Often, I am asked why it matters to invest in your personal brand, what role does social media play or is it too late to start the journey. Without context, clarity, and a conscious effort to appreciate this topic, such questions can limit our progress. There are certain myths about personal branding – that it is only meant for celebrities, you need to be an extrovert to succeed, we need to be always ‘on’ and on social media, that networking is the solution or that it is an overnight job. Fortunately, these are untrue. I had the opportunity to share my thoughts in an interview that covered a range of subjects including personal branding. Below is a summary of the discussion and my reflections.
Understanding personal branding
It is an inside-out approach that presents your best self to help others succeed in their pursuits. It is not about you but the other. This sounds counterintuitive because we are often told you need to go out there and ‘sell’ or ‘market’ yourself. Also, in some cultures it can be seen as overindulging in self-promotion.
Though a thoughtful self-reflection, deep analysis and a focused approach, anyone can, and let me add, at any age, build a personal brand. You don’t need a sizable bank balance or a large entourage of public relations professionals to create and sustain one. However, you need to let go of preconceived notions and believe in yourself. I created a simple model (which is also the core of my recent book – Get Intentional) that allows anyone to build and further their personal brand and it has 4 key components: Clarity, Commitment, Consistency and Communication which aligns with the process of Building Expertise, Adding Value and Reinventing Yourself. It is evident from these components that the journey can be long and arduous and requires investment of time, dedication and effort.
This isn’t a quick fix remedy that can solve a crisis you may be facing or address a business opportunity that you see coming your way. You may end up solving the issue or gaining a new deal but that may not be long lasting, unless they hinge on the premise that you are engaging in an honest, consistent and connected way.
How important is a personal brand? As important as it is to eat, breathe and sleep well. It needs to be an everyday attempt to get better and stronger. No one is going to do it for you. A personal brand is your own charter and agenda.
The sooner you begin, the stronger you can make it. The faster you invest, the sooner you can reap the benefits. We all have our impressions of who we think we are and what probably think of us. How much of that matches reality and what you can do about improving it to present your best self while helping others achieve their goals can determine the value of your personal brand.
Factors to consider
Self-awareness: Having knowledge of who you are, what you stand for and what you offer to help others succeed is important.
Confidence: To establish your personal brand, you need to be yourself, be sure of your capabilities and drawbacks. Tapping into your inner strength allows you to raise your limits. This is about staying grounded no matter how far you go or high you reach.
Purpose-led:You can only help others and build your personal brand when you have lead with conviction and have a True North. It helps you be authentic and lead with authority.
Customer-orientation: Personal branding has a lot to do with solving problems for others. Not about gaining brownie points for yourself. When you are continually listening, engaging and understanding challenges others face, you hone your customer focus skills, much needed to succeed as a personal brand.
Social media isn’t the starting point of personal branding, nor is it the end game. Personal branding can reach more and influence more through social media. It can amplify your strengths. Although who you are and what you stand for has to be first developed in the real world before you can spread the word further. Authenticity rules.
Selecting the right social media platform
There is no one-size-fits-all, choose the medium that best suits you. Each channel has its advantages and disadvantages. How you use it and consistently communicate matters. You need to know where your audiences are and what problems you can solve for them and choose the channels accordingly.
When to start
You can build your personal brand early and with a clear purpose. You can be a student and have a clear goal in mind. That is also a starting point for personal branding success. Even if you are older, you can still begin the journey. There is no age to get started. It is also not about a career. This transcends all forms of engagement and levels and opportunities.
Is behavioral change vital
You can’t just change behavior to build a personal brand. Your personal brand hinges on authenticity. No matter how much you try to cover behavioral concerns, they will catch-up at some point. This isn’t ‘a fake it till you make it’ solution. You may see some semblance of success, but your inner self will get corroded. The best way is to understand the challenges, if any, and openly and directly address them with your audiences. People are usually quite accepting and willing to forgive as long you demonstrate honesty and positive intent.
This article was also published on Aniisu K Verghese'sLinkedIn.
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Aniisu K Verghese Ph.D. is an award-winning communications leader, personal branding coach, author, speaker and academician with over 22 years of experience. His mission is to help organisations and individuals discover and develop their 'sweet-spot' through effective communications. Aniisu has spoken at international conferences on 4 continents and authored three books - Inclusive Internal Communications (2023), Internal Communications - Insights, Practices and Models (2012) and Get Intentional (2021). More about his work can be read at www.intraskope.com and www.aniisu.com
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