Do The Work People — Personal Branding
What do we want people to perceive when they encounter our personal brand? Well, predictably, we can begin with all the marketing buzz words: authentic, personal, empathetic, meaningful. But in my experience, clients, friends, peers, and small business owners often seek advice on how to portray confidence, be seen as the leader in their respective fields, offer the voice of reason, and stand out amid a sea of imposters.
This is what I always share with clients: You can’t always please everyone.
Some people like vanilla, some people like chocolate, and some people are sugar intolerant. Period. You’re not going to curry favor or catch the eye of everyone. But you will attract attention and grow regard and maybe even admiration by doing one simple thing: Know and own who you are at every level of your being — physically, emotionally, mentally, spiritually, personally and professionally. Know the ins and outs of you. Know the light and dark of you. And accept it all or accept to change what you don’t consider to be TRUTH for you.
Be reflective. Know your strengths, aspirations, and areas where you would like to improve and grow. Let your definition of yourself derive from your own internal observations and assessments. Don’t simply become the person you think others want you to be. Validate yourself and disregard the likes and dislikes that social media would tally for you. It is imperative to be honest with yourself. Love yourself for the gifts that you bring to the table and the integrity with which you share them. Honor your life and your presence in the world by taking the very best care of yourself.
Once you finally own who you are, then you can be certain that all that you project — your voice, your being, your aura, your energy — are reflective of YOU. Your clients, friends, prospects, and leads will sense intuitively that you are projecting your authentic self. They will gravitate toward THAT person — the YOU who is certain, confident, and unapologetically REAL!
Here are some tips:
Manifest From Within:
Aspiration and joyful satisfaction are intrinsic drives. In corporate branding, we’ve always pushed our clients to manifest from within. All that is created externally simply mirrors an internal state or reality. To understand the whole requires learning to engage in empathic internal and external communication across cultures, teams, clients, and customers. This “practice” provides validation, adds to ideation, and forges strategies for demonstrating and building value.
Now can this same rule apply to personal branding? YES! Be clear about your core values — and manifest them from the inside out.
Self-assessment and appreciation do not happen overnight. But in this day and age, we want instant gratification. So the temptation is to forego the hard, personal work and rely on outside feedback to shape our own image. We may mistakenly think that by having a fancy website, dropping names and insights, and by surrounding ourselves with like minded peers, we have arrived at the doorstep of success. But success by association is not real or valid. One must still do the hard work of internal excavation and revelation.
And now a caveat, so that you are clear from the beginning: the work never ends. I’m sorry to say this but even when you do have a strong sense of who you are and maybe are even a leader in your community, profession or industry, you must continue to do the work! The world evolves constantly. Change is the only permanence. As productive and driven people, we still have to keep on producing, innovating, re-envisioning, improving, learning and growing so that we can maintain our personal brand, uphold our leadership status, and be the people we know ourselves to be inside.
Capitalize on Confidence
When you know yourself intrinsically, you cultivate the confidence to carry your personal brand/identity into the world for all to see. Confidence is based on a deep awareness of ability, tempered by humility. It possesses a magnetism that draws people to you as it suggests that you have done your homework, have weighed all options, have sharpened, refined, and added to your skill set, are positive and desire to continue adding to the conversation, and are willing to take ownership of and responsibility for your position. Confidence has a number of different elements, including the following:
Clarity — The ability to have clear vision, to identify a direction, and to know what the solution to a challenge is or how to find it. Clarity testifies to an inner grounding, an ability to cut through the “chatter” of doubt or insufficiency in order to highlight an ideal solution or best-case scenario.
Courage — The ability to reach deep into one’s core and find the resources necessary to take on new challenges, navigate obstacles, move through fears, reveal authentic humility, and turn anxious uncertainty into positive action. Courage is the author of true, right decision-making and enables people to move in directions that may not be initially popular, to exercise their voices and question authority, or to challenge the status quo when interventions are needed.
Openness — The willingness to interact, share, receive criticism, and allow the flow of new ideas. It illustrates an intelligent awareness of the inspirations that can efficiently solve issues. It demonstrates humility and the willingness to admit that one may not have all the answers and can look deeper into the world to identify more appropriate solutions.
Integrity — This is the backbone of being and the crown of character. It is a cumulative reputation derived from speaking truth, executing right action and best practices, demonstrating dependability, observing all rules of conduct and behavior, and driving diligently to repeat and improve upon success. If confidence is found in “reaching” for new experiences, integrity is found in the depths of the one who reaches. It begins at the core and broadcasts out.
Experience — Foundational to confidence, experience helps you stretch your skills and abilities, do new things, meet new people, set new benchmarks or attain new heights, and maybe even fail so that you can pick yourself up again and learn from what didn’t work and why. Necessity may be the great motivating mother of invention, but experience is the undergarment of accomplishment and the midwife of “I can, I did, I will.”
Education — Constant learning, insatiable curiosity, and ongoing discovery are requisite for growth, evolution, and mastery. Knowledge equips us with tools for our life and work. And no tool lives in a static world. Tools change, the world changes, and so must we grow and evolve along with it. The more tools we have, the greater our insights into how things work and maybe how we might be able to make them work even better.
And now you are set. Think creatively. Breathe aspiration. Act with purpose, compassion, and confidence. Bring your personal brand into the public sphere. There are no short cuts. At least there are no short cuts with a shelf life. Do the work and know that the rewards will include an honest reflection of the amazing person you want the world to meet.