There is one thing for sure in this world, there is no shortage of marketing. Everywhere you drive, walk, read, eat – you can feel and see the marketing. The biggest challenge for marketers is branding. Just because you are seeing or hearing their message does not mean you are interpreting their message based on their intention. World class companies have figured this out. Some have even built what seems to be a cult of followers around their brand.
But what about personal branding? What is it and why is it important?
Each one of us either has a strong belief in what we stand for or a general understanding of who we are. The real question is, does the world or more importantly the people you interact with share the same image?
If you care about influence and reputation, this is an important subject and if you don’t care, perhaps you should.
I find it interesting how opportunities present themselves to the “right” people more often because of their personal brand. Some seem to effortlessly get ahead while others remain in neutral or first gear.
Let me provide an example of the importance of personal branding. Let’s imagine a young man early in his career, we will call him Ted. Ted is hard working and sincerely wants to get ahead in this world but he has been told by countless news programs, magazines and society that “business or life hacks” which is the new word for shortcuts, (I am not sure I like the word business hacks but let’s discuss) are the way to grow his network and net worth exponentially.
Work ethic certainly isn’t a problem for Ted he will put in as many hours as necessary but the turnaround should be quick as he needs to “scale” his success. Ted is making progress in his career but not at the speed in which he feels others around him are experiencing. With business ideas flying around him he needs to find a company that is raising capital and growing.
Ted believes in this new world, moving from company to company is what it’s all about. After all, he’s read about how Millennials need new perks, new work space etc. to be satisfied. The problem with Ted’s approach is that he is building a brand without intention. His personal brand is being built with a get ahead and grow at all cost brand. Ted is viewed from his inner circle and outer circle as someone who is driven but aimless with his approach. He is not an expert in anything specific and seems to be out for one thing only…Ted.
While this strategy can certainly work to attain temporary professional success, it’s not something meaningful. It lacks the genuine rewards received when someone puts the “hustle” aside for a moment and focuses on the work.
When you focus on being valuable in this world and building knowledge within a specific vertical you are building your personal brand. People and business associates see you as an expert in your field. You are viewed as steady, reliable and someone to be counted on. Because your brand is being built around core attributes, opportunities are presented to you and hand-picked by you.
Building a personal brand can be both intentional and unintentional but something everyone should be aware of and thinking about.
Are you someone who stands for something? Have you carved out a skill or trade of value where people seek your advice or knowledge? Are you building a personal life worth hanging a hat on or are you jumping from one thing to the next a bit aimlessly?
If you play long ball, you need to understand your personal brand and if your actions are not matching your intentions, change them. If you want to be known as someone who can be trusted, get consistent with your life. If ethics are important, make sure your decisions on a daily basis match your personal brands message.
We are living in a new era where social media is everywhere. Who you are as a person is now rarely separate from your professional life. If we continue to move in a direction of complete transparency, don’t you want to be ahead of the game?
As I mentioned earlier, world class organizations fight relentlessly for their brand. The way the world sees them. Do they do this for profit? Some may but I believe these rare companies were built on a platform that differs from others. Why can’t you do the same?
Ideas to put into practice to build a solid personal brand.
- Identify how you want to be seen by your friends, family and business associates.
- Examine the way you live your life on both a personal and professional level vs. how you want to be viewed.
- Change your behavior and actions to match your intentions.
- Understand and be aware that others are creating the narrative about who you are with or without your help. Don’t provide negative ammunition.
About the Author
Shaun Enders is a Co-Founder and Managing Partner of Transition Staffing Group located in San Diego. Shaun is extremely passionate about recruiting and developing others to bring out the best version of themselves.