What is Personal Branding you ask again… well,personal branding in a bit more detail is managing how people perceive you. It isnot leaving it to others to make a decision about who they think you arewhich is usually based on limited or a random collection of information they may have.It is managing what you want them to think of you based on a true and full reflection of who you really are.
Hence, it is not just managing the hardware like your skill set and technical knowledge.It is also managing your software,which is predominantly overlooked,like style, attitude and presence.Both these elements work together to build your overall reputation based on a consistent story it tell.
Your brand story!
“But why do I need personal branding?”is usually the next in a string of questions I get asked.
We all have a personal brand whether we choose to consciously cultivate it or not.
People read cues about you constantly and everything that you do, consciously or unconsciously, lends to creating an overall image of you. The digital age not only exposes it to a larger audience, it blurs the lines between what is personal and professionalandalso allows others to define your brand. So you may as well curate and cultivate the real image of you. Investing time in a personal brand is not an option in today’s world. The choice lies more in the extent of curation that is relevant for you.
“Surely it is only relevant at work and I would like to keep my personal life personal”.
We have all seen devastating results of bad personal decisions impacting professional lives.
In addition we have all heardand (most of us) believe that success comes not only from what you know but who you know. I believe there is an additional third element – how people perceive you.
You may have the skills and know the right people, but if those people aren’t aware of your skills, achievements and contributions and how good you are at what you do, you aren’t likely to pop into their mind as a potential (candidate or recommendation) when a relevant opportunity comes along.
People trust those they know and like, and people need to trust you in order to consider you for a job orrecommend you, as their own personal brand is at stake. So it is no longer about separation but a conscious integration.
“But I don’t want to be treated like a product or commercial brand. It doesn’t feel authentic”, the push back continues.
While the idea is definitely one borrowed from commercial branding,where you develop a collection of imagesand associations with yourselfjust like companies with solid brand equities (like Apple, Coke or Tata for that matter), there is a major differences between personal branding and branding for a company or product.
Corporate brands add/change products regularly to suit new and ever evolving consumer needs and trends.In doing so they are seen to be a true consumer centric brand. However people aren’t credited with the same affection when they are inconsistent, change dramatically or too quickly. They are actually in turn perceived as unauthentic without a consistent personal brand image. Hence investing in building a consistent personal brand actually reflects a more authentic you.
“At most isn’t it more of an entrepreneurial thing?”
It’s important for entrepreneurs as they are putting their image at stake on their invention or idea. However it is equally important for corporate employees to land that next promotion or next role in another company. Companies hiring individuals also benefit from the equity that they bring as they are seen as the place that hires the best talent or a certain profile of people. Having a good personal brand puts you in a better position to negotiate.
“But isn’t it risky to do personal branding” the relentlessness non-believer persists.
There is definitely a risk in putting yourself out there and having what you do associated with you personally, both in terms of judgment of your work as well as actual liability.
Confidence (or lack of) is another barrierto personal branding. Simplyput, if you are not confident in yourself or your work and unsure of your core strengths, you will have a lot of trouble brandingyourself.
What it comes down to is having an authentic image of who you really are based on your core strengths and the image that you are improving yourself constantly. It’s about time that the old adage “we never stop learning”should be applied to learning about ourselves. We spend very little time really trying to understand ourselves, so it’s a little wonder why we are so afraid of branding ourselves because it usually has to start with learning more about who you are andI can not emphasize enough the importance of this “me skills” for our own future.
“So I just have to write some stuff up about myself right?” the tone turns slightly towards action.
Personal branding is not something that you invest an hour or two in and neverthink about again. It requires soul searching, attention and observation about yourself, reflection, visioning what you want to be and then tenacityto persevere because chances are you won’t get it perfect the first time.
Self-reflection often changes to how you want your personal and professionallives to be so it’s more reflective of the brand you want to beand your personal brand will go through several iterations before its refined into something that is truly reflective of you.
Fortunately, once you get into the habit of thinking about it becomes more second nature without having to consciously reminding yourself.
“So how does it really help me again?”… I think I am sold but there was a lot of information to digest so can you recap?
There are many reasons you should want to develop a personal brand.
A personal brand gives you a strong presence. A consistent image of who you are cues authenticity and give people assurance that they can trust you. It enables better work as well as personal relationships. People engage with those they can clearly understand, trust and associate with.
It was Abe Lincoln who said, “I don’t think much of a man who is not wiser today than he was yesterday.” I wouldn’t want Mr. L look upon me with distrust.
When your reputation precedes you (in a good way), it makes interactions with potential clients (if you are an entrepreneur, sales person, CEO ) or searching for that next job, that much easier, allowing you to spend less time convincing them to hire you, and more time negotiating the scope of services/role and payment. It puts you in a much stronger position in negotiations.
The more you refine your brand, the more targeted your message becomes and the more you will be
doing the work you want to do, with the people you want to be working with, and at a price
point that everyone can agree on and leading a life that you really want to.
Going through a Personal Branding process ensures you remain in control of who you are and where you’re headed, focusing your energy on what’s truly important for a fulfilling and sustainable life. So keep your future in your control and start building skills that you need towards it.
So now that you are totally sold on the idea of personal branding and can’t wait to start on your journey, stay tuned for the next episode where we talk a little about how we can make a start on personal branding
Note: This light hearted view of Personal Branding.Written by Roshni Pandey for Lexicon™ (Business and Brand Consulting) and FutureWise™ (http://www.futurewise.asia a Future Skills Acquisition Program)
Roshni has spent approx. 20 years delivering brand and business solutions, both as a consultant and as the head of various functions at 2 global MNCs. Leveraging insights, innovation she has been creating new products, defining new customer experiences, creating new brands & programs, leading brand strategy and delivering these into market for various global brands, across global markets and sectors such as hospitality, F&B, service, luxury and FMCG.
Her entrepreneurial passion has seen her collaborate with other start-ups as well as set up businesses of her own and she currently sits on the board of some of these. These includecompanies in the area of brand and business consulting, future skills acquisition, crowd funding, loyalty rewards and redemptionas well as a holding company which aids start-ups execute idea to scale. Having left her role as Head of Strategy Delivery at InterContinental Hotel Group in 2015, she is currently CEO/ Co-Founder of FutureWise, a company behind the design of a new future skills acquisition program.