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Does your personal brand open or close doors for you?

Your personal brand lives in the minds of others. Just like when you think Starbucks, “coffee” and “predictable taste and quality” come to mind, when someone thinks of you an image forms. What is it? And does it open or close doors for you?

Why is your personal brand relevant in your career? Because if, for example, your network thinks that you are “an ethical accountant with international experience,” you will be the first one they call when an opportunity arises. But if no one has any idea of ​​what you are good at, or if they have doubts about your reputation, it’s unlikely that your phone will ring.

What we call personal brand refers to a combination of elements that include your career path, your interests and your reputation. Over time these elements come together to build your image. An image that is not static but changes according to your activities, passions, and behavior.

Read more about how to find out what your personal brand is.
Your personal brand and you as a human being

Your personal brand and you as a human being

Your personal brand has as much to do with your quality as a human being as with what you do. Think of someone like Shakira. We could define her personal brand as “a talented, innovative and respected singer-songwriter, dancer, record producer and philanthropist.” But when those who might be interested in hiring her think of her, they also consider how easy it is to work with Shakira, what her work ethic is, whether she is a perfectionist, and if she is known for finishing projects on time. Does she treat the people she works with respectfully? And so on. That is, they not only think about what she does but how she does it. And that’s where your reputation comes into play.

Work until you no longer have to introduce yourself. This is the benefit of a powerful personal brand

Work until you no longer have to introduce yourself. This is the benefit of a powerful personal brand

Building your personal brand. An example for you

Here I share my own case study for you to use as an example when evaluating whether your personal brand opens or closes opportunities for you.

1My career – As with most people, my interests have changed throughout my career. I began at an educational book company where I did a little bit of everything. Gradually I started to create programs to involve parents in the education of their children, then developed teacher training, later training for professionals within companies and today I lead a women’s leadership training company. As a writer, each one of my books took me in a slightly different direction. I went from being an expert on parental involvement to an expert in education, from an expert in professional development to an expert in diversity and inclusion.

2My interests – While I have always had multiple interests, my focus has been on the education, and professional development of Latinos in the United States and in the last few years in women’s leadership. If you dig a little, my underlying personal brand has always been: “expert in helping connect the dots to success.” This consistency helps people think of me when they have an opportunity within my areas of interest and experience. Which does not happen when third parties don’t know what you do.

Here's a great video on building your personal brand.

Do others know your personal brand?

Here are the questions that will help you discover how clear your interests are to others.

If you ask someone: “tell me in two sentences what I do professionally,” can they answer? Do you often hear comments like “truthfully, I don’t know what do”? Do ideal opportunities pass you by because people didn’t think of you to carry them out?

When you look carefully, your personal brand is no only what you're known for "doing" but personal traits that remain throughout your career and life.

When you look carefully, your personal brand is no only what you’re known for “doing” but personal traits that remain throughout your career and life.

3My Reputation – Although over the years I have changed the topics I focus on, there are aspects of who I am that have remained the same. They are part of what people have come to expect of me. These characteristics are as much part of my personal brand as what I do at any given moment. They are a collection of adjectives that people use to define me when asked about me. A few of them are: Inspiring, smart, confident, innovative, high energy, solutions-driven, perceptive, thoughtful, trustworthy, goes the extra mile.  Again, What do people think when they think of you? These are the traits you develop and strengthen through your life. The reputation that precedes you. Going back to my previous example, when Shakira launched her perfume line, the “quality and innovation” aspects, which are an integral part of her personal brand, extended to her new venture. That is why, if her perfume were of poor quality, or were a copy of another fragrance, for example, her personal brand would be impacted.

No doubt your reputation is the most important ingredient of your personal brand. If it is not good, no matter how much you have done in a particular field or what your interests are, few will be willing to work with you.

Read more about how your actions can support your personal brand.

Do others know your personal brand

Do others know your personal brand

How to figure out if your reputation contributes to your personal brand

Here are the questions that will help you figure out whether or not your reputation contributes to a strong personal brand:

Do you keep your word? Do you inspire confidence? Are you an ethical person? Do you consider the impact of your behavior on others? Do you know how to work for mutual benefit? Are you known as someone people can trust? Do you have a reputation for being always late? For not delivering on your promises? For not carrying your weight in a project?

Hopefully this article will help you evaluate the type of person you are and how that directly influences the image you project to the world and the opportunities that knock on your door.

And as usual, if you’d like to solidify your personal brand to move to the next level in your career, we are a phone call away. Contact us here.

Your personal brand already exists. Are you aware of it?

When I ask the members of our Step Up Plus program “what is your personal brand?” most of them stay quiet. They are not sure if I mean the 30-second elevator pitch or something else entirely.

The difference between a 30-second elevator pitch and your personal brand

Your 30-second elevator pitch is more like the ad you can thoughtfully put together to explain who you are, how you impact others, what you are good at, what your goals are, etc. The main difference between your elevator pitch and your personal brand is that you control 100% your pitch. You can’t control 100% of your personal brand because it’s lives in people’s heads.

