In a world of globalisation and advanced technology, we are experiencing the constant evolution of our economy, public sentiment, social norms, international attitudes, environmental conditions and of course, career prospects. As such, it is more important than ever to hone your personal brand and adapt it to different circumstances, as and when needed. Being able to finesse a situation, i.e. handle it with skill, or in the words of one Shawn Carter “how to move in a room full of vultures”, begins with mastering your brand, both in the physical and online. To help you to achieve this, we’ve highlighted 14 things that you need to do to develop your personal brand, so that you can attract stakeholders before you’ve even opened your mouth…
Write down ten things about you that appeal to others. This can be anything from your smile, to your banter or your work ethic. Likewise, ask others for honest feedback about your areas for improvement, and make a list of ten things to work on.
Take stock of these lists, because they are the foundation of your personal brand, and the aspects to focus on for your development. Start emphasising the characteristics in the first list, while decreasing or eliminating those from the second list.
2. Find Strength In Your Weakness
It isn’t easy to own your flaws, less easy is exposing them for the world to see. However, the ability to capitalise on your own weaknesses is what makes comedians so successful – raw honesty and openness appeals to others, while taking the power away from others who may wish to highlight that thing that you are insecure about. In the words of one John Legend, love your perfect imperfections – they just might be your USP!
3.Stand For Something, Or Fall For Anything
Whether people agree with your opinions or not, they’ll always have a certain level of respect for the fact that you stand for something, if you have knowledge of that topic. Otherwise, a notion without knowledge is just ignorance. Research matters such as politics, religion, society, education, health, crime, relationships, culture and economics etc., then decide where you stand on such matters and why. This will define the ethics and values of your brand, which will help to align you with suitable contacts, while making for great networking conversations.
4.Define Your Personality Archetype
Now that you have identified your strengths, weaknesses, and your ethics, take stock of the persona of your brand and the persona of your target audience(s). Psychoanalyst Carl Jung highlighted twelve personality archetypes, which symbolise basic human motivations, helping to shape our personalities and those that we aspire to be more like. Each type has its own set of values, meanings and personality traits. By identifying your own archetype and the archetype of your target audience, you can learn which characteristics of your brand to capitalise on, in order to attract and maintain good customer relationships.
5. Share Your Story
Your story is your ‘why’. A lot of marketing is focussed on what you do and how you do it, but why you do it is your USP, and it is the key to developing fruitful relationships. Ask yourself why you’re doing what you do and why people should care, then figure out how you’re going to communicate your story to them in an authentic and engaging way. You’ll find that the more honest you are, the easier and more fulfilling it will be to share your story.
6.Communication is KEY
We are more connected now than ever before and learning which channels to use for optimal engagement is a pivotal skill. We’ve highlighted the different methods of communication below, to get you thinking about which will be best to use for your desired results in different situations.
Email – Usually the most professional channel, which can be used to schedule other methods of contact such as a phone call or face-to-face meeting. Be sure to add a signature to the end of your email, so that it is clear who you are, what you do, where you do it and how you can be reached. If you have your own business, it is also worth investing in a business email (e.g. email@example.com) as opposed to using your personal email account (e.g. firstname.lastname@example.org).
Phone – Get a work phone. This can be anything from an old phone that you can only make and receive phone calls on, to a smartphone that you can use to separate all your business activities from your personal phone. This can help to avoid awkward circumstances such as appearing in someone’s WhatsApp contacts with that picture that you’d never want them to see, to answering the phone in an unprofessional manner because you expect it to be one of your mates (or PPI). A work phone can also be switched off for downtime, allowing you to make the most of what’s left of your social life. Alternatively, you can set up ringtones for clients, so you know when they’re ringing your personal phone.
Text – Avoid this unless you know your client is comfortable with texting, as it is quite personal. However, if clients prefer to text, follow suit but keep it formal. Steer away from the acronyms and emoji’s, although the smiley face gets a pass in some situations (again, ensure that you know this is appropriate before trying it).
Letters – So 1999, but also necessary in some situations. If you must send a letter, send it on headed paper and use a subtle form of personalisation. You can do this by writing your signature by hand, writing their address on the envelope by hand, or using a different coloured envelope (keep it subtle).
7.Smart Social Networking
I’m just going to throw it out there; anyone who is trying to get to know who you are, be it an employer, a client, or a suitor, is going to search you online. With regards to employers and clients, the lack of an online presence may actually deter them, for the fear that you are either out of touch, or that you have something to hide.
Social networks are the most efficient way to expose your brand to a global audience, but whatever you put out there enters the worldwide web forever. As such, it is important to develop and maintain a good reputation on all of your personal and business social media accounts, because content from years ago can easily come back to bite you in the a**.
