You’ve got to build your brand.
Your brand is everything.
Act like a person, think like a brand.
Personal branding has been the talk of the town. Whether you’re a blogger, writer, job seeker, or whatever, you need to develop your brand. At least that’s what some folks believe. I happen to be one of them.
But there’s a large group of people that are tired of hearing about personal branding. They find it overrated, cliche, and a punch to the gut of real talent. Something limited to talentless bloggers with big personalities but no real skill other than having a big social media following. Or folks running around with business cards promoting a business with a janky website and yahoo email address. They see branding as something that should be left to big companies and their products.
What Is Personal Branding? Or Branding in General for That Matter?
Branding isn’t just a word to describe how a company markets itself or what a blogger does to build buzz when they have no discernible talent. It’s a word to describe how people perceive you. What comes to mind when they hear your name or see your face? How do you make them feel? How do they speak of you?
To me, (personal) brand is just a fancy word for reputation. And there’s no doubt about the fact that reputation matters. If a bad one precedes you, you miss out on potential opportunities and connections. If it’s good and consistent, people want to meet and work with you. Let me give you a few examples of how poor and inconsistent branding impacts people every day.
Job Seeker Agnes applies for a job and the hiring manager sees she’s worked at a company where he has a good friend. He phones his friend to see if this person knows anything about her. The friend says he didn’t work with Agnes directly, but heard she was difficult to work with and had inconsistent performance. Trusting the words of his friend, he decides not to interview her.
Antoine is an independent Marketing Consultant. He’s been slow responding to a few of his clients and not delivered what he said he would. One of his client’s friends is looking for someone to help get their marketing efforts off the ground. The friend asks the client who she works with. The client says she’s working with Antoine but wouldn’t recommend him because he’s over-promised and under-delivered on the engagement. The client’s friend chooses not to contact Antoine.
Leon is a blogger with a big social media following. A company is looking for a blogger to promote a product that Leon would love to have access to. They go to his website and see honey bunches of typos and that he’s been hostile in his response to commenters that disagree with him. They then see that his Twitter images consist of scantily clad women with inappropriate captions beneath them. The company chooses to find another blogger to associate their product with.
Rufus applies for a job and lists his social media profiles and website on his application. The recruiter checks his LinkedIn and sees it lists a completely different set of skills. She goes to his website and while we’ll-written, it’s all about politics and has some pretty extreme views. The recruiter gets confused about who Rufus is (and why his momma gave him that name) and marks his application for rejection.
I could go on with these examples for days. The point is that perception is everything…including your brand. And because you don’t pay attention to it or ensure it’s consistent, you could be costing yourself opportunities and not even know it. Everything you do on social media and in real life is a reflection of who you are. It’s a reflection of your brand, whether you like it or not. You don’t have to be a square, but there are things people should be able to expect from you. The great part is that you have the power to control it and change it from what it is today.
It’s time to embrace that you have a personal brand to manage. What image are you putting out there? How are you conveying who you are to the world at large? Do you think there are things people consistently say about or expect from you today? If so, what are they?
Don’t be fake. Just be your best. Brand matters.