Right right. Me neither.
Personal branding is important.
It just is.
Mark Bowden is the one who made me realize that, and I’m here to explain a not-cringe way you can prioritize your personal brand in a powerful way.
First, the why.
Why do Personal Branding?
Personal branding is important for a few reasons:
1. It strengthens your professional identity and, by extension, all of your business activities
BUT I think the second reason is more important…
2. It gives you a space somewhere in you professional life to express yourself
Back in the day, in the corporate world, we plastered on smiles, talked about the weather, and pretended like we didn’t have kids or problems.
Nowadays, we have a lot more freedom to be authentic. In fact, people prefer it.
Personal branding is a place where you aren’t simply reposting company content or regurgitating company rhetoric. Even if those two things are valuable and inherently good, they aren’t yours. But what is yours is your personal professional identity, and that also deserves some moments of visibility.
It’s important that you express yourself. You spend most of your life working. And you probably spend very little time thinking your own thoughts. Personal branding carves out some allocated space for you to come up with your own ideas and launch your own messaging.
Here’s the table I use in my coaching on this:
Your company’s brand
Very specific to the company/industry
Multi - disciplinary/broad
Specific to you
Single discipline (or your specialty)
3. It attracts a community
There is perhaps nothing I treasure more in my professional life than the relationships I’ve built. Stacy. Alex. Erin. Georgie. Franco. These people (and a bunch more) have become dear friends who I know and love and connect with on a regular basis. Mostly because I am myself, and show up as myself, at work. That’s personal branding.
Okay, if you remain unconvinced I take it personally and please leave my blog.
If you are convinced, here’s how you go about finding out who you want to be.
Elements of a Personal Brand
There are a few elements of a personal brand. This can be a very powerful small group activity or discussion, or a chance to engage in some self-reflection.
I understand it’s all fairly existential, but there’s a reason behind each category of ideas. The sum answer of all of these will comprise the microbranding and macrobranding you put out into the webverse.
Who are you?
This is, yes, abstract. But leave it that simple. What comes to mind?
What are some themes of your life or professional identity?
Think it through - what experiences have gotten you to where you are? What are the big commonalities of those experiences or your responses to them?
Provide some statements that sum up who you are and the impact you hope to have.
(These can be adjective-heavy/descriptive and don’t need to be complete sentences)
When are you at your social best?
Where do you feel you thrive?
What is your energy like/how would people describe your personality?
This needs to get expressive and will help you nail down a little more of the “where” when it comes to how you put your personal branding out into the world.
What do you like?
Yes, that simple. Dogs? Ceramics? Running? It’s the bridge between the personal and professional, and it’s important that you think about the totality of your identity, not arbitrarily demarcated once you log off of work every day.
What are your big ideas, professionally and personally?
This is where you start to dream. If you wrote a book, what would it be about? If you did a TED Talk, what would it cover? List your big ideas. This is a helpful jump start if you want to organize content creation around your own ideas.
AREA OF IMPACT/KEY PLATFORM IDENTIFICATION
Where are you comfortable sharing? What spaces are you drawn to?
You don’t have to be everywhere. Personal branding is just that: personal. Go where you want to go. Do what you want to do.
A Final Pitch for Personal Branding
At the end of the day, you can remain quiet. You can remain private. And personal branding doesn’t mean you want to be an influencer or that you are on some kind of ego-trip.
Rather, it’s a way to honor yourself. To acknowledge that you have inherent worth and value. To remember that you spend a lot of your life working, and you want to be true to yourself as you do it.
A bit mushy at the end there.