’t that the guy who stands for nothing? No idea what his name is, but a great guy, I am sure.”?
Why you should get a personal brand?
Over the last 18 months I have come to realise the importance of, and value in a personal brand. It really is about what you stand for and what you’re passionate about. I fell over my personal brand like a skateboard in the hallway. One minute I am foolishly minding my own business, wandering along aimlessly. Next minute I am skating full tilt down the hallway, careening toward open doors where previously there were walls, adrenalin pumping. What a wake-up call. What have I been sitting on all these years, other than my hands I guess?
I have always enjoyed making the odd speech, spending a little time on stage at school – was relatively comfortable with public speaking. I have always been passionate about people management and in particular the professional and personal development of younger staff, but all staff of course. So over time I put my hand up and took on delivery of some training and did a few presentations in amongst my normal management duties. Then I began to regularly MC school events, dinner dances etc. at my daughters’ school. During this time I was asked to MC our town hall meeting at work. That meeting was a huge success for me and a career high, receiving volumes of positive feedback. About the same time I decided I wanted to write about this thing called Employee Engagement, that was being surveyed and spoken about and used to set and influence directions and strategies. What was important in all this was that I love to write and I firmly believed in the value of Employee Engagement, and that was a good combination. I had great support from friends and colleagues and when I needed it I wasn’t afraid to ask for it. And just like that, my brand was launched and I became associated with a certain experience, a certain knowledge, a certain influence.
Now I understand what my brand is and who I am at work more clearly than ever before in my career. I am working hard to build my brand and deliver the experience that is expected. And what’s more, I know I am adding value. Having a personal brand or the makings of a personal brand gives you direction and clarity, it allows you to develop personal strategies and visions, it gives you purpose and a degree of certainty over the value you add.
Bryan Del Monte said in his article The improbable success of Rick Gervais
“You want to be famous, adored, and a force to be reckoned with, you have two tasks: 1) find your niche (in both content and channel), and then be fearless in being nakedly different in it.”
I think this is a terrific quote and piece of advice. The more you invest in a personal brand, then the more you have to be sure you have found your niche, not a niche, and the more you’re going to have to get naked (emotionally, that is …). Believe me – if you want to be believable and for people to believe you believe in what you say you believe in, then stake your claim on something you are genuinely passionate about and be prepared to mount your soapbox.
Once you have determined what you are passionate about and believe in, then you need to figure out what you are doing to demonstrate or promote that belief, how you are making yourself a go-to person or a person of influence and how you can add value. It’s marvelous knowing you’re a thought leader, but if no one else does, then you’re adding no value to yourself, your colleagues or your organisation.
You might be saying right now, “I’m only young and I don’t need to worry about this stuff for a while yet,” but that’s not the case. What purpose does it serve to avoid focussing your role in an area you enjoy and are passionate about? You don’t ever have to worry about it if you don’t want to, but I can assure you, it’s a missed opportunity.
How do you develop a personal brand?
Let me stress, personal brand is not about how many thousand hits you get on your favourite social media platform, it really isn’t, or that whacky photo you have on facebook showing what a party favourite you are. Personal brand is a reflection of your authentic self. For many of us we don’t have to go out and get a personal brand, we just have to work out what it already is. What is the experience that people have when they work with you, network with you, hear about you? Then focus on it and promote it.
Ask yourself some key questions to prompt some thoughts then note down your answers.
- What am I passionate about and engaged in?
- Why do people want to work with me and what’s in it for them?
- When they do work with me, how do I make them feel? Do I amuse them, inspire them, amaze them, or make them feel confident and secure?
- How would my friends and colleagues describe me, what words would they use? Am I That Engagement Guy, the go-to person for all things people management, or – in my daughter’s case when she was at school – That Violin Girl (although she played viola).
- How would I describe myself and my work?
- Who do I really care about and who am I passionate about serving, supporting?
- What makes me an individual? How do I differentiate myself?
Use these questions to reach some clarity and scope out your personal brand. Believe me, it is worth the time and effort. It doesn’t mean you storming onto the scene as the next big thing, the next big block buster, but it does allow you to align your passion with your presence and to be recognised for that.
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Many thanks to my nephew James Westmore for his wonderful artwork and to Rosie Broadfoot for her continued enthusiasm for editing my posts – Rosie is that Grammar Girl.