Call it a personal brand, professional image, perception from others, or whatever you like
Whether you are aware of it or not, people have a view of you!
In the modern world, no longer is your personal brand separated from the professional. Or not by much, anyway. Interestingly, when researching this topic online, the vast majority of the themes and threads related to branding focus on Social Media, recruitment, and your online image.
There may not be much difference between personal and professional branding. Your professional brand is what matters to a potential employer, networking contact, or anyone who can help you find a job or grow your career. It’s more than a case of making sure your personal brand reflects who are as a person. It’s also making sure that the information available about you online is visible, available, and relevant – to where you are in your career and where you want to go next. (1) It is the professional world that is commonly emphasised as it has so much bearing on your current and future employment options.
That does not mean that you can’t impact your personal brand. The key point is to acknowledge that your brand exists in the first place.
Broad access to Social Media and technology has contributed to the limited separation between how we are seen in our private and business roles. Either way, it is your personal brand that is the baseline for other people’s perception of you. The challenge is that the two very much work hand-in-hand.
Both matter, of course. But only as much as your ability to genuinely portray yourself in such a way that people respect and relate to.
Competence, beliefs, relationships, politics and other variables affect your ability to build a strong brand. You do not have control over every one of these inputs. But, you do have control over developing a deeper set of skills when working with, influencing and communicating with others.
As mentioned earlier, I believe that a personal brand is a key to how others see you. This includes behaviours, communication, influencing skills, leadership capability and similar attributes.
How you make people feel is so very important to building and sustaining a strong image and brand.
There are no short-cuts. There doesn’t need to be! For those of us who are serious about the perception we create with others, the sincere and purposeful approach to working with people matters in all that we do. People cannot ‘fake’ the building of a strong image.
The next step is to deliberately influence the messages you are delivering. When coaching and working with my clients over the last decade or so, I have learned a few things about perception and brand.
- Don’t be obsessive about it. You cannot and do not need to try to influence every person’s view of you. It is impossible! So, focus on what you can control.
- Empathy is a very important trait and skill. Take into account other people’s perspective. The ultimate empathy position is applied when you step into another person’s shoes. Standing where they stand, seeing what they see and hearing what they hear. Understanding other perspectives and points of view assists you to garner their support and reach mutually beneficial outcomes. Related to empathy is the ability to possess a giving and caring nature.
- Know your values. However, understanding why they matter so much to you provides the most beneficial insight. The connection between values and branding is strong. If you don’t see how contact me to discuss further.
- Communication: make your point clearly and listen effectively. Listening and questioning are two of the most under-utilised skills when building trust and respect. However, deep and effective communication skills are essential in leadership, relationships and building a strong personal brand.
- Improve yourself through self-development. The best way to sustain a long and worthwhile career is to never stop learning. Be active in seeking development opportunities through relevant new networks, existing relationships, and membership associations.
Developing your personal brand requires effort and desire. The first step, however, is to recognise that you have a brand. Once identified, the benefits, confidence and value gained is a powerful combination.
Now is a good time for your to consider how others see you. Take a few minutes to consider, what is your personal brand and does it represent all that you would like it to?
(1) How To Create a Professional Brand: http://jobsearch.about.com/od/careeradviceresources/a/profbrand.htm