Your personal brand is quite different from your 30-second elevator pitch.

Your personal brand is quite different from your 30-second elevator pitch.

What is your personal brand?

Simply put, your personal brand is how others perceive you. It’s the image other people have of you. Their experience of you. What makes up your reputation. A collage, if you will, of aspects including your:

  • Presence
  • Behavior
  • Personality
  • Values
  • Sense of humor
  • Speech patterns
  • Relationships
  • Ideas
  • Appearance

And a lot more. So, sure, there is certain amount of control you can exercise over people’s perception of you. You can adjust things like your behavior, the way in which you present your ideas, the kind of relationships you keep, and how you dress. But what about your personality, your sense of humor, or your deeply held values? Those are much harder to change.

Live by your word and you'll build a powerful reputation and memorable brand.

Live by your word and you’ll build a powerful reputation and memorable brand.

Here's a great video on personal branding.

Whether you want it or not, your personal brand already exists

So, why not finding out what it is. A simple, yet effective exercise to get a clear picture of how others perceive you is to conduct your own market research. Send a brief note to a group of 5-10 trusted colleagues, bosses, and even friends. The message should go something like this:

“I’m evaluating my personal brand and would appreciate your insights. Would you share with me the first few sentences or adjectives that come to mind when you think of me? For example: You are hardworking. You are punctual. You seldom join your colleagues for social events. You like to stick to what you know.”

By giving people clear examples of characteristics that are frequently considered positive and others that are not so positive, you show that you want honest answers. It makes people more likely to be open with you. Review the answers you receive and try not to take them to heart. Use them to inform you about your personal brand. Then ask yourself:

Figure out what makes you unique and sharpen your personal brand. You bring it everywhere with you whether you want it or not.

Figure out what makes you unique and sharpen your personal brand. You bring it everywhere with you whether you want it or not.

Do these answers fit with what I think of myself? And also, is this the type of personal brand I need to fulfill my current and future career goals?

If your thoughts about yourself are quite different from the perception of you out there, you may need to work with someone to help you figure out why. This is a good time to consult your mentors.

Here’s the story of a woman who built an amazing brand for her business. Mariebelle. Don’t miss it!

If the perception out there doesn’t support your career objectives, you have to look at the areas where you can make adjustments.

The following suggestions can help you make the largest impact on your personal brand in the shortest time.

1Make your word sacred. When you promise something, deliver. If you know you can’t, don’t commit to it or negotiate a more reasonable deadline. Every time you break your word you affect negatively your personal brand. So avoid putting yourself in this situation at all costs.

2Evaluate the people in your inner circle and aim for top quality relationships. Are they helping you with your brand or imprinting a negative vibe to it? Remember the idea of “guilty by association.” If you hang out with people others respect, they will respect you. I don’t need to tell you that the opposite is true too.

3Be aware of your behavior at all times. A big part of your brand is people’s experience of you and with you. So ask yourself: Do you take advantage of others? Do you criticize others? Laugh at them? Are you ready to lend a hand? Do you volunteer in company projects? Are you dependable? Do you brighten people’s days? Do you think of about what makes others happy? There are a million questions along these lines that can help you figure out how your behavior might be impacting your personal brand.

4Work on your appearance. Whatever your personal style, looking well put together and clean go a long way. Check out our Business Attire Guide for valuable posts on how to use accessories, how to dress for casual Fridays, and so on.

If you are happy with the results of your personal brand research, the only thing left to do is to reinforce it. And using your brand to your advantage.

Here are a few suggestions:

1Leverage your uniqueness. Bring that which makes you different to every role and every position you apply to. Consider this: When you think of your favorite product or person, a salient characteristic comes to mind. That’s how people should think of you. The inspired leader. The change maker. The woman who helps others soar.

2Find initiatives where your personal brand ads value. Where can you make a difference? For example if your brand is: “the multicultural, consensus-building leader,” you can approach a team in need of exactly that.

3Constantly build your brand. If Starbucks stopped offering comfortable chairs, wi-fi and coffee, you’d probably stop going there for meetings, right? They’ve established themselves not only as a coffee house, but as the “third space.” Neither the office nor home. Well, your brand is who you are. If you hurt it, people will stop thinking of you as their first choice when an opportunity comes along.

First Lady Michelle Obama is known for her generosity, her inspirational style and an ability to get things done at a large and small scale. How well is your brand known?

First Lady Michelle Obama is known for her generosity, her inspirational style and an ability to get things done at a large and small scale. How well is your brand known?

As you see, you are inseparable from your personal brand. There are things you can adjust and others you can’t. By tweaking those you can, you will strengthen others’ positive perception of you. In the end, that’s what will always open doors.

Consider signing up for our Step Up (individual) or Step Up Plus (corporations) Programs to further develop your personal brand and many other key soft skills critical for career growth. That’s what we do best.