Your online profiles should act like a portfolio; use them to access and engage your target audience. Imagine that you are a social entrepreneur, writer and designer and you’ve set up accounts on Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook and Instagram. You may showcase your designs on Instagram and Facebook, while posting your articles on Twitter and LinkedIn, and highlighting your social entrepreneurship on all four accounts. Likewise, you may use Facebook and Instagram for personal use, while your Twitter and LinkedIn are dedicated to your professional work. Either way, as long as it is online, it is part of your brand and you need to represent yourself well at all times. This may include un-tagging yourself from some pictures, making them private or deleting them altogether.
Now that we’ve covered the don’ts, here are some do’s for smart networking. Upload the right pictures, comment the right way on the right blogs and Tweet the right links, and people may figure out your brands story, personality archetype and personal ethics, all before they’ve even met you.
8.Develop A Website/Blog/Podcast (or all three)
A website is the foundation of your brand. This is where people will go for information about you, your work and your contact information. Make sure that the design of your website is representative of your product/service and appealing to your audience. For instance, a Disney website can be expected to be filled with colours and more images than words to create that feel-good-factor, while a government website is expected to be highly functional with no frills as it’s strictly business.
Going back to sharing your story, blogs and podcasts are becoming the most important ways to do so. Interacting with your audience in a personal manner creates a loyal customer base, as they know that they can expect to hear (or read) from you on a regular basis, be it weekly, fortnightly or monthly. Ensure that your content reflects your personal brand, so that you can attract the right audience i.e. if you attract a large audience with material about parenting, don’t be surprised when none of them buy tickets to your MMA event
9.Dress to impress
The harsh reality is that when it comes to perceptions, you are what you wear. It is important to find out what looks good on you, with regards to colours, styles and fits. Wear an outfit that complements your frame and your skin-tone, and you can make Very look Versace. Nonetheless, quality always supersedes quantity when it comes to your wardrobe. Shop for sales and clearances, but don’t get sucked in by FOMO (fear of missing out). Make sure that every item of clothing is the right colour, style and fit for you and your brand, then go ahead and make that purchase.
10.Fix up, look sharp
The way you carry yourself speaks volumes about your personality and your confidence. A good posture (chin up, shoulders down, back straight) is more appealing to the eye than a bad posture (head down, shoulders and back hunched). Be conscious of your posture, and be sure to maintain eye contact, give a firm handshake, and most importantly, master the 3 V’s of communication. The 3 V’s are:
- Verbal – Ensure yours are well-chosen words, and strategic. Keep them few enough to be concise and convincing enough to be complete. That said, public speaking is not ‘public reading.’ It’s really not about what you say, but rather how you say it.
- Vocal – Your tone of voice adds or takes away from what you are saying. Vary your tone and pitch. Pause and pace yourself to engage your audience. Let them hear the meaning of your words in the way you articulate them. Most importantly, be audible.
- Visual – This refers to every visible aspect of communication – anything that the eye can perceive. From your body language to your PowerPoint Slides. What picture is the audience getting? What message are you sending with your gestures, facial expressions and even your attitude?
11.Watch The Company You Keep
Two networks are pivotal to the success of your personal brand; your core support group, and your professional network. The former consists of personal contacts who may not share the same professional, political or social interests as you, but you are bound by love, loyalty, trust and respect. The more consumed you become with your professional life, the more difficult it will be to make effort for your core support network, so make it a point to schedule contact into your calendar, be it a phone call, a night out or a coffee break. Work hard to be a good friend to others, as you will need the same, but make sure you invest in the right people by paying attention to your energy levels when you are around them. Do you feel joyous? Or do you feel drained? If it is the latter, it may be time for a change.
The second group will be your professional network. Your investment will be in the form of knowing and have an interest in the progress of each other’s business, offering one another recommendations, new connections or business-related advice. As you strengthen your network, be sure to GET CO-SIGNED. You’ll have to forgive me for using the rap group Migos as an example here. They had been putting out music for years, garnering decent successes and attracting the likes of Drake to feature on their music. However, it wasn’t until actor/writer/producer/singer/rapper/jack-of-all-trades Donald Glover mentioned them in his acceptance speech at the Golden Globes, that they became a global phenomenon and their price went up overnight, literally.
12. Flex For The Gram
Your co-sign may also come by way of being seen at events and associated with the right organisations. If it reflects your brand and your story, be there! The more people become familiar with your brand, both in person and online, the more credible you seem (provided you maintain a good reputation).
13.Leave Your Mark
The average person needs to be exposed to an idea three times before they familiarise with it. Get a logo and mark it on any item that reflects your brand. Carry business cards, leaflets and stationary that are all reflective of your website, so that your brand can be recognised before you’ve even told your story.