I've discussed this before. Whether you like it or not, you already have a personal brand. And if you're not comfortable with the term personal brand, then call it a reputation or impression. You are revealing something about yourself all the time, from your next post on social media to when you open your mouth at a cocktail reception. The sum of those moments, over time, leaves an impression online and in-person about who you are and what is most important to you, such as your values and your interests. The question is, what kind of impression are you making? And are you happy with it, or do you want to change it up for the sake of securing better career options and/or clients more aligned with your interests?
One way to begin this route of self-discovery is to step outside of yourself and to do an honest self-assessment, an audit. Let's begin online, with a Google search, which is what most people do before they meet you (whether they admit it or not). Type your name into the Google search
bar. What comes up in the search results? Does your name even register on there, or are all the results pulling up someone with the same moniker with a propensity for sharing cat GIFs? Look under images - what kind of pictures of yourself show up on there? Are you happy with how they look?
Next, move onto your social media. Try to step outside of yourself, as if you were a stranger who had stumbled upon your profiles. What kind of themes emerge from your posts? What type of content do you typically post? What kind of subject matter? Are you the type of person who likes to share a lot of news articles? Do you even post, or are you a lurker, someone who prefers to comment, share or react to other people's content? What kind of profile picture do you use? Is it of yourself, your kids, or a cartoon? Note all of this down; don't make any judgments.
Finally, consider what kind of impression you are making in-person. When you're at a networking event, how do you typically introduce yourself, when someone asks you about yourself? Do you have trouble with that introduction? What do you typically say in the first sentence? You want to keep it short and sweet, because most people are going to tune out after about 20 seconds. Are you doing anything to grab their attention from the outset, so that they remember you?
Check in with your friends and family. If they could describe you in 10 adjectives, what would they say? And again, keep your emotions in check through this process. You are information gathering, not passing judgments on the feedback.
Once you have completed this whole process, analyze the audit. Bring on the judging. Based on all of this information, what kind of profiles emerges about you and the kind of person you are, as well as what is important to you? Does this match up to the impression that you would like to be making? And if not, what kind of adjustments can you start making online and in-person to change that?
This is an important step in your personal branding and don't worry if you don't like the results! This is your chance to change all that, putting you in control. More to come on this in next week's newsletter - stay tuned.