When discussing the concept of Personal Branding, I often get questions like these:
I don’t plan on doing a TED Talk, writing a book, or promoting myself on social media, so tell me why I’d need a brand strategy? Isn’t there a certain “ick” factor to those who shamelessly self-promote themselves?
My first answer is that since most of us have a digital footprint, we owe it to ourselves to be more intentional about what messages and images are out there. We also have a brand beyond the Internet and it’s about how we interact with people in-person. Our actions send a message about who we are, what we care about, and how we bring ourselves to the world every day. (Side Note: If you’re not on social media and are doing business, why not? This is limiting your ability to grow as a leader and change agent.)
Here are a few examples of how we can unintentionally be shaping our brand in an adverse way.
- Joe the sales guy is consistently late to meetings. Whether he likes it or not, he is getting the reputation as “the late guy.” and his actions send unintentional messages, such as “I don’t respect your time, or you as a person.” This reputation is becoming cemented in his brand as he builds his network.
- Susan the up-and-coming marketing director at a national non-profit is lobbying for a promotion and she does a great job, but she has not taken the time to cultivate a professional social media presence, using her personal social media accounts to post cute pet photos. She gets overlooked for an external candidate who has hundreds of social media followers and is a sought-after speaker at professional conferences and events.
Think of everything you do and write as a page in your portfolio – people synthesize these messages and form conscious and unconscious opinions about you.
Just like anything else in life, if we don’t consciously craft a strategy to reach our goals, we may or may not achieve them, and definitely not as fast as if we had developed a strategy.
If everything that I just shared still leaves you wondering if you need to develop a personal brand strategy, answer these five questions for yourself:
1) Make, write or sell anything online or in-person? If you plan on putting yourself out there online for any kind of business transaction, you need to think about your brand.
2) Use social media and/or blog?
3) Have an outward-facing role at your company, or plan to in the future?
4) Expect a raise or promotion in your future?
5) Volunteer for a non-profit, or advocate in your city or community?
If you answered yes to one or more of these questions, it’s worth taking a look at your brand for the coming year!