I came across a fable recently that seemed to resonate. It goes like this; According…
Your words, presentation, and behaviour always reveal something about your core values, passions and achievements. As a result, people will often make snap judgments about you, meaning it’s not only important to make a good first impression but to be consistent in your approach. These qualities are what managers look at when assessing candidates for promotion or hiring new team members, they are what people reflect on when deciding whether to do business with you and they determine your social connections. Whether you’re in business for yourself or you are employed, your personal brand can be a real asset.
So How do you Create Your Personal Brand?
Be aware – Remember that your brand is you and you are always representing the brand. Be consistent in how you present yourself in the workplace, how you communicate day-to-day with colleagues and how you act outside of the workplace. Look at people with strong branding within your community and look closely at how they represent that brand (themselves). Good branding involves consistency so you need to be clear about what you can deliver…
Authenticity is best – Be clear on who you are, what your values are and what you stand for as a person, then develop a brand around these aspects of yourself; Being true to yourself is the most effective way of creating consistency within your brand. There is no point in your brand representing one thing while you are doing another. Take some time to list all of the things that are important to you (your values) and then establish a strong top five. It might be that you value reliability or it could be that you value being creative, or calm or a hard worker or a straight talker… your values are yours alone so be honest with yourself and don’t adopt values that you think you ‘should’ represent.
Personal appearance matters – so dress appropriately for your business, which may vary between cultures and organisations. If your environment differs from your branding, then observe those around you and find a way to fit in and create a connection, while still maintaining your personal branding. If your branding is conservative and your work environment is super casual then find a way to be casually conservative. Please bear in mind that as much as we think our modern culture is accepting, scruffy hair, unkempt clothing, and a lack of attention to personal cleanliness simply will not get you across the line!
Develop your emotional intelligence – EI is our ability to be aware of our emotions, to understand why we are feeling a certain way and then to choose how we express and manage those emotions; both in ourselves and in others. EI is about ‘being smart with feelings’. The World Economic Forum has listed EI as number 6 in the top ten skills required by 2020. EI is more than twice as predictive of business performance than purely cognitive intelligence, and is more predictive of business performance than skill, knowledge, and expertise.* (Harvard Business Review, “Breakthrough ideas for tomorrow’s business agenda”, April 2003).
Understand the power in listening well to others and in recognising and understanding their emotional responses, as well as your own, so that you can use that knowledge to enhance your working relationships, productivity, and performance.
Show up – I don’t just mean physically (although that is vital in building trust) but also as a person. Express your thoughts clearly but respectfully so people understand what you stand for as a person. When you are clear about your personal brand and that reflects your values and beliefs (authenticity) then you should find yourself with more clarity when making decisions. Your ability to make intelligent, timely decisions that take other people’s needs into account will likely get you noticed for the right reasons.
Establish Trust – If people see consistency in who you are and what you say and do, then you will establish Trust, which is the foundation of all strong relationships. Brene Brown professor, researcher and best-selling author says that “Trust is built in the smallest of moments” so be mindful of the fact as you go about your work and ask yourself “Is this behaviour consistent with my personal brand”? Trust takes a long time to establish and can be broken in nanoseconds. Think of trust as a long-term investment, it requires regular and consistent input with the very occasional withdrawal.
To wrap up
Developing a personal branding takes time and lots of reflection but if you work at it, you’re consistent and come from a place of Authenticity, then putting all of these elements together will give you a distinct and positive identity within your organisation and community. So what are you waiting for, get going on your personal brand today!