We've all heard the term "personal brand" in the Corporate environment a lot more recently than usual. If you've attended workshops, events, or are a part of a women's network, it is ALL the buzz. That said, it's important that you understand what it is, but more importantly how you should define this for yourself.
I can remember the first time I ever realized that my personal brand was something I should have paid a lot more attention to in my younger years. I started working with a team that had a HUGE problem with me wearing sparkly stiletto heels in a corporate office, shared feedback with my boss, and I was mortified. In hindsight, I don't know what the hell I was thinking, but it was definitely a learning lesson. I quickly realized that while I wanted to express my stylish or trendy side, it was something I could do in a more subtle way in a corporate environment. It's ok to be stylish, but place and time are everything.
Although the way we look is a part of our who we are, our personal brand consists of many elements: your appearance, your attitude, your values, and most importantly - your reputation. Cindy Wahler, Ph.D., C.Psych. states in her blog that how we view ourselves is not what defines our personal brand. In fact, our perception of ourselves matters very little. Our personal brand is how others perceive us and it is important that we are clearly articulating who we are.
So, how can we define our personal brand? Through your personal brand, you can articulate what you want your employer, colleagues and networking contacts to know about you. Here are 6 tips to help you effectively define your personal brand.
Create a skills inventory.
What do you offer? What are the core skills that you bring to the table? Where you have contributed your skills? I like to start thinking about my very first job when it comes time for me to think about what skills I've developed. If you started off as a receptionist, working for a restaurant, or organizing shoes at your local department store, OWN IT! We all started from the bottom, but look where we are now. The skills you've gained along the way, the promotions you've received, and the opportunities you've had are all relevant to who you are, what you do, and why you do it. It's a part of YOU!
State your accomplishments.
What are the key achievements you point to for demonstrating professional success? What have you done and what do you do now? Create a timeline and trajectory of your career. No matter how big or small, we all have accomplished noteworthy milestones in our career. Remember the time you completed your first big report, got that well-deserved promotion, gave your first major presentation, or completed your first extended project? Those are all accomplishments. I used to be so bad about downplaying my accomplishments by saying things like "it's not a big deal...", or "it didn't take that much time...". STAHP! You're not doing yourself any favors by making people think that you don't really put much effort into what you do. It can actually come across as a bit egotistic. Don't forget to celebrate all that you've achieved. We can sometimes forget about it when we're in a rush to level up.
Hold up the mirror.
Take a look within and be honest with yourself. What image do you portray by the way you carry yourself, the clothes that you wear, the way that you speak, and the way you spend your time? Many times we walk through our lives constantly wanting to have the next opportunity land in our lap, but if you're having trouble with moving to the next level - it's probably because you aren't ready. Don't get me wrong. You may have all the experience and skills, but our personality and reputation are what lands us the opportunities that many people seek. If you're looking to join a new team or be promoted, take a look in the mirror and really ask yourself if you're truly walking the walk that someone in your future position should be walking. Are you taking time to portray the image of someone in a higher level position? Are you cultivating relationships? Are you taking opportunities to let feedback you receive grow you, or are you on the defense when someone questions your abilities? Be honest with yourself, swallow your pride, and start digging deeper into where you can improve. We all have areas to improve in our life.
Clarify your reputation.
What are you known for? What do other people think of you? What skills are you known for? What is your expertise? One thing that I LOVE to do, and that I highly recommend to my clients, is to be a resource. If you can recommend things to people that have worked for you, you'll most definitely add credit to your reputation bank. I often have women ask how they can gain more confidence talking to people they don't know, or participating in small talk. One thing that I began doing was reading theSkimm each morning to catch up on what's happening so that I could easily start a conversation that could quite possibly inform someone of something timely and relevant they didn't have a clue about. Add value all day, everyday. Another way to clarify your reputation is to simply ask a few trusted friends or colleagues how they would honestly describe you to a stranger. Ask them for their candid response, take the feedback, and adjust accordingly. We all see ourselves differently than others see us.
Scan your network.
Who do you know and who knows you? How well are you connected in your industry? Eliza Shanley, founder and managing partner of Women@Work Network, LLC, shared in a presentation with Ellevate Women's Network that you don’t have just one brand. It evolves over time. It is different day-by-day in the sense that we all have multidimensional lives. Use this to your advantage. Proactively choose what and how you brand.
Now, you must successfully communicate your personal brand. Create a short and sweet 10-second elevator pitch that you can share with someone you meet that shows you're a valuable resource, but also creates a bit of curiosity. This should clearly state who you are as a professional and you can also add this to the beginning of your resume and/or LinkedIn profile. Be sure to use adjectives to describe your work style and include specific areas of expertise.
Now, I'd love to hear from you. What from this blog post really resonated with you, and what have you learned that you can implement or practice changing this week? Leave your thoughts below directly in the comments.
Brittanni Below, MBA is a coach, speaker, and trainer based in Houston, TX that provides services to help fierce and self-driven women to live a more balanced, healthy, and more fulfilling life. By fully understanding your unique talents and gifts and what is distracting you from being successful, Brittanni helps you transform fear, lack of confidence, and life challenges, into lessons that push you to crush the goals that you've set for yourself. If you're interested in personal coaching, book a session with Brittanni here.