WTF is a Personal Brand and Why Should You Care?
Two weeks ago, I quit my job. Within hours of making that announcement public, I had an inbox of messages from peers, former co-workers, friends, and friends-of-friends. I had soft leads and hard leads. I had opportunities for collaboration, recommendations, and inquiries coming my way. But, why? I had been neck deep in agency work for nearly three years. Many of those projects had yet to hit the light of day, and most of them weren’t particularly buzz-worthy. Not to say they weren’t good. They were damn good. Maybe even brilliant. But creating a modern, bold and strikingly human consumer brand out of copy machines + document management software wasn’t the kind of thing you wrote home about. At least not for most people.
So, what was it? My portfolio was a century old. Most of my work had crept out into the world under the cloak of night. So, why? Why recommend me to your clients? Why offer to publish me in your magazine? Why entrust your brand to me? I can tell you why: the power of a strong personal brand.
I made a decision early on in my career to shout from the rooftops. I had ideas. I had visions. I had goals. I moved fearlessly into the monastery of creativity. And I told everyone I met. That is advertising. That is brand recognition and organic engagement. Or, it’s just living your life. Two sides of the same side coin.
So, what is your personal brand? It’s what people remember about you when you walk away. It’s what people think about you when you aren’t around. It’s what people say about you when you can’t hear them. And they learn all of these things from you. Which means, if you’re savvy, you can control all of these things. You define your personal brand.
Here are some tips for defining and managing your personal brand on the internet and in life:
+ Set some goals. Create a list of adjectives that you would want people to use to describe you. Mine would be: creative, quirky, kind, fierce, reliable, professional. Now make sure everything you post on social supports these goals.
+ Treat social media like real life and vice versa. Don’t say things online that you wouldn’t say IRL. And don’t let your real life self be a contradiction to your online presence. People can sniff out an inauthentic person (and brand) from a million miles away.
+ Don’t put anything on the internet in the heat of emotion. Seriously. Wait an hour (or 24 if you can). Still want to post it? Now, run it through your brand adjectives. Does it support those goals? Carry on.
+ Don’t underestimate the power of weird. Be you. Let your freak flag fly. You are unique and if you can successfully incorporate that into you brand, do it! Edit yourself; don’t censor yourself.
+ Never stop advocating for yourself. Share your goals, self-promote, network. No one else is going to believe in you if they don’t think you believe on yourself.
+ Never stop advocating for others. You honestly can’t do this all on your own. Want to be the kind of person people want to help? Help others. There is literally nothing better for your personal brand or for your soul.
+ Be kind. Seriously. Enough said.
+ Be fearless. Afraid of putting yourself out there? Think you’re not good enough, yet? All of the most brilliant people question themselves. It’s the idiots that think they have it all figured out. You will (hopefully) always be better tomorrow than you were today. But you can’t wait until tomorrow to start achieving your goals.
Part of my personal brand, is sharing my experience and knowledge with you. Have questions? Send them my way. And one day, when you are wildly successful (or on your way) and need someone to design and strategize a brand for your business, you’ll know who to call.