Personal branding has been the core of my work since I launched my own business in 2005. But little did I know that long before that, I had a personal brand. I just wasn’t aware of it. I spent most of my early career working on large consumer brands with cool product lines like Levi Strauss & Co., Maybelline Cosmetics, and Lindeman’s Wines of Australia. I threw my heart and soul into building those iconic brands. All the while I was ignoring my own personal brand. Every time I changed jobs or companies, I felt like I had a new identify. I became the products and companies that I worked for. I had it all backwards.
Your personal brand is your own. It stays with you for your entire life. It doesn’t disappear when you lose your job or change positions. It goes with you. Of course, your personal brand will evolve and change with your experience and maturity. It is also influenced by your reputation and how others view you. But the most empowering part of personal branding is that you get to decide how you want to be known professionally. It is your responsibility to live up to that personal brand and to embody all of the values and integrity that you have designed into it. It is also your job to manage your brand intentionally and consistently. Never leave your personal brand to chance.
More than a Clever Slogan
Don’t mistake your personal brand for some clever tagline or slogan. That’s just window dressing. Finding your personal brand requires deep work including reflection and external feedback. You have to make choices and decisions. You can’t be everything to everybody. It’s not about pleasing others. It’s about being true to yourself.
More than Your Title
Many professionals link their titles to their brands. Being Vice President or CEO certainly carries some weight, but it is not sufficient to be a personal brand platform. Why? Because titles and positions are temporary. They change frequently. And let’s face it, there are a lot of Vice Presidents out there. You don’t want to commoditize yourself as just another VP. You are so much more than that.
Defining You is Your Job
Like other people, I have hired many copywriters, graphic designers, and marketing agencies to help me build my brand. Every time I work with a new group, they have a different interpretation of my brand. My brand has had many iterations over the years. But it wasn’t until I started to work closely with Mark LeBlanc, a business development coach, that I started to appreciate the strategic underpinnings of one’s personal brand. I was honored to be able to co-author a book with Mark and his business partner, Henry DeVries. We titled it Defining You: How Smart Professionals Craft the Answers to: Who Are You? What Do You Do? How Can You Help Me?
We all need the ability and confidence to be able to articulate the answers to the above questions. It is what our colleagues, clients, prospects, and hiring managers want and need to know. Mark says in the book:
“The way you communicate who you are and what you do will ultimately help you overcome the greatest single obstacle in the marketplace.” He goes on to say that “While you are faced with many obstacles, the inability to communicate effectively will result in a ripple effect of chaos and confusion you may never get a handle on.”
While that may sound like an exaggeration, from my personal and professional experience it’s true. We waste so much time and energy blabbing on about what we do and then expect other people to “get us.” It’s not their fault that they don’t “get us.” It’s ours. We just don’t have a good handle on our personal brands.
Just take a look at LinkedIn. You’ll find so many professionals that are ignoring their personal brands. It breaks my heart!
So this blog is dedicated to helping you get a handle on your personal brand.
- Will it be hard work? Yes.
- Is it worth is? Definitely.
- Will you need some help? Most likely.
- When do you need to start? Right now.
- Will you enjoy the process? Oh yeah!
Video Resources to Get You Headed it the Right Direction
I was honored to be invited to be a guest on the podcast, the Brandon Smith Show. I met Brandon at a recent conference. He is known as the Workplace Therapist. He believes that your job should not have to suck, and that life doesn’t have to be this hard. That we deserve better. That’s why he focuses his work on eliminating workplace dysfunction. When every workplace is healthy, productive, fulfilling, and dysfunction-free with only great leaders and honorable managers guiding the ship, then he’ll hang up his hat. But until then, he has work to do. He’ll continue to give it his all with his podcast, training programs, consulting services, and keynote speaking. I’m proud to call him my colleague. Watch a few minutes of our podcast interview. I just love his snazzy opening music!
Another resource that I want to share with you in this blog is this video of a TED-like talk I gave at the Indie Friends and Family Forum in La Jollla, California this past March. This conference is designed for independent consultants, authors and speakers who want to build their business by leveraging their thought-leadership through books and speeches. It was the first time that I gave a public talk about my latest book, Defining You. In this 10-minute video, I share two stories from the book of highly credentialed professionals who were motivated to craft and hone their personal brands in order to realize new opportunities. Please enjoy the video and let me know what you think by leaving a comment on my YouTube Channel.
Are You Ready to Take Charge of Your Personal Brand?
I would recommend that you purchase and read a copy of Defining You.
Here’s a recent review of the book on Google Books. The reader happens to be my friend and favorite photographer Matthew J. Wagner. He loved the book so much that he also sent me a photo of himself enjoying the book. Now that made me smile!
“I just got this book in the mail yesterday and I’ve already highlighted and underlined most of Part 1. This is exactly what I need to take my business to the next level. I’ve often been intimidated by long books that take too long to get to the point. This book cuts to the chase and tells me what I need to know and do to grow as a professional. Thanks, authors, for this amazing tool for personal development and success.”
~ Matthew J. Wagner, owner of MJW Fine Photography