You already have a personal brand. Your brand is how the world experiences you, both in person and by reputation. Your brand is the consistency with which others perceive your response to stressful and calm moments. Your brand is your signature style including leadership, communication, and fashion sense! If you really think about it, none of us actually controls our brand; the people around us define our brand through their experiences with us. But we do have a chance to influence our brand by consistency in our behavior and clarity of what’s important to us. For most of us, our brand evolved without any conscious effort.
One way to proactively influence your brand is to create a personal brand statement for yourself. A personal brand statement is like your mission statement; sometimes you will share it outwardly and explicitly, and other times it will serve as your internal guidepost. It’s never too late to take charge of your brand!
I wish I paid attention to this earlier in my career! My personal brand developed by default, and like most there were positive and not-so-positive aspects. As a coach, I won’t tell you what your personal statement should entail – that’s for you to determine. I will, however, urge you to spend some time and mind-power on this so you can be proactive and intentional in influencing your brand.
There are many ways to go about creating your brand, and it can take any form – prose, bullet points, or a few key words. One approach is to articulate your brand in terms of your strengths and values. You can think about strengths and values from two perspectives: 1) what you believe to be your strengths and values and 2) what others perceive to be the strengths and values you embody. Once you create your first draft of your personal brand statement, it is worthwhile asking a trusted friend or colleague for their feedback.
When I went about creating my personal brand statement a few years ago, I didn’t use any online tools. But I did spend a few hours thinking deep about areas of strength (at the time I thought about ‘what I’m good at’) and what was important to me. I asked a trusted colleague for feedback, and I was surprised that she was surprised at some of the things I believed to be true about myself. Her insight was invaluable because she affirmed some things, and challenged me in other areas. For instance, she helped me to see disconnects – areas where I wanted to be strong but where I wasn’t quite portraying that characteristic as a strength.
You can find lots of resources and tools online to help articulate your strengths and values. Search for “strengths assessments” or “core values assessments”. Book stores also have resources in the business and self-help sections. Another benefit of using a third-party tool is that it gives you a framework and language with which others may be familiar.
A few years forward, I took the StrengthsFinder 2.0 online assessment, and it confirmed that my strengths are in the areas of strategic, empathy, ideation, connectedness, and futuristic. For values, I took the Core Values Index online assessment, and in this model, my values lean towards love and wisdom (the other two value quadrants are power and knowledge).
Using Your Personal Brand Statement. Okay, so now that you’ve created your personal brand statement, where can you actually use it? Keep it nearby so you can refer to it often as a reminder of the experience you want to world to have of you. You can also use your brand statement explicitly or implicitly for:
- Networking. When you meet with people who don’t know you as well, and if you are looking for new career opportunities, being clear on your strengths and values is hugely helpful in this process. Being prepared and confident in your strengths and values can take you a long way.
- Interviewing. Like networking, but now the stakes are higher. Having interviewed hundreds of candidates over the years, it is refreshing to meet a candidate who is crystal clear on their value add. Don’t be shy!
- Project Teams. Ideally, people on project teams should bring complimentary strengths to the table. If management understands your strengths (and you give them the words and framework to understand your strengths), you are better positioned to be asked to participate on that important project. And that brings you visibility. A good thing!
- Volunteering. Similar to project teams, knowing and articulating your strengths and values helps to position you where your talents can best serve others in volunteer work. Beautiful!
- Performance Reviews. Be sure to articulate your strengths and values in the context of job performance and meeting the core competencies required for your position. This also gives your manager the words to use when they are representing you to their peers and upper management.
- Professional Development. It’s really too bad that we focus so much time and energy trying to develop our weaker qualities. That’s not to say that we should completely ignore areas where we need or want to improve, but it would be really refreshing to have at least one development activity that’s focused on expanding your strengths. Think about how powerful that could be for you and your company!
- Resume/Social Media. Sure, use your personal brand statement in your executive summary of your resume and social media sites.
Bottom line, it’s easy to take a few minutes thinking about how you want the world to experience you, and then set out to be intentional about creating that experience. Let me know how this process goes for you!
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