If someone was to ask you to use three words to describe yourself, what would those words be? And if someone was to use three words to describe you, what do you think those three words would be?What message do those words convey about who you are?
We’re all communicators. At any point of the day, we are sending out messages to the world. Even when we don’t say a word, we are communicating. In the way we dress, the way we carry ourselves, the way we conduct our lives, even the food we eat, the places we hang out, the people we associate with. They’re all sending out a message.
Every message you send out is an extension of your personal branding. Everything is a communication that sends out the data: ‘This is who I am. This is me.’
This is so important, it bears repeating. Everything that you say, do, and think feeds into your personal brand. Think about it.
Therefore, consistency is important. Just like an organisation, there needs to be an alignment of your personal branding to your personal goals.
How you see yourself may not be how others see you.
This is perceived through what data they have received, whether from you directly, or from a host of other variants, such as stories or anecdotes heard, or through associations of having known you in some, way, shape or form. This data can then be further blurred and distorted by their own colourings, such as past experiences, insecurities, judgement, and pre-conceptions of how a person should or should not be. Or should or should not act, for that matter.
So likewise, when someone takes a moment out of their day to connect with you, and you don’t respond, you’re also sending out a message. You’re sending out a message that they are not a priority.
The funny thing about branding is you cannot say what or who you are. You can claim it. But what you do will resonate (or not) with what or who you are. In other words, your actions speak for themselves.
It all begins with awareness, internal and external.
If you can’t start from within and inculcate that belief to resound within yourself, this subconsciously translates into your work ethics. And your personal ethics.
Like a business, you too, have internal and external clients and customers. Your internal clients and customers make up your friends, your family, and your core support group.
So how would you treat your clients or customers? Internal or otherwise? And how does this affect your personal branding?
Remember the phrase, ‘Your reputation precedes you’? As we grow older, personal branding becomes so much more important because it becomes the legacy we leave behind when we are gone, of how we will be remembered.
The beauty is, personal branding is not bound by social conventions. It is limitless and driven only by your core values.
And the thing about personal branding is that it’s not about what you do as a profession that sets who you are. It is about who you are.
Like most topics, personal branding has many facets. In this article, I’ve only just scratched the surface. But I’ve always been a firm believer of communication, and an advocate of how this links to a person’s personal brand.
In her article, ’8 Characteristics of a Personal Brand’, Liz Dennery Sanders talks about how
“Clarity without an emotional connection is flat, social engagement without energy is boring and remarkability without authenticity has no heart.”
Here are 10 non-negotiable personal branding rules I live by:
1. Own it. Own your personal brand. Don't blame anyone else for the way you look, act, portray or project yourself. Know that you made a conscious decision to do what you do. Every single day.
2. Be genuine. People will know if you're faking it so be genuine. It's as simple as being true to yourself. And being true to your values. No one else's. Being you is the most important thing about, well, being you.
3. Be unique. Being true to your values and yours alone is like your DNA that sets you apart from the rest. They don't call it personal brand for nothing. Make your personal brand your own mark in life.
4. Create positive exposure. In this day and age, this should include your online presence. Don't underestimate the reach of this. What does your virtual profile say about you? What messages are you sending out? What is the intent behind it?
5. Don't blur the lines. Don't confuse personal branding for self-promotion. It is not. Personal branding is not about promoting yourself to be something you think you are or can be. Personal branding is about who you are. If confused, refer back to the point about being genuine.
6. Be consistent. This is important. Just like an organisation, there needs to be an alignment of your personal branding to your personal goals. And being consistent lifts your credibility and reliability. People trust what they know. More importantly, people trust what they believe.
7. Think about your personal style. Whether you like it or not, your personal style becomes your personal brand. We are highly visual beings, so it will make an impression in our minds. So when you pick your 'costume' each moment, be it day or night, that becomes an extension of your personal brand.
8. Your body is your temple. Don't laugh. But it's true. I've never seen this given as a tip in articles about personal branding. But when you think about it, your health and lifestyle habits make who you are and send a message about who you are. You only have one body. It is your duty to look after it.
9. Be self-aware. It all boils down to a fundamental foundation you need to start from: self-awareness. Only from this exercise can you then exhaust the topic within yourself in order to truly resonate externally in a genuine manner who (or what) you are.
10. Think positive. This one is the mother lode. If you don't think positive and start from being positive internally, then how can you possibly project a positive personal brand? Yes, it's as simple as that.
How do you want to be perceived? And more importantly, how would you like to be remembered?
If you would like to learn more about how to create a positive personal brand, download our short personal brand exercise.