Your personal brand—how you appear to colleagues, associates, friends, supervisors, clients and the world-at-large—is something of which you should always be cognizant. Mannerisms, body language, dress, sense of humor and how you project yourself feed into your personal brand, and as 2017 approaches, it is a great time to evaluate your personal brand and explore how you’d like it to evolve for the New Year.
Your brand is a reflection of who you are, and authenticity is key to projecting a personal brand that connects with others. The phrase, “you be you” is never more appropriate than when you take a look at your personal brand. You never want to appear artificial to others; embrace what makes you stand out. Think of entrepreneurs or personalities with personal brands that you respect and admire, and examine the channels they pursue and how they project themselves.
Everyone is good at something, and chances are, in your professional life, you are a subject matter expert at something. Building upon your knowledge, passions and even your hobbies; your personal brand can develop by sharing that expertise with the world. Blogging, speaking engagements, video how-tos, participating on panels and giving interviews are examples of sharing and building your personal brand in an authentic way. In the beginning, you won’t be a keynote speaker, but by creating and curating your audience over time, you will not only build up your comfort level, but become more adept at responding to feedback, answering questions and learning to anticipate what your audience wants; whether it is through a comments section or through an end-of-session Q&A.
Building relationships is also an integral piece of building a strong personal brand. Your credibility and trustworthiness amplify with good word-of-mouth, and creating mutually beneficial business and personal relationships will help gain referrals, build your network and give you a launching point. It is, however, always good to remember the give-and-take of professional relationships: if someone gives you a glowing recommendation on LinkedIn or makes a key introduction for you, be sure to remember it, thank the person and return the favor.
In the age of social media, your personal brand is projected online almost as much, if not more so, than in person. Be sure the person you are projecting to your fans, followers and online audiences is true to you, but respectful of others. Monitoring your online presence, especially in today’s digital age, is important to maintain the integrity of your personal brand. Google yourself every so often, and be sure, if you have a blog, website or other social media channels where you invite conversation, that you respond to your audiences in a timely and respectful manner and keep your information current, including your headshot, bio and professional and nonprofit affiliations.
Lastly, remember that your personal brand, much like yourself, is constantly shifting and evolving. You are not the same person you were ten years ago, and your personal brand should reflect your maturation, evolution and development.
As Tom Peters, co-author of “In Search of Excellence,” once said, “All of us need to understand the importance of branding. We are CEOs of our own companies: Me, Inc. To be in business today, our most important job is to be head marketer for the brand called you.”