I want to share this article with you all because it's probably one of the best personal branding articles I've read in a long time - and that's saying something, because I read a lot of these.
The original article is from Forbes and you can find it here
What I really love about it is that it breaks personal branding and leadership and explains how it is the one and the same. Personal branding online is more then just posting a few good articles, or sharing your expertise on your area of interest, it's more than that.
One of the most interesting findings from the article was that:
"Based on a survey conducted by my organization, less than 15% of people have truly defined their personal brand and less than 5% are living it consistently at work – each and every day. "
"What I didn’t tell you is that 70% of professionals believe they have defined their personal brand and 50% believe they are living it. "
That's a huge disparity on what people think they are doing and what people see them doing. Personal branding is more then just self-promotion, which is where the disparity comes from. If you are building a personal brand online just to push your product or business, you are not truly doing it. What you are doing is purely self-promotion.
So what is a personal brand?
The article explains that a personal brand is:
"A personal brand is the total experience of someone having a relationship with who you are and what you represent as an individual; as a leader."
This requires you to go beneath the surface of just your business.
- How do you want people to see you?
- What kind of person do you want to be to others?
- Is your behaviors and what you are doing reflecting this?
The biggest challenge as a leader and in personal branding is communicating a true representation of who you are. Many people get this part wrong.
The hard part is acting in a way that people can "interpret and experience" in the way that you intended. For example, you may see yourself as someone who people look up to, and bring a lot of value to their lives. The true test to see if you got your personal brand truly right is to maybe ask some people that will give you an honest answer and see if that's what their experienced from interacting with you. For all you know they may see you as someone that is agreeable, and likes to work with others.
That disparity is something you need to be very aware of and continue to tweak until what you want people to think of you, and what people ACTUALLY think of you align.
You know you've got it right, when you don't even need to tell people why they need to respect you as a leader. They will automatically tell you, and seek you out.
So if you find yourself having conversations where you need to tell people why they need to listen to you on things you think you are an expert at, you know there is something not quite right with your personal branding. If you got your personal branding right, you will find they will seek you out themselves for advice, because you are a living example of what an expert in that area should be. A easy example will be if Bob wanted to be known as the time-management expert, he will need to act in a way so that people will say this about him:
"Oh talk to Bob about your time management issues, his really great with that"
Being a leader requires you to be totally self-aware of how you are seen by others, and is a very important concept to apply to your own online branding and social media efforts. Everything you do online will be used to shape what people perceive your "personal brand" to be.
How does this translate to online?
One of the things the article touched upon is if you want to take part in online branding, you need to make sure you never stop once you start.
One of the reasons for this is how your online consistency can play a huge part in how people judge you. One of the quotes that I'd like to refer to is:
"How to do one thing is how you do everything"
This is an important one because if someone is a liar, you wouldn't trust them because they could lie to you at any time. People are used to taking one incidence of behavior and then relating it to future behavior until the pattern is broken in some dramatic way.
That's why first impressions are very important, because people will use that experience of you to predict your future behavior until you get a chance to break the assumption, and most people never give you that chance if the first impressions wasn't pleasant.
So with social media, if you aren't consistent people may think that you are unreliable. If you are too sales driven, people may think that you are only interested in them to sell them something. Whatever represents you online will be key in how people interpret your brand in the future.
And the dangerous thing is, people can look you up online before they even meet you. So be very aware of how you represent yourself online, if you take that step, make sure you think about it if it may have a big impact for you and your business.