There’s no question in my mind that the renewed attention to our personal brands has everything to do with digital technology.
The fact that both our high points and our missteps can now be preserved for eternity on an Internet that has no real and true delete button forces us to focus on how we want to be seen. A haphazard approach no longer works.
The good news is we need only to think and understand these five truths – no matter how young or old we are – to get good at it.
#1 – Personal branding is not a new concept.
Personal branding is not a new concept. It’s just a relatively new term for what we used to refer to as building a reputation based on who we were, what we did and how we went about doing it.
#2 – Personal branding is not a bad word.
A lot of people squirm when they’re asked about their personal brand. They think the concept is “cheesy” or it makes them feel like a “product” instead of a person.
These are generally the same people who don’t like the world “sell” and who say they don’t sell, don’t want to sell or think selling is sleazy when in fact we all sell something – our goods, services, our brand every day. Our economy is dependent on it.
Your personal brand is not a dirty word. It’s the sum total of who you are. Let’s hope that doesn’t fall into the bad word category.
#3 – Personal branding requires some soul searching.
Nothing great was ever manifested without absolute clarity of purpose and a vision of what you define as success. In order to have a strong personal brand you need to spend some time getting clear on the who, what, when, where, why and how of you.
That requires not just knowing your story, but owning it – even the not so attractive parts. That’s not always so painless. But once you do, it makes the process of personal branding easier. And the best news – you get to define what success looks like for you.
#4 – Personal branding is not just about the packaging.
I recently met with a prospective client who told me she really liked my website and what I had to say and then added that she liked me even better in person.
I took that as a huge compliment. I take time with my brand and am strategic with how I present myself online. But it’s not without substance behind it and knowing that my offline version matches, if not sometimes exceeds the expectations I’ve set up.
Call it truth in advertising, but great packaging means nothing with a product that falls short.
#5 – You still need to sell you.
Here we are again. Back to that other dirty word. Sell.
But that’s the cold, hard truth no one wants to tell you about personal branding.
Like any great product, no matter how great the packaging or how clear the essence and purpose, you still have to demonstrate how you serve a need. The Field of Dreams idea that if you build it they will come, is a nice premise. But they won’t come if they don’t know you’re there.
Personal branding is not a destination you arrive at.
It’s an ongoing process that is subject to pivots, tweaks and turns as your personal and professional life unfolds. You’re never too young to start and never too old to stop.