The positives of being young are endless. Agility, potential, flexibility, and freedom are just some of the few characteristics that make youth such an enviable time in one’s life. However, while the negatives may be few and far between, there is one in particular that haunts me. I have found it impossibly difficult to portray an image of myself that deserves to be taken seriously in a business environment. While I know I am competent and dedicated, this might not be the impression that others have of me based on preconceived ideas of capability. However, fear not, for not all hope is lost, youths! You can take control of the way others perceive you by designing your own personal brand.
Take a moment to think of your favorite brand and the expectation you have of them. If your favorite brand if Nike, you will expect a certain level of quality, performance, and image when you buy a Nike product. Through consistency, authenticity, and influence, Nike has created an image in your mind of what they represent. Do not underestimate the power of this influence! Lucky for us, we too have access to this powerful thing called branding.
Personal branding is an amazing tool to use in business, one that you would be crazy not to master at a young age. It gives you the opportunity to choose and control how other people perceive you. Your brand is an expectation of the experience that people will have when they interact with you. It is essentially your reputation, and the way others see and feel about you.
Have you ever sat with a friend or by yourself and indulged in the activity we all know and love commonly known as ‘people watching’? I would like to propose we change this name to personal brand evaluation. Does it sound less fun? Yes. Is it more accurate? Definitely. But have you ever thought about being the victim of a personal brand evaluation session? Do you think those people perceived you in the way you want to be perceived?
It is important to understand that the way you choose to present yourself to the world, your potential employer, investor or the market, matters. Being mindful of the way you are perceived allows you to evaluate whether or not you are happy with the image you are portraying.
However, your personal brand is not only on display when you walk down the street. We live in a digital age, where we have the ability to market ourselves online all the time. Through Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and Linkedin, the world is your personal branding oyster. The image you portray via your social media accounts say more about you than you may like to think. Yes, the untagging button did just become your new best friend.
If you aren’t happy with your personal brand, whether online or in person, and would like to change the way you present yourself to the world, it’s never too late to rebrand.
7 TIPS TO BUILDING THE PERSONAL BRAND YOU WANT:
Know Your Audience
Before you begin designing your personal brand, know who you want to like you. Not everyone will, and that’s okay. You need to promote and position yourself to people who find you relevant and compelling. Who are the people you want to surround yourself self with? If you want to own a bakery, your customers probably aren’t expecting to you to wear a suit in the office. Market yourself appropriately, but remember that even if you are a financial executive in an office, approachability is never out of fashion.
Like knowing your audience, knowing your social media platforms is essential:
Facebook is to build a community of friends, family, and acquaintances.
Twitter is to build relationships through direct communication.
Linkedin is to build your professional business network.
Instagram is a creative outlet that allows you to tell a visual story through your images
Pinterest is to share your interests online, and let people know what you are passionate about.
Portraying a particular image of yourself to the world does not mean letting your authenticity go. Design a brand for yourself that you love, and you know your target audience will love. Ask yourself how you want people to remember you, and work on creating a brand that is memorable in that way. Allow your personal style, dress, and image to come through in every situation. It is possible to be appropriate while still remaining true to yourself.
Consistency, not perfection is what it takes to build a credible personal brand. Credibility is what makes personal branding worth it. When you attach action to your values and you will create a credible self-image. Through consistency and credibility, you create trust. When people know they can just your personal brand, 82% of people will recommend you to other people, 83% will use the products or services you have to offer more frequently, and 50% will pay more for what you have to offer. Be consistent, be credible and be trustworthy.
Let your personal brand shine. Do not be afraid to go the extra mile. Personalize everything you do and create a memorable experience for those who meet you. When you design a personal brand, do not aim to be perfect. Aim to be somebodies favorite. Add your quirks to your style, your body language and in conversation. People appreciate a little bit of difference.
Establish a Presence
The way you present yourself is stronger than your physical appearance. It is the way people feel when they meet you. Put people at ease by making sure you have an approachable disposition. Be open, smile with your teeth, and make eye contact.
Create an Impact
Your personal brand is not about what you are, but who you are. It is not your qualifications, or achievements, or your CV. There might be someone with the same schooling and accomplishments as you, but nobody shares your unique brand. Engage those around you and keep the conversation going.
It is often said that you have 60 seconds to grab someone’s attention. Make those 60 seconds count with these 3 easy steps:
- 1) Take the mystery out of the conversation by describing what you do
- 2) If you have a specialty, now is the time to mention it. Emphasize what makes you unique
- 3) Tell a concise and interesting story that is relevant to what you do. This will help people remember you.
- Be Strategic
This is the most important step in your process to creating your desired personal brand. Nike’s brand did not develop overnight; they had a plan and an intention to create a lasting product and a favorite brand. Ask yourself where you want to be in 5 years, and what it will take to get there. Be proactive and have intention in everything you do.
How would you like to be remembered? Is that the way you’re known today? If not, having a strategy is what takes you from who you are, to who you want to be.
Whether you know it or not, you actually have a brand already. But is it the one you want?