I used to be skeptical about personal brands. They felt contrived and a bit manipulative – and far too self-promotional for my liking. I like to think of myself as discerning – I hate feeling like I’m being sold on anything. I was wrong.
Personal branding is just another way of saying that you’re clear about you. Your brand is your authenticity. It’s that simple. What shifted for me is that I see branding as a way to support substance over hype – because you can’t control your own brand, it is controlled by how others perceive you.
Need more convincing? Here are eight reasons why a personal brand is essential in today’s busy, content-rich, sensory-overload, social media-rich world:
1. Brands foster connection…with people! We really want to see others for who they are – authentic and genuine. Quirks and all, your willingness to show up and be human builds connection. Your brand is built by your emotional appeal to others – forget about what you look like, how you dress or wear your hair… the core of your personal brand is how others feel when you’re around them.
2. You’ll be more marketable. You can’t stand out if you’re blending in, and your uniqueness also makes you most marketable. Whether it’s your ability to tell a great advertising story or listen to your clients carefully to solve their most pressing issues, your marketability is determined by your unique value. Sometimes experience or exposure is what sets you apart. Most of the time, it’s the unique combination of skills, exposure, experience and strengths.
3. You can stop trying to be all things to all people. This noisy, busy world pulls us in lots of different direction. But you can’t be all things to all people – not to an employer or to your clients. Trying to be something you’re not is exhausting and far from productive. Take a cue from Nordstrom – they’re not a value brand, and they don’t try to be one.
4. You’ll be more irresistible. People will want to be around you, and you’ll be way more approachable. We like people who are comfortable with themselves because it gives us permission to be ourselves. Knowing yourself is essential to your personal brand, and when you know yourself well, you’re just more comfortable in your own skin. Think of a public figure that is comfortable with his/her self… they even appear more credible, don’t they?
5. Networking is easier. The best kind of networking is organic — the connections just happen and are easy as pie to establish and cultivate. You attract the right people and resources and you’ll find it easy to be a resource to others. When you’re “on brand” networking flows – it’s less deliberate and structured. It sounds more like conversations and looks more like friends catching up. Who wouldn’t want this?
6. Opportunities will find you. It’s a heck of a lot easier to pull opportunities to you than to chase or hunt after them. Just like people, opportunities are attracted to something specific. Strong brands are like magnets, drawing in all the right elements to be successful. Don’t panic if you think you’re excluding opportunities or not casting a wide enough net with your “brand.” Zip Car doesn’t try to market to everyone who doesn’t own a car, now do they? They’re an urban lifestyle company.
7. Your professional reputation will blossom. In short, your personal brand is your professional reputation. The more consistent your brand, the more your reputation will be enhanced. Why? Your brand helps to tell people what they can expect and what you’ll deliver on. Are you the person who’s going to get it done quickly, with little guidance (even though it may not be prefect) or are you the person who needs some extra time, will ask more questions, but will execute without a mistake? Both work as brands – just notice how the expectations and delivery vary.
8. You’ll have more fun. When you truly get that you don’t control your personal brand, but that it is controlled by others’ perception of you… whew! Seriously. You’re not in control, so just breathe in and relax a bit. No one is scrutinizing your brand with a fine tooth comb – we’re simply looking for consistency and authenticity. Enjoy yourself.
Still skeptical about branding? That’s cool. Think about it as getting crystal clear about what others consider most memorable about you. If you’re not clear, start to ask this question – you just might be surprised at what you discover about your brand.