Work-Life 5/14/2015

5 Ways To Put The Person in Personal Branding by Leslie Juvin-Acker

The phrase “personal branding” has been so overused that it hardly feels personal anymore. Check out five ways to put the person back into personal branding and build more authentic relationships and a meaningful career.

1.    Let It Go And Act Natural

No, not that awfully catchy cartoon song. Let go of whatever you think you should be or have to have and allow who you really are shine. Acting natural, believe it or not, is not very natural to most people. A personal brand isn’t about forcing things or relationships to happen, but instead letting your message appeal to the people or groups that understand you without having to overtly explain yourself. When this happens, career frustrations and blocks seem to fall away and your natural relationships will seem to blossom on their own. When we’re at most ease with ourselves, the doors to growth opportunities appear and open effortlessly.

2. You Can Do It - But You Can’t Do Everything

As the old saying goes, we can’t make everyone happy. That goes with your own positioning in the job market and what goes on your resume. There are a million jobs out there, but only one that’s right for you. What are your strengths? What are the specific skills and knowledge areas that you have to offer? To whom? We can’t do everything, so specialization is the key to personal branding: by knowing what you’re good at and where you shine, it’s easier to tell your story and find places to fit in.

3. Trust Is Saying One Thing A Million Different Ways

A personal brand boils down to trust. It’s what creates a solid foundation that people can rely on when things get confusing or when the future seems unclear. Trust takes time to build through consistency and persistence. It means saying the same things in a million different ways. In other words, let everything you do have the same fundamental message. Resumes are clear when we do a variety of different projects with the same general message of growth. Bosses, clients, and colleagues can count on you to help them through challenging times and they’re more willing to go along with you in the face of change. Persistent consistency builds lasting trust.

4. Nurture Yourself And See What Grows

Building a personal brand takes work: work on yourself. Building a brand around service to others doesn’t mean giving ourselves until it hurts. It’s a balancing act that helps us nurture ourselves, work on existing and develop new skills, and grow to be the best people and professionals possible. This includes adjusting our paradigms about our work relationships, the kind of work we do and the value we create, and what kind of satisfaction we attain through our work. When we take the time to reflect - through breaks, vacation, and personal time - we afford ourselves the opportunity to see our work with fresh eyes and a newfound sense of understanding that we can share.

5. Creating Positive Change Through A Personal Brand

A personal brand isn’t some perfectly polished image where everything about us is flawless. We’re human and we make mistakes. Knowing our strengths comes out of the process of acknowledging our weaknesses and failures and choosing to do differently. This process is called positive change and makes our story even more intriguing. Overcoming our personal and professional obstacles can be daunting, especially in the face of so much competition, but it can be done in small, workable steps. People love to hear success stories where people humbly overcome their adversities. If you don’t like your current personal brand, you can change it - and as a result, how people see you. Once again, persistence consistency is the key to positive change.

Stay Focused & Know Thyself

With so many others out there doing their own thing - some succeeding and others flailing - it’s possible to get distracted and try to copy others who seem to be more successful. My advice is to avoid this because the authentic you can get lost in the noise of distraction. Take stock of your strengths and get to know those employers who appreciate you for you and the specific skills sets and knowledge you have to share.

Know thyself is the best and most succinct advice on branding - know what works, what doesn’t, when to dig in and stand your ground, and when to step back to regain perspective. By trusting your authentic self, people will see that and trust it, too.

Questions To Ask

1.    What are my strongest job skills, personality traits, and areas of expertise?

2.    Who seems to appreciate me the most? Can I list any specific business associates, companies, of clients?

3.    What are the things I think I should have or be in my career? What expectations do I hold about myself and my career? Do they help me for frustrate me?

4.    When do I take the time to nurture myself? Do I take vacations or breaks to reflect on what I’ve accomplished and unwind the stress that has built up?

5.    What does my personal brand say about me? Do others trust me? Why/why not?

6.    What mistakes or failures have I made? What can I learn that can help me evolve my brand or help others?

7.    What values do I know about myself as a professional to be true (and hope others see)?