Whether you acknowledge it or not, you have a personal brand when it comes to your career or organisation. Keeping your head down and your nose to the wheel in order to get the job done is no longer enough.
In a world where technology is at the centre of almost all you do, especially in business, and information is shared instantly and constantly, your reputation or people’s perception of you or your business, can be changed in a moment. For many, this can be a difficult issue to come to terms with.
1. Authenticity is essential
At Athena Coaching we believe authenticity is a strength and a virtue, so much so, that combined with Positive Psychology and Appreciative Inquiry, Authentic Leadership is one of our key approaches to bringing out the best in people. As we discussed here it won’t hold you back.
What are your strengths, likes and dislikes, personal style and personality? The essence of your brand is who you are when you strip away all the masks. And if you are not authentic, you may fool people in the short term, but your true self will always shine through.
2. Get in the right space
If you feel uncomfortable, restricted or constrained and feel like you don’t fit in, you probably don’t and are in the wrong business or role. Consider your passion, drives and purpose, and if they don’t gel with where you are, you can’t bring your authentic self to the table. If you don’t think you are sending the right messages or operating at your best, then maybe you need to make a change to be able to flourish.
3. Own your strengths
If you want to stand out from the crowd, and really, that’s what personal branding is all about, then you want to be known for something. To really shine, you need to be clear about who you are, what you want and what skills and strengths are getting you where you want to be. To be a thought leader, or an expert, you need something that differentiates you and stick to that message in all mediums. If you think you can spread yourself around and be known for everything, ultimately you run the risk of being known for nothing instead. Identify what your area of expertise is, and stick to that message.
4. Be on your best behaviour
It doesn’t matter how great you are at what you do, how fantastic your product or service or individual skill is, or how great you look. It is how you behave that impacts most on how you are perceived, regarded and most importantly remembered. Behaviours matter, and it is how you do what you do and not just the end result that counts. Always late? Consistently indiscrete or lacking confidentiality? Known for having one too many wines at business events? These things are often far more important to your brand and your success than even your skills and strengths.
5. Be consistent
As already mentioned, technology and the information age make personal branding a greater challenge. Have you ever searched for your name on Google? If not, do it soon, and do it often. Knowing what others are reading about you is critical to managing your brand. How you appear online is just as important as how you appear in person. This isn’t restricted to social and business networking, your website and your blog. How you comment online and photos and links shared by others about you all play a part in your online presence. And don’t think anything said in a locked down privacy setting is safe either. If you wouldn’t say it out loud at a dinner table, then don’t say it online.
Think about how you show up and the messages you send. That’s your personal brand and you can’t help but have one, so why not make it work for you instead of against you?