A post on LinkedIn caught my attention recently. It is a quote from motivational speaker and entrepreneur Jay Danzie that reads:
“Your smile is your logo,
your personality is your business card,
how you leave others feeling after having an experience with you becomes your trademark.”
It all adds up to your personal brand. People associate you with certain perceptions, feelings and expectations based on your interactions. Think about the items you purchase, the particular organizations you belong to or the specific causes you support. They are brands that resonate with you, continuously building brand loyalty and equity in the center of your mind. The same is true with people, and just like organizations, your actions throughout your journey together will reinforce, or change, your brand.
According to Inc., personal branding is becoming more important because today’s audiences trust people over organizations. Whether you are trying to elevate your position along your current career path or reinvent yourself to pursue a different path, having a strong identity is key to becoming the thought leader and social influencer you aspire to be.
Be Yourself, Not a Persona.
Know who you are and what is important to you. Define for yourself what your core values are. Understand what you are passionate about and what drives you. Then, communicate that to the world and present your authentic self. While celebrities may have stage names and alter egos, to be successful in business you need to be true to yourself. Trying to be someone else will not work in the long-term.
Put Yourself Out There.
Now that you have defined your personal brand, promote it. Do you have a website? How about a blog? Do you use social media? One or all of these can help you position yourself as an expert. It is where you share your ideas and knowledge relative to your area of expertise. Social media then amplifies that by enabling you to network. You have to build and cultivate your influence by posting regularly and engaging in the bigger conversation.
Moving online to offline, seek speaking opportunities. Look for industry networking and professional development events where you can tell your story and share case studies. This also enables your brand to become more human, by literally putting a face to a name.
Perception is Reality.
Remembering this is the key to ensuring that the face of your personal brand is what people are actually seeing. Keep up with your social media. Review and respond to comments. Are they in line with the points you are trying to make, or do you find you have to explain yourself? What are others saying about you? Are you getting followers? Google yourself regularly to see what comes up and if it portrays the brand you think you are presenting. Continue to monitor and adjust as necessary to ensure the personal brand you defined is the one being delivered.
Be a Lifelong Learner.
You may be a subject matter expert today, but things are changing rapidly. To stay on top of your game and remain relevant, you have to know and understand how your industry is evolving. Addressing those changes, sharing your learning experiences—successes and failures—advances you as an authority, an agent of change and an advisor sought out by many. You have to take risks to reap rewards.
Whether you work for you or someone else, how you present yourself, the initial impression you make and ultimately the promises you keep, all verify or nullify the personal brand you present to the world. It is not enough to say who you are, you have to demonstrate it consistently through actions and expertise that elevate your presence in the marketplace. And like everything around you, you need to evolve in order to stay relevant.
So have you asked yourself yet, what is your personal brand?