Guest blogger: Clare J. Hefferren
President, Callosum Creative
Your resume may get you in the door. Once inside, what will keep you there? How will you stand out from your competitors? How long will you be remembered? Two minutes? Two days? Two months? Two years? It can take years to develop a business relationship. How well do your communication, or soft skills, make you stand out? An effective communicator is consistent, polished, and memorable in the areas of leadership, presence (body language), wardrobe/grooming, speaking, and etiquette.
Simply put, your personal brand is your reputation. We are all born with one. The question is, “Is it working for or against you?” A personal brand is a collection of your attributes – skills, knowledge, and character. It is a sum of personality, perception, and promotion.
The goal of personal branding is to align who you are with what you do. When you align these you create a magnetic draw that brings opportunities and people to you. You will be recognized and remembered far beyond a first impression. A personal brand is an evolution. As you change, your brand should change with you.
Who are you when you show up in a face-to-face conversation? Does the same “you” show up everywhere or are you a chameleon based on the setting and audience?
Ask yourself: How does the world perceive me? What is my reputation?
Working on your personal brand can be very unsettling. You may struggle with “If I change, I’m not going to be myself.” You may know you need to change, but how far do you go? Unfortunately at times we’re stuck in habits and patterns. If what you’re doing today is not serving your reputation, then something needs to shift. It takes concerted effort to make this shift. A new habit takes 30 days to stick. At best, it takes six months to build and ease into a conscious personal brand. It will feel like you’re being pushed out of the comfort zone. That’s a necessity to get to the other side and see results.
There is a common misconception that modifying your personal branding is “fixing.” In truth it is enhancing and strengthening your toolbox so you are perceived as authentic, current, passionate, and engaged in your life. We invest in our homes (mortgage), our education (school loans), and our cars. How often do you invest in your greatest asset – yourself?
Ask yourself: Who are you outside of the workplace?
Many people believe they are defined by their work role. Wrapping your identity around a job is a dangerous place to be, for when or if the time comes that you are unemployed, you’ll feel lost. This will affect your mindset, body language, and voice. In transition, it’s understandable to struggle and have a difficult time owning your personal brand. This is the time to look for the part of you that is happy, and highlight it so the perceived flaws are less noticeable.
You are not defined by your role. Determine who you are outside of work so you are excited to learn who others are regardless of where they work. The human relationship comes first. You will have much more valuable conversations if you connect on a human level before talking business.
Creating a personal brand. Begin analyzing your personal brand by walking through the funnel process. Journal answers to each question.
After you have drafted your personal brand funnel, ask personal family/friends and professional colleagues how they view you. Let them know you trust their opinion and genuinely want to know how they perceive you. Ask them for feedback in the areas of:
• Wardrobe / grooming
While you await external feedback, ask yourself the same questions and jot them down for reference. When feedback is received, compare your assessment with the external assessments. Are they aligned or ajar?
Ask yourself: What areas can I improve upon?
Choose one area to focus on and create a 30-day new habit. Examples include: Choosing a strategic standing position when in a networking environment; wearing a wardrobe icebreaker per outfit; increasing your tonality in speech. Choose an accountability partner to increase your odds of success.
While you work on your new habit, observe those around you. Whom do you remember? What sticks out for you? Whom would you compliment? Who offends you? If you can see it in others, you can see it in yourself and you can begin to take action on your own personal brand. Be willing to “push” outside your comfort zone.
If you’d like to talk to me about this article, or consider a self-assessment, you may reach me at firstname.lastname@example.org.