I’m the president of this student club at my university…
I play on the school basketball team…
I volunteer at the local community association…
There’s nothing wrong with treading the same path as those before. In fact, activities like the ones mentioned above are highly valuable for ourselves and others.
But if you’re thinking of truly standing out from the crowd, chances are you should try a different road.
Being able to differentiate yourself from the average Joe is Personal Branding 101.
You want to make a distinct, memorable impression on the people you meet, whether they’re new friends, teachers, potential clients, or others.
One way to develop a powerful personal brand is to start an interesting project that will help showcase your ingenuity and talents.
Here are some steps to decide on your project:
1. Find out what you’re good at
Jot down a few things you like doing. Perhaps, think about ways of combining your interests in the context of your new project.
For example, I like photography and I like telling stories. So maybe I can do a visual journalism project.
If you aren’t really sure about what you enjoy doing, make a list of activities you think you would like to do and go try them out!
It is only by doing that you will find out what you’re good at, and what you want to get better at.
Overthinking your plans is unproductive, and can lead to ballooning self-doubt and uncertainty. Just take action!
2. Find out if people like what you’re good at
Our reality is largely influenced by other people. If most people aren’t interested in your skills or talents, what you’re good at won’t necessarily gain much recognition. Assuming that some kind of outside recognition is one of your project’s goals.
You should talk to people before starting the project, to determine if others would see value in it.
Discuss it with members of your community, trusted connections, or just people who are willing to chat in the cafe.
(Avoid only asking your friends and family, who may care too much about your feelings to be completely honest!)
If these people don’t seem to care about your project idea, do they have another need you might be able to fulfill?
Try listening carefully to see if you can find a common trend of need or want among the people you talk with.
You might not be going down the expected path, but life is full of surprises.
3. Find the sweet spot between points 1 and 2, and start your new project!
Once you know what you like doing, and what social demand you can meet – start your new project!
If you need funding, you can apply to different organisations depending on the nature of your project, or set up a crowdfunding page.
If you need any kind of help, do remember to reach out to those whom you see as potential contributors or even project partners.
If your work does have social value as we mentioned in point 2, you will attract at least a few supporters.
So, go kickstart your ideas now!
Reposted with permission and published in English daily The Star, Malaysia, 17 January 2015.