Power of a strong personal brand has never been more potent than in current times. Individuals are making efforts to create a strong personal brand more than ever. This effort is the result of a need to differentiate oneself from other talented individuals.
Talking of a personal brand, the first question that arises is — what is a personal brand? Simply said, it is how others perceive your value. It is the spark which lets you stand apart from the crowd.
The importance of a strong personal brand becomes more evident when you associate it with the degree of success one can achieve. Your success in today’s world depends on what value people associate with the work you do.
A strong personal brand puts your life on fast track. This is irrespective of nature of work you do. You can be an entrepreneur, a student or an employee.
Similar to a product brand, the final verdict for a personal brand lies with end user. The end users here are the people whom you interact with on a regular basis — your family, colleagues, friends, customers, and clients. They are the ones who ultimately decide the value of your brand.
On the journey of creating a personal brand you should always remember what Rajesh Setty, author and personal branding evangelist once wrote, “You already have a personal brand”. Whether you like it or not people already see you and perceive your value in a certain way.
You unconsciously created a personal brand in school. Your teachers and friends either saw you as a sharp, intelligent kid or one less inclined towards studies but more inclined towards music or sports. Some kids also become notorious for their acts of mischief.
Similarly you create a personal brand at workplace with the way you carry yourself, the way you pursue the tasks assigned to you, and through your interactions with colleagues.
Whatever stage your personal brand is, you can improve it if you practice the following;
- Walk the talk
- Deliver on your promises
- Work on your appearance
- Be an expert in your chosen field, a go-to person
- Express yourself through public speaking and writing
- Join relevant communities, clubs and associations
- Volunteer for a public cause
Creating a personal brand looks tempting as an idea but it is easier said than done. Creating one in real life calls for a lot of hard work, perseverance and planning.
It is the same as creating the brand for a product. Once you take a product to market, consumers give the verdict based on their liking for the product and how it fulfils their needs.
In case of a personal brand one gets a lot of chance to improve upon first offering which is not possible for a product brand without substantial investment.
You have an added advantage as a living human being. Here “You” are the product and you need not hire anybody else to endorse your personal brand.
For a product its quality and consumer need fulfillment are very important for its success. Similarly in your case you need substance i.e. original ideas and detailed knowledge in your chosen field if you want people to take your brand seriously.
Along with substance you also need to ensure that your audience notices what you want to convey. You can ensure this by proper packaging.
If you feel that you have something of value to offer to your fellow human beings; start working on your package and presentation. In your case packing means, how you look, how your smell, do you shave regularly (not suggested for ladiesJ). What is the size of your waist? What clothes you wear.
This is not to suggest that only people with good looks can create a strong personal brand. The idea here is to project you the best you can. For a perspective, think of Earnest Hemingway, Beethoven, and Steve Wonder; have you seen them? What about Michael Jackson?
Chances are you love their work more than you care about how they look or looked and all of them are pretty big brands.
Some of you may say I am fat, I am not good looking. How can I create a good personal brand? Sure you can. Probably you can do it with greater ease now.
When and where to start on your pursuits towards a strong personal brand, is the next logical question?
When should you start working towards creation of a strong personal brand? Earlier you start, better it is. Start working at it while you are at school. Do it in graduate school or in your first job. Do it irrespective of your current situation and years later you will be glad that you did it.
You may be apprehensive about the importance of a strong personal brand if you are in a job, thinking that this is only meant for entrepreneurs, industry bigwigs and celebrities. The contrary is true. It is meant for all those who wish to stand for what they think is right, who need to be listened to by their peers, who want to have the best life and want to move ahead without participating in proverbial rat race.
Your social and professional environment is the best place to start. If you are still in school, volunteer to undertake organization of annual day celebrations and other events, give your best to academics, and participate in extra-curricular activities.
This is not to suggest that only extroverts can create a strong personal brand. If you are not a vocal type let others know your thoughts by writing for school newspaper. As always, action speaks louder than words, at least in long term. Though being a better communicator always helps.
Ask for help when you need and somebody is willing to provide it. When you ask for help more often than not, people are willing to extend it to you. Further, it also prompts others to ask for help from you as well.
The choice of medium to promote your personal brand is up to you. Web is an amazing place to start your pursuits if creating a personal brand. It is fast, cost-effective and gives you reach to ears, eyes and senses of entire world.
Action is of utmost importance. Do not wait too long to start. Start with whatever resources and time you have at your hand. You will improve as the time passes. Remember not to make any false promises. Share all that you have.
All this while keep working on your packaging. You will need a good package when your brand is established in the world where you operate. Then people will invite you as a keynote speaker or as a chief guest. Such opportunities work as a catalyst to take your personal brand to the next level. Onus of making the best use of such opportunities lies on you. You better be ready for it.
Very important, Personal brand is not a tool to undercut others. It is a mean to project you in the right light.
I suggest you to ask “why” before taking any action? So “why” invest in a personal brand. Simply because this is the best investment you will ever make. This is something nobody can steal. This is an entry barrier for somebody trying to compete against you.
You may have different reasons to put efforts in creation of a strong brand. It may be the need for better job, the opportunity of being listened to at work and among friends. Whatever be the case always follow the saying — Dig the well before you are thirsty.
Start working on it before it comes to your rescue in finding a better job or help you increase the rates your command for services as a “knowledge-preneur”.
Whether you agree or not, the need to create a personal brand and strong “YOU” is urgent. You should start working on it now. Start writing and sharing your mind space with the world if you think you have something worthwhile to share. Speak your mind whenever an opportunity is there.
Hone your writing and speaking skills. Writing 500 words daily is a good practice. If you intend to become a public speaker, join a toastmaster’s club. If there is no toastmaster’s club close to your home or you have paucity of time, stand in front of a mirror and practice speaking loudly.
Get into habit of reading good books. Get some good books to start with. Do not buy a pile. Finish what you have first and then buy new ones. Learn the optimal utilization of your resources.
If you do all this consistently, soon you will start enjoying the sweet fruit of labor and will be the proud owner of a strong PERSONAL BRAND.
Wishing you best in your pursuits.
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