What’s in a Personal Brand Anyway?

brandingHave you heard about this “personal brand” thing that is catching on? No, what the hell is it? Why do I care? Just what  are you getting at here Jason?

I’m glad you asked!

I’ve worked for a long time to build a reputation among the people I work with whether they are clients, co-workers, organizations, or audiences. This reputation is what gets me noticed, it affords me a certain ability to connect at a higher/deeper (whichever way you look at the glass) level. This reputation has become my brand.

When you think of Nike, you might think of sports apparel or running shoes, or Tiger Woods… wait, no… we don’t think of Tiger Woods. When you think of  Coca-Cola, you might think of refreshment, summer, polar bears… I don’t know what goes on in your head! Just like these brands, a personal brand is simply the culmination of all the things people think of when they think of you.

Bottom line is this, you already have a personal brand. What is it?

Google yourself. What did you find? Embarrassing pictures of last summer’s drunken escapades? Personal family images? A poorly constructed Linkedin profile? Or even worse, nothing at all.

To those out there that don’t already know you, this is your personal brand.

“But, what about all those people that already know me Jason”?

You have a brand there too. That brand is determined a little differently though, that brand is made up of every action you take coupled with the motivation that powers those actions as well as the outcomes of those actions. Did you contribute to the United Way Fund last year at Christmas time? Do you pass up the opportunity to plan the company picnic? Do your colleagues wince or cheer when they find out they have to work with you on a project? Don’t know the answer to these questions?

If you’re like the majority of the populace, your personal brand is not what you’d like it to be. Many people learn when it is too late that their personal brand has undermined their search for a new job or career, or that promotion, or that date with that “really swell chick from accounting”. This sucks (especially that really swell chick part) and really, is totally preventable.

Constructing a personal brand really isn’t all that difficult. Heck, you’ve already been doing whether you know it or not. Here’s a really quick list of 5 things you can do right now to improve your personal brand and take charge of the way that people perceive you.

  1. Tweet – not just rants about politics, tweet something useful – something that others might even re-tweet.
  2. Clean up your Facebook – take a look at what you’re putting out there and make sure that it matches the personality you want others to see.
  3. Get a Linkedin profile – if you’ve already got one, use it to connect with colleagues and co-workers in your field of expertise.
  4. Share useful commentary – no one likes a troll but a quick insight on someone else’s social media post is always welcome and gets your name out there as a respectful and thoughtful person.
  5. Pay attention to how you act in social settings – not just the obvious things like office parties, but at your kids’ friends birthday parties too – you never know who’s watching!

I could go on for days about all the ways you can improve your personal brand but I won’t. I’ll leave it up to you. How do you improve your personal equity? What methods do you use for connecting with others in a meaningful way?