Personal Branding: You Are Your Brand

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Brand specialists, coaches and designers often talk about branding your business, and while business branding is absolutely my jam, I also want to talk about something I think is just as significant - Personal Branding.

What do I mean by Personal Branding? You may have your own business or perhaps a 9-5 job in an organisation, so you might think personal branding is not for you. Trust me, it is. You are most likely engaging in personal branding activities without even realising. Think about when you post images on your Instagram - even quotes and product images - it all somehow says something about who you are, wether you want it to or not. Regardless of your job and your intention, YOU are a product and also a service. I don't say that to sound crass or to make you feel objectified or anything like that - the opposite: I want you to understand how truly valuable you are!

We all know that every person has a unique identity. Things that make them who they are and equally, things that they clearly aren't and won't stand for. These are elements of your personal brand, and it is really just touching the surface. You personal brand includes everything from what you wear and how you talk, to the images you display, the way you make people feel and your daily life and business systems and process. You are, in essence, your own brand.

Here's the thing. People like people that they can relate to and they trust people that they can sense are being 100% themselves. It's one of those weird sixth sense things, but people can smell authenticity a mile away. When someone relates to you and trusts you - you can literally sell them anything! Being really clear on who you are, what your personal brand is and what you stand for is a sure fire way to land that job, make those sales and most importantly, make a real impact on the lives of others! Good personal branding comes hand-in-hand with success and I want to share with you today strategies you can employ to develop your brand identity and how to 'package' yourself in a way that communicates who you are, who you want to be and everything in between!

YOUR PERSONAL MISSION STATEMENT

Before you do anything else, consider developing your own personal mission statement. Being really clear about who you are and what you stand for is the best way to lay the foundations for a strong personal brand. Ask yourself questions like:

  • What do you really like to do? What makes you feel invigorated and alive? These are things you really should be doing more of and definitely the things you should be putting at the forefront of your personal brand! Think about your skills and your passions - be honest about how good you are at those things! Consider if there is something you would like to improve with and consider taking a class!
  • Think also about the people you admire, what qualities do you admire about them? Can you learn anything from these people that will help you to become more of your desired self?

Think about what words you would use to describe yourself. Not sure? Why not open this question to your Facebook friends or community too! Doing it this way keeps them accountable - they are less likely to have a laugh by posting something nasty if their name is attached to it! This can help you to identify how you perceive yourself (or even, how you want to perceive yourself) and any gaps between your list of words and the words of others. Think about how you can bridge any gaps that bother you, look for trends and commonalities between your self-perceived words and the words of others and also be open to words others use that you may not have related to in the past, especially if they are reoccurring. You never know, you may learn something about yourself along the way!

Finally, you most likely have a resume and that is super necessary but try your hand at writing a short bio too. Think of this as your elevator pitch; so if you were in an elevator with a stranger and they said "who are you?" (firstly, I know, that would be weird and you'd be like "eek! stalker!", but run with me!), what would you tell them? It should be one to two paragraphs and to the point, stating who you are, what you do and what your mission is! You can also include your education, achievements and aspirations. Whatever it is, it should be clear, concise and it should enrapture who you are and what you're about!

YOUR UNIQUE VOICE

Know your voice and actively assess the way you speak. I think it's best to keep this flowing into your online persona as it comes across far more authentically. Sometimes I read things on the internet and wonder to myself how that person could possibly speak like this in real life. It feels wrong and so I don't really trust the person who is speaking to me.

To practice writing in your own voice, rather than writing in words you think people want to hear or expect of you, consider the following:

  • Read your written word back to yourself. You will be able to tell instantly if it sounds like you or if it's laboured and awkward.
  • Use a dictaphone - the Dragon Dictation app for iPhone is perfect - and speak your message first before typing it down.

You won't have to take these measures forever. Slowly your voice will start shining through automatically and you won't need to think about whether or not it sounds like you or a stranger!

DEVELOP YOUR WEBSITE

Consider creating a website for YOU rather than for your business. It doesn't need to have a blog component, perhaps it's a portfolio website that showcases who you are, what you're about and all the while, making that mission statement loud and clear! It might not even be more than one page, but it should clearly define your style and aesthetic and of course, show a photo or two of you!

Following on from the website, it is a good idea to have a LinkedIn profile too. Enter in as much detail as you can and while you don't need to update it regularly, having this information in one place is a must!

YOUR IMAGES AND THE IMAGE OF YOU

I believe that personal branding extends to your wardrobe too, to take a minute to consider your personal image. This might be controversial but I honestly believe that the way you dress and the environment you live and work in really does impact on your personal brand. While I don't think you need to rock around in 'brand colours' all the time, I think if you were honest with yourself and really thought about what makes you happy (and let's face it, a happy you is an authentic you) then you would notice that you are drawn to particular colours and styles. I say, nurse this and develop your sense of style as a deliberate act of personal branding!

Let's also think about YOU on social media, showing your face and putting as much effort into how you look and are perceived as you put into those 'artistic flat lays of your coffee cup and book nestled in your bedcovers that tell the story of your relaxing Sunday morning' is a must! The Think Creative Collection blog outlines why seeing your face is so important and I tend to agree. I want to know who YOU are and what your pretty face looks like and while selfie city is not somewhere I want to be all the time, I enjoy getting a glimpse of who you are visually!

But the images of you that you share on social media isn't the only important image related aspect to consider! The images of other things that you share on social media is also really important. Think about your interests, your broader missions and align them with images you're displaying.

CONNECTING AND NETWORKING

Get onto social media, even if you only use it for 'business' purposes, ensure that the way you are interacting is on point for your personal brand too. This also flows into what companies you work for and/or how you develop your business brand - make sure you are never compromising your personal brand to fit a corporate or business brand. At the end of the day, if the two aren't compatible, you are probably in the wrong job.

Build your network both in and out of the office. For small business owners and bloggers, this might be spending time on social media in Facebook communities for example, but it can also include physical networking events, clubs, societies and conferences. I recently joined the Australian Business Chicks community after attending their 9 to Thrive Expo and it opened my eyes up to how valuable this kind of interaction is in developing my personal brand. People got to meet ME rather than just seeing my logo and display picture on social media and it gave me a chance to really evaluate if my personal brand and business brand were aligning!

The last thing I want to mention is that perfection is a process. So I really want to highlight that you don't need all the answers and the ones you do have are in no way set in stone! Give yourself the room to develop and grow and be prepared to reexamine your response to these cues again and again throughout your life!

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I HAVE A SPECIAL DOWNLOAD FOR YOU!

I want to help you develop your personal brand! I honestly believe it is super important, and so, I have created a free workbook just for you! Download and print it or use it on your computer. I guarantee it will give you clarity!

DOWNLOAD YOUR PERSONAL BRANDING WORKBOOK NOW!