It’s no surprise to any of you that we live in a highly connected, 24×7 digital world. This world and some other personal development activities in recent years have forced me be much more considered and purposeful about my personal brand and my digital footprint. I took deliberate action some years ago, and through some trial, error and guidance have developed a relatively strong brand, voice and online persona. I am often asked about what I do and how I do it to enhance my brand and my digital presence. This article is a quick run down and a set of curated articles and tips to help you get on your way.
Why develop a personal brand?
I am the CEO of my own company… Michelle Redfern Inc. (actually I do have my own company but lets pretend I don’t!) Any CEO worth their salt knows their product, their market, their value proposition and sets the agenda for the company brand awareness and equity. So on that basis, get used to the fact that you are a brand. Ask yourself this. Is your personal brand being defined by you? Or are you allowing your brand to be determined by others? Brand or be branded! (Google your own name and see what comes up. Like what you see? If not, read on!)
READ: HANDY HINT #1
Michelangelo said, “Every block of stone has a statue inside it, and it is the task of the sculptor to discover it.”
The same is true with your personal brand. You don’t create your personal brand. You already have one, and it’s your job to reveal it and make it shine.
What is a personal brand?
Personal branding has a myriad of definitions. One is “Personal branding is a marketing strategy focused on your most important product: you.” Think about these kick arse names:
Beyonce, Richard Branson, Michelle Obama, Oprah Winfrey, Jamie Oliver, Naomi Simson
Each of these people have a strong personal brand, have established a credible, memorable face to their company or cause beyond their initial area of expertise or sphere of influence. Their name is their brand, not their job description (does Beyonce have a job description?)
My own definition for personal branding is a set of questions:
- What do people think about when they hear or see your name?
- Are there subjects that you want people to associate with your name?
- How do you want to be perceived in your chosen market (note: your market can be the organisation you work for)
- What do I want to be known for?
- What do I stand for?
Ask each of those questions for the power brands above then ask them of yourself.
Your brand is your calling card. Once you understand how you wish your brand to be perceived, you can start to be much more strategic about your personal brand. In the meantime:
READ: HANDY HINT #2
Be Yourself, Everyone Else Is Taken!
How to start developing your personal brand
Mindset is absolutely the key to this exercise. You are cultivating your brand every, single, day….even if you don’t realise it. The way you think, speak, communicate, write (including posting on social media) all add up to the overall impression you create…ie: your personal brand. The power rests with you as to whether you cultivate or not. I’ll assume that if you are reading this article, you’re serious about your brand. If you’re not, close this window now!
The first step in the personal branding process is to spend time figuring out who you really are and what you want from your life. Often, this self-analysis is the hardest part. Why don’t you ask some trusted colleagues and friends to describe you in one word? Make a list and more often than not you’ll see a pattern emerge. Discovering your authentic self is the key.
Another easy, non-threatening tool is the Johari Window. Try it here. I used the tool along with the Gallup Strengths Finder a while back to start understanding myself, what I did best, why and what others thought of me to create a congruent, aligned self-belief for my personal brand development exercise.
Questions you can ask yourself:
- Identify your top five values and why they are your values
- What are your favourite five words to describe yourself?
- What do you want said about you when you are not in the room?
Marketing Brand You!
Be purposeful about this step. Your personal brand is housed in what you say, in person, online, in emails. It is housed in how you present yourself at work, at play, in fact anywhere. Every meeting you are in, every function you attend, every email you send, every tweet you compose, every status update you make, every picture you share, contributes to your personal brand. So my advice is to start being aware and mindful of what image you are cultivating. Be strategic about Brand You!
Take some simple first steps.
- Rewrite your CV now!
- Develop a killer LinkedIn profile!
- Use Social Media wisely (if you don’t think your employer, clients or recruiters check your twitter or Facebook…think again!)
READ: HANDY HINT #5
Personal branding is such an interesting subject and like many others aspects of professional and personal development, is a never-ending, evolving and, if you choose it to be, rewarding and enjoyable part of life. This quick read isn’t meant to take the place of the deep work you can do, it is simply a set of thoughts and actions to start you off.
If you want to know more about this fascinating subject and you are in Melbourne, subscribe to hear more about Mentoring2Thrive, my bespoke mentoring program for women where all sorts of topics such as personal branding are covered.
Michelle is an astute businesswoman & keen entrepreneur who has founded a business to advise women about how to shatter the glass ceiling & be successful, in whatever way they define success. Founded by a woman, run by women, for women and the organisations that employ women. Michelle is a coach, mentor, consultant, runs events & speaks about her vision to create a gender equal world. Michelle’s business supports, advocates, activates and champions women of all ages and stages.