Personal Branding: 10 Takeaways

#1 Value over Perfection

Photo by Rodion Kutsaev on Unsplash

There are two types of people: those who work in sales, and those who think they don't.

I was a bit skeptical, the right word would be judgemental, about the entire cosmology of personal branding. What I understood about personal branding was that some Bamby-eyed people took their LinkedIn or Instagram profiles a bit too seriously and a bit too far, and managed to build fame out of the current global craving for hope, gurus, and God.

I was wrong.

Ms. Judgmental dug a bit deeper and changed her idea after binge-watching a series of TEDx talks on personal branding.

It turns out that personal branding brings to the table some healthy principles that can serve us all not only in building our own personal brand but also in discerning value from ehm …Bamby-eyed noise.

Is personal branding for me?

If you are wondering what is personal branding and whether it applies to you, it should suffice to say that we (which includes me and you), are already operating under a reasonably well-lit public stage, and therefore personal branding is no longer a matter of if but rather how.

The truth is that we are all regularly auditioning for either maintaining our status or springboarding into our next big opportunity.

You can look at it as a race, or as a dance, you can embrace it or fight it, the essence remains, we are all already out of our shell and onto the shelf, constantly being exposed, and in various degrees judged.

Here are 10 takeaways to help you navigate the uncertain terrain of personal branding.

1. Personal branding is about value, not fame

The currency of personal branding is value, not fame. Fame as the value is a short-circuit of the system.

I am not saying that fame is easy, but in this day and age you can build personas to fit any market craving, anyone can buy a virtual pedestal and become instantaneously famous.

Building value is a completely different story and can’t be done overnight.

Personal branding is a shared self-development journey, it is a light that grows with you. The value of your personal brand is the result of the consistent commitment and work you put into what you do.

2. Your brand is not what you say it is. It’s what they say it is.

Your brand is not what you say it is. It’s what they say it is. A brand is a person’s gut feeling about a product, service, or organization (Marty Neumeier).

So maybe yes, the brand is in the eye of the beholder and their expectations, and changing people's thoughts and perceptions is a Sisyphean endeavor, yet, we are in charge of who we are, the work we put out there, what we stand for, and the stories we tell, and that is already an enormous power and responsibility.

Personal branding is not a label nor a tagline, it is a story and as such needs to be nurtured, valued, and shared to stick to the memory of your audience/network. (Powerful Personal Branding, Ann Bastianelli — TEDxWabashCollege)

3. Personal branding is not about what you can do for someone but how you make them feel

Q: How do you make people feel better, inspired, and more empowered?

A: By serving them value, by helping them to help themselves to their own value and growth. Brands live, expand, survive, they can go through roller-coasters, they leave a trace, products have by definition a limited shelf-life.

We are pushed to a product (marketing), while we are pulled to a brand like a magnet. (How To Integrate Personal Brand Strategies on Social Media, Dr. Soo Wincci, TEDxUSMNibongTebal)

4. Trust

Brands — including personal ones — are built on trust. Amen. Anything that is worth our finite time is built on trust, the rest is noise. For your personal brand, trust means refusing to hold yourself back and trusting there is space for anyone, including you. For your community, trust means that you are accountable for what you stand for.

5. Personal branding is about them, not you

Personal branding is the ability to a) silence your ego, b) shut the f*ck up, and c) listen, listen, and listen, like there is no tomorrow. Without tuning in to the wavelength of your community, how can you cater to their needs? It is not about what you think you can give, it is about to what extent you are ready to go to serve your community.

The goal of networking is not to accumulate contacts and shake as many hands as possible, if you care about your own net brand value, you should network with the goal of anticipating the needs of your audience.

6. Paying it forward

While growing your own community is crucial, your personal brand is yours even if your community consists of a handful of people and you are getting little to no return.

Believe in what you bring to the world before asking others to buy into your brand. When it comes to personal branding, you cannot live on external life support or try to parasite on someone's else glory.

Because there is only one you, and you have full copyright over it, you need to tune into an abundance mindset, there is no scarcity, you are the only one that can provide your value, and the more you share it the more it grows.

7. Authenticity over perfection

Authenticity means showing up with your best self today, your best story, in a continuum, a flow that marks the direction. Authenticity is vulnerable, it allows setbacks and sprints, it allows lessons learned and growth. By the way, nobody expects you (or your story) to be perfect.

8. Growth over perfection

Your personal brand is one of the outcomes of a much longer journey into self-awareness, please re-read it slowly and let it sink.

Accept that we all are work in progress, once you pour your heart into something, be deliberate and unapologetic about it, your brand is like no one else, you are here to serve not to please.

Personal branding can only flourish when built on a growth mindset, the trajectory of your personal and professional growth. You own your brand value, you are entitled to grow and change your mind.

So, you took the wrong turn? Who doesn’t! Make amend, apologies, pull yourself together, and move on. Brands grow and evolve, or they die.

Personal branding is not a one-off, it is layer-by-layer, it is incremental and sustainable.

Your brand or story does not have to fit the perfect heroes’ journey, whether you think you are at the highest pick of your career, or you keep finding new depths in hitting rock-bottom. Look at everything that has made you who you are as a unique asset of your personal brand. Own your story relentlessly.

Be yourself the rest is already taken. (Oscal Wilde)

9. It is not a race

Your brand is unique, there is no other person with the same blend of talents, passions, skills, knowledge, and fears. Copying, comparing, and scoring are addictive and corrosive, and can easily become a full-time job.

Yes, there is a marketing element of branding yourself, some might say we are all on a shelf next to very similar versions of ourselves, yet there is an element of uniqueness in each one of us, which is just irreplicable. It can be how you communicate, your empathy, your kindness, any talent, mania, or obsession, there is something that you are, that no one else has. Runners don’t waste their energies twisting their necks to look back, instead, they look ahead, moving closer and closer to achieving their next best personal record, everything else is secondary.

It is better to fail at being authentic than to succeed in imitation. (Herman Melville)

10. By design not by chance

Be intentional and purposeful about how you nourish and grow your personal brand. Make your personal brand a choice, not an accident. Connects the dots and the resources so that they can empower you and your choices. Be careful what you wish for, everything adds to your brand.

Personal branding 101, where to start:

Ready to jump on board the personal branding train? Here you can find some questions to get you started:

  • What do people know you for and what do you want to be known for?
  • What are you passionate about?
  • What are your strongest and weakest attributes (by the way, both are assets)?
  • How would you summarize your story in 2 minutes?
  • What are you ready to share and why?
  • What do you want to grow and why?
  • How do you stand out in a crowd? Why would you want to stand out from the crowd? And what crowd anyway?

Raw, unfiltered, honest answers (you can also ask your friends) will set the ground from which you can root and grow. Enjoy the journey.

Keep building on whatever makes your heart bit, the rest will follow, and if it doesn’t, you have your first fan right here. Thank you.

To indulge in more personal branding, here is the YT playlist I watched.

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Cristina Comunian

Cristina Comunian

Before the straightjacket feels comfortable again, I hit "publish".

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