- Posted on Jun 8, 2018
Yes… you need a personal brand, and here’s how to define it
By Margo Myers, Margo Myers Communications and Shipley Coaching Executive Coach
In a recent article on leadership, former Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer said, “It’s not who you know. It’s who knows you.” There’s a lot of truth in that, and even more importantly, I believe, is WHAT they know about you. Over the last couple of years, I’ve given the talk ‘What do people say about you when you leave the room? How to influence the conversation.’ It’s about inspiring people to first, think about what they’re communicating about themselves, and secondly, how to pro-actively communicate their strengths and values – the things they do best! In other words, how to take charge of their personal brand.
What do you want to be known for?
Have you ever stopped to think about it? What IS it that you want to be known for? Most of us go through life never giving it any intentional thought. We’re left at the mercy of what people say, and before you know it, others have taken control of our personal brand and we’ve never even blinked an eye.
When I was a young reporter starting out in my news career, I showed up in a new city for a new job where I didn’t know a soul. The first day, another reporter and a photographer told me, “Oh, we already know everything about you. We checked you out with our friends you’ve worked with in the past.” I got a very real introduction to the concept of ‘personal brand’ (even though we didn’t call it that then), and what others were saying about me. Luckily, it was a fairly accurate account, but what if it wasn’t? I would have been ‘branded’ without my input.
3 steps to start defining your personal brand
- The first step to defining your personal brand is assessing your strengths.
What are you naturally good at doing? What things come so easily to you that you might even believe they come easily to everyone, and automatically discount your strength? It starts with self-awareness.
One of my clients works in high-tech and is quickly becoming aware of one of her strengths – her powers of observation. She can attend a meeting, and observe how the leader communicates. She sees how the message is resonating with the rest of people in the room, can clearly identify when the other engineers are confused, and see how no one has the courage to speak up. She picks up on the smallest of details. She’s using her powers of observation to improve her own communication skills based on what works best in this particular company culture. I pointed out to her the impressive amount of detail she notices, and she looked shocked, asking, “Doesn’t everyone notice this?” In my experience, they don’t. A keen power of observation is one of her strengths.
Write down your strengths. Ask trusted friends or colleagues what three strengths come to mind when they hear your name.
- Notice your skillset, and what sets you apart from others who work in a similar role or position.
What are your differentiators? These may be skills you’ve picked up along the way that make you special. Maybe you speak French from studying a semester abroad and the other project managers in your company don’t. Maybe you’re a talented writer, and you’ve published numerous articles while others in your field shy away from posting. Or maybe you’re skilled at presentations after working in sales at a previous company. The list can go on. What sets you apart and makes you different from your competition?
- Finally, what are you passionate about?
What gets you out of bed in the morning? What makes you happy and fulfilled? I love working with people to help them figure it out – whether it’s positioning for a promotion, making a career transition, or improve their communication skills. I love discovering what makes people tick, asking questions, and pulling out relevant information that helps them decide their next best step. Seeing people have that ‘aha’ moment, view something in a new way, or make progress towards their goals — is what I absolutely get a charge out of doing! What’s your passion?
Pulling it all together – your personal brand
The place where all three of these things come together – your strengths, your skills and differentiators, and your passion – is your brand. It’s unique to you. No one else can have your brand. And here’s the thing: No one is going to figure this out for you. YOU get to decide what you’re communicating about yourself, and what it is you’re known for.
Once you define your personal brand, then you can start communicating it in the way you ‘show up,’ how you treat others, and how you perform your role. You’ll have a head start on your competition. People will KNOW what you do best, what you value, and how they can best work with you. It creates opportunity, because you’re now in control of what people say about you when you leave the room!
About the author: Margo Myers is an executive coach who helps her clients communicate more powerfully with everyone, everywhere, every time. For more information about coaching, please visit margomyers.com. Do you have what it takes to get promoted? Take the quiz at www.bepromotedquiz.com. This article originally appeared on LinkedIn.