Last night 43 women and 1 man gathered at the Trumbull Kitchen in downtown Hartford CT to discuss the topic of personal branding – what is it, why is it important and how to develop and leverage yours.
The event was hosted by an amazing woman by the name of Tricia Brunton who founded The Females’ Center of Excellence and Leadership, Inc. (Xcel) in 2002 when she was a student at Northeastern University. A full time employee for Hamilton Sunstrand (a UTC company) with an expertise in all things financial, Tricia makes time to operate this non-profit organization to help women and girls grow, develop and excel in their career and lives.
Tricia is particularly passionate about mentoring. She has a Mentoring Program that unites female professionals and students based on any career and educational path. The aim of the Mentoring Program is to provide female students (mentees) with support that will assist them to achieve their educational and professional goals. Mentors also have an opportunity to get involved in the community and mold the leaders of tomorrow.
Tricia had invited me and image consultant Mallory Mason to be the panelists and to provide our insights and professional advice on personal branding. Mallory and I had worked together professionally on a new venture called Power Up Your Professional Image – an event based company that helps career-minded women get a stronger edge in the workplace and marketplace by polishing their image and confidence and building their skills and network.
Some of the questions that Tricia asked us included:
- What is a personal brand and how to you create one?
- What is the best way to identify your personal brand?
- How do you define yourself to a potential employer or client?
- As an employee, should I represent myself or my company?
- how do I share my personal story without being too personal?
- What is the best way to personify my ideals/values?
- Does my dream job help with defining my personal brand?
What ensued was 60-minutes of lively interaction with the audience on the topic of personal branding and other aspects of career and image management. Below are some of the golden nuggets of wisdom and advice on the topic:
8 Great Ideas to Help Develop Your Personal Brand
1. A personal brand is what distinguishes you from others. It is an ownable position that you hold in someone else’s mind and heart. It’s your reputation at work even when you are not there.
2. The process of personal branding is one of deliberate marketing of you by you. You strategically decide how you want to be positioned and actively and consistently project, communicate and demonstrate that brand in everything you do and say. You must take action and invest in you in order to build equity in your personal brand over time.
3. You already have a personal brand. When you were born, they gave you a name. That was the first act of personal branding. But your personal brand needs to be more than just a name; it needs to have meaning and equity. It’s time to take charge of your personal brand. You must start first by discovering it. You can do this by examining the personal attributes and skills that innately yours. You must recognize and respect those unique qualities and strengths in you. Then you must figure out how you can put those into play for greater career success and happiness. Your personal brand is greater than “what you do for a living.” In fact, it may have more to do with HOW you do what you do and what values and attributes you hold dear.
4. External feedback is also useful in discovering your personal brand. Interview people who know you well and ask them how they would describe you to others. What words or attributes would they or do they use when describing you to others who do not know you yet. You can also ask them the ultimate 2-part question that I have used with great success. That is: “What VALUE did I create for you?” and “What’s so great about that?” Now listen carefully. They may just reveal your personal brand to you. (p.s. this is how I discovered my personal brand as the Marketing Motivator)
5. Conformity is out; Distinction is in. When creating your personal brand, don’t try to be like everyone else or copy someone else’s personal brand (even if you greatly admire it). You must strive to showcase your own uniqueness and have the faith that over time it will build and be recognized and valued by others.
6. You must look the part. Visual impact is a critical component to fulfilling your personal brand promise. People size up people within seconds and make instant judgments and assessments. Make sure that your personal appearance, posture, grooming and anything else that they can “see” says what you want it to say about your personal brand. You must be consistent in projecting your personal brand. If you need help here, contact Mallory Mason at (860) 748-9163. Ask about her closet audit service – it’s a great way to figure out what works for you within your existing wardrobe.
7. The more authentic, the better. They call it a personal brand because it is yours – it is YOU. It’s very personal. If you can strive to design your personal brand to be a close to the way you really are, the stronger your personal brand will be. While we may admire certain celebrities or business leaders or lust after the cool iconic brands like Apple, we can’t all be that. It’s not authentic to us. Your values, your personality, your natural gifts and strengths, your abilities – these are the underpinnings of YOUR personal brand. As William Shakespeare once said “To thine own self be true.”
8. Express your personal brand at every touch point. Once you have identified and decided on your personal brand, you now can express it. Everything thing you do or say, your communication and actions all should embody your desired personal brand. Your Linkedin.com profile should reflect your personal brand statement. The things you tweet about or post on your Facebook page should reflect, honor and uphold your personal brand (be careful here. You must manage your on-line persona. Read the article I wrote on this topic). You can express your personal brand in the way you write your emails, your voice mail messages, in the presentations you give, in the way you dress. Be more conscious of what you do and make sure it aligns with the personal brand you are trying to establish for yourself.
Resources to help you establish your personal brand
- Rahna Barthlemess – the personal branding guru. I highly recommend Rahna and her Signature for Success program. I co-taught this workshop with Rahna at a corporation last year. Personal branding is a very timely topic for on-going professional development for corporate employees and professionals. Visit Rahna’s web site called Signature for Success. Sign up for her free e-newsletter on personal branding.
- Mallory Mason Image Management. Make a wise investment in your professional image and personal brand by engaging Mallory or a certified image management consultant in your area to help you with your visual impact. It’s your career; it’s your personal brand – manage it!
- Power Up Your Professional Image is available to companies to sponsor check out our workshop agenda.
- Xcel – the Females’ Center of Excellence and Leadership non-profit organization offers a wide range of career and professional development programs for women and girls. Check out their monthly networking events. Next one is August 24, 2010 in Hartford, CT with a panel discussion on Owning Your Career. the event is free, but space is limited. Register early to ensure your spot.
- America’s Marketing Motivator Kathy McAfee is available for hire as a keynote speaker or workshop training instructor. Check out the range of topics available or call me at (860) 408-0033 to discuss your specific needs. Telephone consultations and tele-coaching is also available to close the distance gap and still get you what you need!