Who cares about their personal brand? You might think it’s just one more thing to consider and you’ve enough going on already without adding that to your list. But read on.
Working on understanding a personal brand is definitely one of the most common themes that Clearbird works on with clients in its coaching and leadership programmes. It is a strengths-focused exercise. I used to be surprised by how few people really know want their strengths are and what their brand might be. But no more. The vast majority of people that I work with know what they do and what their technical skills are but they are unable to articulate their strengths clearly.
If you’re serious about having presence, creating impact and increasing visibility, understanding your personal brand is a core developmental point to focus on. Do you know what your brand is? Do you know what you want it to be? How might it be impacting your career progression and how can you use it to impact your positioning in the organisation?
In all of the research and writing around women in business and gender diversity, the theme of confidence and women needing to put themselves forward and raise their own profile comes up again and again. Understanding your personal brand is one component of taking ownership of your career and actively navigating your career forward. It’s about consciously putting the best version of yourself forward.
So what is a personal brand anyway?
Your personal brand is the essence of you. It’s your authentic self. We all have a personal brand whether we know what it is or not. As Jeff Bezos of Amazon said, “Your personal brand is what people say about after you leave the room”.
What are you known for? What is your reputation? (in the positive sense of the word!) It’s not just about what you do but how you do it and how you engage with others. So often we focus on what we need to do better and areas for development but it’s so important to focus on our strengths and make sure that we are putting them to work for us.
Once you know what it is, you can start to think about what you want it to be. When you step back, it may be that what worked until now is not what you need to move to the next level. What got you here won’t necessarily get you there. But more on that in a moment.
How do I know what my personal brand is?
There are two simple steps to figuring out what your own personal brand is:
1. Ask Yourself. 2. Ask others.
Easier said than done I know!
The first step is easy for some and hard for many! It’s about really focusing on your strengths and the positives. When you receive positive feedback, what do people say? Do you get feedback from clients, peers, managers? Often, we don’t even hear the positive feedback but will zoom in and magnify the constructive and developmental learnings.
Start to consciously focus on what you do and what you do well. Take a page and brainstorm out your skills and strengths – based on what you know about yourself and what you think other people’s perceptions of you are. Get into the habit of hearing the good stuff and really let it sink in.
The second step, to ask others, is challenging for most people and can make you feel very vulnerable. If you’re interested in really understanding your personal brand, what impact you have on other people and what you are known for, it is important to ask them.
This can be via an existing 360 tool that your company uses. Even better is to create an email or a simple survey monkey with 3-5 questions about yourself. An obvious question is ‘What are my strengths?’ Examples of less obvious questions are ‘What am I known for?’ or ‘What would you like me to know about myself?’ Many clients shudder at the thought of doing this exercise but for those that find the courage to do it, they find it to be self-affirming and confidence building. It all contributes to building your knowledge of yourself – which all serves in terms of driving your career forward.
Ok, you’re starting to get it. Now what?
Once you start to get a sense of your brand, take a step back and ask yourself is that what you really want to be known for. Again and again, I see female senior managers and above being proud of their reputation as a diligent worker and good team player. Great attributes but there comes a time in your career where you need to refocus and ask what is it about you that will help you get to the next level. When you look at leaders in your organisation, is this what they’re known for?
Or are leaders known for attributes such as building excellent relationships, leading the team with vision and clarity, bringing big picture thinking and strategic insights, empowering and developing talent?
If you’re feeling a bit stuck in your career, take the time to step back and give some thought to your personal brand. What is it now? And where do you need to move it to?
Once you’ve spent time really thinking about your brand, we’ll help you to think about how you can increase your visibility, impact and presence. One place to start is thinking about a potential career blind spot that you might have (read more).
Taking the time to stop, reflect, re-focus and re-energise will help you set yourself up to succeed. Contact us to find out more about our group and 1:1 coaching and mentoring programmes.
Helping you to find your mojo.
P. S. If this blog resonates with you or think it would resonate for someone you know, please like, share, tweet or forward on whatever media you like. E-mail is still good! I’d love to hear from you.