When I think of personal branding this Chinese proverb comes to mind.
“The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago. The second best time is now.”
To me, it conveys that you can’t build a personal brand without concerted effort, commitment and consistency. And it is never too late to start. In an earlier blog post I wrote on on personal branding Manoj wasn’t sure what he needed to do to stand apart in an increasingly competitive world. There is a way. Manoj can still build a reputation that holds him in good stead over the years.
Hearing that your employees are interested in differentiating themselves is a positive sign. It indicates that your employees are:
- ready to promote themselves, if they aren’t already
- they see value in extending their value beyond the organizational boundaries
- they believe the organization can help them succeed in this initiative
As William Arruda points out – personal branding is not about you but about others. I love the tips he shares on situations where you can leave your mark and gradually build your brand.
So what prevents people from building their personal brands? To begin, most aren’t sure what they want to convey or stand for. Articulating your mission is essentially the first step on your journey. Communicating that mission consistently is helpful to take your brand to the next level.
Why is this relevant for internal communicators?
Like it or not, employees are already presenting and promoting themselves outside the organization in many ways – social networks, offline connections, with alumni, as CSR volunteers, as speakers at forums.
Today, there are no jobs for life and employees realize the importance of crafting a ‘second’ career before or right after the current one ends. With more and more automation coming into the workplaces employees will look for ways to invest in their own future. In a way, organizations of the future will be an amalgamation of brands. Internal communicators will need to realign their practices to make them more inclusive for such brands inside the organization.
Traditionally, people who think of a personal brand see it as a social media outreach program or a networking and relationships building exercise. However here are a few tips to get started in your personal branding journey using social media.
Personal branding isn’t easy.
If you are expecting to build a brand overnight you might also be mindful that it can also vanish likewise.
Look around at the number of cases we hear of accomplished people who fail and fall after building brands over many years – Tiger Woods, Lance Armstrong etc. You can also see how brands suffered by associating with these personalities.
So how can you build your personal brand?
Be mindful – knowing yourself first and how you can add value to the world is your starting point. Stay close to your core and know what makes you tick. Very often, we get enamored by the latest trend or what our colleagues, families or neighbors expect of us. No two lives are alike and therefore no two personal brands can ever be the same.
Be focused – distractions are everywhere and moving your eyes of the goal is the beginning of the end of your journey. Often, we look for short term gains since that is visible and makes us feel great. A personal brand is built over time and requires commitment and laser sharp focus.
Be consistent – look around you and it is evident that we seek stability in people and events. We look for those who are reliable and respected. This confidence allows us to put our faith and hope in their abilities. Therefore consider ways in which you can bring in more consistency in your actions.
Be resilient – it isn’t easy navigating the world and what it has to offer. There will be highs and lows. How we react to situations defines who we are. How we bounce back from the lows in our lives redefines us. Your personal brand is shaped by these experiences. So have faith and stay on course.
Building a personal brand is a lot to do with knowing how your self-identity and the organization’s identity (if you work for one) interact. Also appreciating that in a world which puts pressure on people to compete or creates the ‘fear of missing out’ staying grounded about your goals can take you places.
I thought this quote by author and playright Oscar Wilde summed up personal branding well – “be yourself, everyone else is already taken”.
If you have other perspectives and lessons do share them here.