When was the last time you thought about what people think of you? I mean really. The standard response that most people would answer with is “I don’t care about what people think of me”. But when you really think about it you probably do. Whether it is only the people that matter to you or whether it is the world at large, most people that have some vested interest in being accepted by their fellow human beings will to some or other degree care about the image they intend to portray, whether it is the “I don’t care” look or the “I take pride in the way I look” look. So what why does it matter? Well because just like many other things within our sphere of influence we have the ability to control the way that people perceive us and in fact whether we like it or not people will have a perception of you today. When we meet other humans we make judgment calls. We may be in denial about this but in fact when we meet other humans often we will decide whether these people are going to have something to offer us, whether they are a potential negative influence on us or whether perhaps we may have to help them.
This simple humanistic calculation happens every time we meet and whether subconsciously or intentionally this results in an outcome. This outcome is a judgement or perception of you and the potential value that you have to offer. So given that this is going on I ask you the same question, “What do people think about you?”. Are you perceived as someone that can add value? If you don’t know the answer to this then next time you meet someone ask them. It won’t hurt and might just help. If they answer that you do, which is hopefully the case ask them what was it that gave them that impression? Although you run the risk of sounding somewhat self-involved or at worst insecure the results might surprise you.
Personal Branding deals with the conscious process of managing the way that people perceive you and is very much focused on communicating the value that you add to the people in your life that truly matter to you. Value is a subjective term and an interesting definition I came across was “a regard that something or someone is held to deserve”. So are you someone that is held in high regard? Are you valuable to others?
The first step in consciously managing your personal brand is to understand yourself. It’s all about brand “you” and what it is that you want to represent. This is when you ask yourself questions such as what do I truly care about? What motivates me? What do I want to be known for? What do I want to be remembered for? What is the value that I want to contribute to my fellow man? These types of questions help you to understand your purpose in life. Don’t worry, it isn’t about beating yourself up about what you have or haven’t done it is simply about understanding who you are, what you represent and what is important to you. This will enable you to think about the most important question of all what is your purpose and how do you want people to help you get there. You will be surprised but when people understand what it is that you are trying to achieve they will often help you to get there and that is what Personal Branding is all about. You want people to buy your product except this time the product is you! You want them to buy into what you believe in and join you in the quest that you have set yourself.
The second step is to identify the one thing that you do better than anybody else. What is it that makes you completely and totally unique in the world. Due to a combination of nature and nurture we have been blessed with complete uniqueness. No matter what you heard in Fight Club you are a delicate and unique snow flake! Well maybe not that delicate, but definitely unique. This is what is called your Unique Selling Point or USP. This is the thing that differentiates you from all the other people out there in the world. This should also be something that you love to do, that you completely believe in and that you are an expert on.
The third step is defining what it is that is valuable about you. Truly think about it. What do you have to offer the world at large and how valuable is this perceived to be by others. Everybody has something to offer whether they know it or not. Sit down and write all the things that you are good at and that you love to do. Then write down who would benefit from them and how.
The fourth step is about coming up with your own slogan. This is a one sentence statement that embodies everything that you have just read. It should articulate your purpose, what you have to offer and why you are different. There are a number of great examples of slogans that people have used for instance: [insert slogan here]. The reason this is important is to easily communicate a simple objective that people can relate to that sums up what you are about and what value they can get from you.
The fifth step is to be able to align your personal brand with what you would like to portray with the slogan you have come up with. Would people think of you by your appearance as the person the slogan represents? What can you do to better align with what you want to represent. They say that perception is everything and in order to achieve your objectives it is important that this aligns. Some of the factors that you want to consider are image or look (this includes appearance, dress, grooming etc). Be aware that it is all about looking at all of the little details as when these all add up they make a big difference. In marketing terms this would be all about Product marketing – Again it’s about product you!
The sixth step is to work on the branding itself. This is all about promotion in the marketing mix and is about building all of the relevant branding such as the logo defining the colours, understanding the look and feel of what will make up the representation of the brand. Tips here include having a brand strategy that extends across all of your social media and covers any piece of published material. Key factors include consistency across all of your media, ensuring that all of the material that is online is representing you in the same fashion and in the best possible light.
The seventh step is to understand what is out there about you already. This relates to your public relations or PR strategy. Every time you write something online it leaves a digital footprint, a record if you will. This does not go away and it is important to be able to firstly understand what has been published about you or by you already and whether that aligns with you favourably. If for some reason this does not align with what you are trying to achieve then you have several options. For example you can wipe it clean if you are able to have control of what has been published or secondly you can drown it out by publishing a lot more positive media to ensure that when people look you up, the results are always favorable.
The eighth step is about ensuring that your product ie you is being distributed properly. This is all about the placement of your brand. What you are hoping for is that every time thsat somebody that you are interested in targeting is able to track you down no matter where it is that they look. You want to be accessible to people and ensure that you have a “presence” in all of the key locations that people are going to be looking you up. For example you want to make sure that if they search your relevant niche area online that all they see is references to you. This is all about what search marketing people refer to as search engine optimization and makes sure that when people google you or more importantly anything related to the niche area that you are building brand recognition with that they are getting access to the core messages that are relevant and important.
The ninth most important step is to understand your price or better put your worth. By this I mean what is your potential hourly rate and how have you calculated this. This is important as it will help you to understand how your time is being used and to better align your time with the activities that most enable you to reach the objectives that you have set for yourself. Your time is your most valuable asset and understanding where you spend your time is critical to determining whether that is an efficient use of your most valuable asset. Ask yourself every day “did I do something today to enhance my personal brand?” what did I do and what was it that was of value to your customers. This kind of day to day tracking of your impact will help you to understand whether you are getting the desired impact.
These are 8 important considerations for building your personal brand.
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