When I talk to business professionals about the importance of taking ownership of their personal brand, they frequently tell me that they are uncomfortable promoting themselves. Here’s the reality – if you don’t define your brand, someone else will. In the words of branding guru, William Arruda, “Personal branding is not about you. It’s about putting your stamp on the value you deliver to others.” The following are strategies for a non-self-aggrandizing approach to branding.
- What problem do you solve? Put a stake in the ground and let other know what problems you can help them solve. “Making promises and keeping them is a great way to build a brand,” says best-selling author, Seth Godin.
- Offer proof – You may excel as a project manager, marketer, scientist or astronaut but would anyone know? Sharing specific examples of some challenges you’ve faced, and what resulted from your efforts builds your credibility. Think PARS – what problem did you encounter, what actions did you take, what resulted and what strengths did you use?
- Eliminate superlatives – Statements like “proven track record,” “successful,” “accomplished,” and, “dedicated,” to name a few, are empty words. Don’t take up precious space or time bandying them about.
- Create content – One of the best ways to establish your brand is to write or speak about what you know. With content creation tools such as LinkedIn’s publishing platform or YouTube so readily available, there are many ways in which you can share your passion and knowledge with your audience. “Even if you don’t have 10,000 readers, it’s an invaluable form of credibility when a potential client mentions a problem they’re having, and you can tell her, “I just wrote a piece about that — let me send it to you,” says writer and speaker, Dorie Clark.
- Seek feedback – You may think you know yourself, but others may see you differently. Colleagues, managers, and even family members have seen you in action and can help you reflect on your capabilities. A more accurate measure of your value is the perception held by others. Ask trusted members of your network for an example of when they’ve seen you at your best and the strengths they noticed you using. To your surprise, you may find that you overlooked a quality that someone else recognized.
- Show your personality – What sets you apart from the thousands of others in your field? Have you lived on three continents in seven countries, like one of my clients? If you have, how might your global perspective contribute to a client or employer? Your branding is more than a collection of facts. It’s an opportunity to express your passion and own your differentiation.
Personal branding is not about bragging or being self-absorbed. It means being introspective so you can become clear about what makes you relevant and compelling to people who are making decisions about you.
Susan Peppercorn is the CEO of Positive Workplace Partners, a career inspiration platform. She is a Reach Certified Branding Specialist and the author of Ditch Your Inner Critic at Work: Letting Go of Perfection to Thrive in Your Career, to be published in spring 2017.