Personal branding is about the emotional connection you have with people. It has to do with their perception of you. We often don't realise the importance of managing our personal brand or of taking care of the small things that count when it comes to how people see you, such as responding timeously and courteously to emails and messages; arriving at interviews and meetings on time; and dressing appropriately. It is about how you respond to situations, and even how you say things, which, surprisingly, is often more important than what you say. It is even about how you approach people as most will react to you based on how you present yourself.
Personal branding starts with your personal values: what is important to you, what your views are, and how you see the world. Being consistent and living those values on a daily basis is what gives you credibility. It's about being aware of what your attitude is toward life and how you deal with situations, both good and bad.
Ultimately, it is your unique promise of value and how you project yourself that underpins your personal brand.
If you're not sure about how to go about creating your personal brand, try answering the following questions:
- Do you understand what values are important to you? Consider values such as honesty, integrity and originality as examples.
- Do you understand what your purpose is? For example, what value do you add to other people or organisations?
- What would you like people to say about you when you leave the room?
- Have you found out what your passion is, and do you do your best to get involved in what you love?
- Can you, in a few words, describe who you are – what you stand for and what makes you stand out?
- Do you appreciate your uniqueness and do you illustrate that uniqueness on a continual basis?
- Do you understand your role in your environment, as an employee, colleague, son, daughter, friend, brother, sister and so forth. How would you like others to view you?
- Have you decided what is important to you? Once you understand that, you then need to create a brand that will enable you to achieve those goals.
- Are you authentic while you search for your identity and meaning in life? Your personal brand should always reflect your true character.
- Do you give back? Find a cause you are passionate about as this assists with building your brand.
- Do you continually invest in yourself and your professional growth?
- Do you use your network to grow your brand and allow others to help you create new opportunities?
Once you have all these answers, try living your brand on a daily basis. Never forget that every touch point you have with all your stakeholders leaves an impression. You therefore need to decide what to leave behind. Living in today's digitally driven environment requires you to manage your brand both on- and offline. Don't underestimate the power of the social media.
Your brand is visible to everybody, even when you think you're just communicating with your friends and family. Technology enables others to have some idea of your personal brand even before you've had face-to-face contact. Just consider how much of an understanding a recruitment agency, for example, has of you through technology, even before they've met you.
Most importantly, don't forget that your brand is on show 24/7, so guard it and nurture it!
To sum up:
- Personal branding is the emotional connection you have with people.
- It's the little things that count when it comes to personal branding.
- Creating your own personal brand starts with understanding your values.
- Once you understand your personal values, try to live them on a daily basis.
- Your personal brand is always on show, so nurture it.
Belinda Wagner is a faculty member at USB-ED, external facilitator, life coach, consultant, lecturer, mentor and supervisor. Her fields of interest are marketing, coaching and personal development.