Whether you’re searching for a better job, looking for a promotion, considering changing careers or growing your network, building a personal brand can help you reach your goals. As leaders, we often market services and products but forget that we also need to market ourselves!
For those of you new to the idea, personal branding evolved from the realization that corporate branding is integral to the success of any company. I mean think about it.....any of the brands (Nike, General Mills, NBC, LinkedIn, FaceBook, Tesla, etc), when done well, it helps us know what the company does well enough for it to be at the forefront of our minds when we need the kind of services or products it offers.
Personal branding is no different. And yet, the concept feels a little uncomfortable, especially for women because women tend to see it as self-promotion and even self-aggrandizement. I know I struggled with it for the longest time. I preferred to work my hardest and let my work speak for itself. Until I realized that few people are walking around ready to place a tiara on my head!
In my coaching of both men and women over the years, I’ve found that so many of us struggle for the same reasons. It’s because we’ve spent a lifetime learning to be modest, to not talk about our achievements, to hope that others will notice our efforts if we strive long and hard enough. And we’re suffering the consequences.
Often, we are unable to FULLY appreciate our own abilities. We downplay our abilities, experiences and minimize our successes. And then, we let our failures shine bright on our mental bulletin board. In addition, when we want to rise to our full potential, we’re also unable to draw the attention of those who can help us. Because unless we shine the light on ourselves, the world is too busy to do it for us.
That’s where personal branding comes in. At its core, personal branding is about giving people the words to talk about you when you’re not around. It’s how people refer you to others or tell them how you can help them. Unlike what most of us believe, it’s not about projecting yourself or becoming an obnoxious self-promoter (we see too many of those on social media, right?). Instead, it’s about letting others know how you can BEST be of service.
Here is what to start with:
Begin by doing a little self-audit exercise. Reflect on your strengths, values, and passions to know who you really are. Reflect on your expertise, experiences and leadership vision to get clear on what you do. When you do so, you’ll find it much easier to market yourself because you’re coming from a place of authenticity and purpose.
Position Yourself and Develop Your Personal Image
Once you’ve done that, start creating a positioning statement. Some people call it an elevator pitch – it’s what you would tell others about yourself in 2 minutes or less. Have 2-3 positioning statements depending on how long you have to talk about yourself. Include who you are and what you do, but don’t forget to say how it helps others (the value you add!).
Next, build your credibility with content. I know...who has the time? But think of it this way - no one will know who you are if you don't promote yourself and your expertise! Use your personal blog, Linkedin profile or publishing tools like Medium to get your message out on topics you are knowledgeable about.
Now that you have an authentic brand that feels true to you, go out and let the world know about it! Network with those in and also outside your organization or business. Update your social media profiles and use its power to connect with people around the world. We were designed to work best when we work together – who knows what synergies you may find.
Sheryl Sandberg wrote in her book Lean In that women’s career trajectories are less like a ladder and more like a jungle gym. We jump up, we step aside, we take a break, we explore different avenues, and different passions. But ultimately, it's up to us to keep the world updated with where we are on our journey so we can be servant leaders and find meaning every step of the way!
So NOW, I want you to get into the habit of putting yourself out there and creating a name for yourself in whatever industry or sector you are in or would like to be in.
Here are some actionable steps to start taking - Grab your calendar and note pad and let's get to work with mapping out the simple things you can do each month to build your brand.
1. Contact 10 new people via email, direct message on LinkedIn, letter or by picking up that magical cell phone and making a phone call. Get comfortable with introducing yourself and get used to reaching out and finding a way to connect with people in you're industry or people who have a similar passion or vision.
2. Set up 8 meetings for the month ahead. That's only 2 a week. It can be a lunch meeting or a simple 20 minute coffee to catch up and stay connected. It can be old colleagues, competitors, a person you admire or someone new to your contact list.
3. Get online and create 3 posts every day that cover your expertise, life experience or your unique ideas that you want to share with the world. Hopefully you are ONLY using social media to make connections, share your ideas and build your brand. That's all it should be used for...
4. Look at the month ahead and see what trade shows, expo's or events you could attend to build your brand and make new connections. It might be a charity golf day or an opportunity to help out in your local community. You want to try and attend 1 event every week at the very least.
5. You always want to be interested in other people but it's just as important to become an interesting person, who knows a few cool things... so every day, invest 30 minutes learning something new that you can share with others about your industry or sector.
That's it, hopefully that gives you the confidence to take action and start building your brand and design the best YOU!