“What really is Professional Personal Branding?” I speak/write on this topic every hour, of every day – it’s Friday evening and a US client who has just signed up to work with me has just asked this question. I’m exhausted after a week of storms both literally and work related but I needed to be really clear for her.
So, I asked her what she felt it was, and why she had already signed up still lacking that clarity. In fairness, she was waaaaaay ahead of the norm in her understanding. “A personal branding strategy is a plan to take your reputation and career from relative obscurity to high visibility. It describes where you stand today and what level of visibility you want to achieve in the future.”
Is that it?
It’s so much better than the usual “Head shots and more colour in your wardrobe” that I usually hear.
BUT is that it?
A very encouraging “NO” from me. Yes, its strategic. Highly, visibly and pointedly strategic. But it’s not just about visibility. Anyone can have that – and for any reason.
Professional Personal Branding is about strategically building Your Self to be your very best, strongest and most brilliant – in the eyes of your specifically designed audience segments – in a voice that is trusted, heard on platforms that are valued.
When you walk into a boardroom, they already understand clearly the value you bring, the voice you use, the knowledge you have, the way you interact, your connections, your twist, your brilliance, your story. And they want that. It is clear, they can repeat it, they value it above anything else.
Do you have an impactful Professional Personal Brand?
Everything’s so loud, so busy and instantaneous now that it’s getting harder and harder to stand out. The level of competition is fierce, it’s global and it’s critical to be seen, to be heard and to be valued amongst your competitors in the eye of a small number of potential clients or recruiters. Unfortunately, it’s a difficult feat to achieve.
Branding on a business-level is common, but today branding is becoming just as important on a personal level. After all, you might work for a business that works with other businesses, but it’s people working with people that makes business relationships truly valuable. Even if you have your own company, with a great brand, you, yourself need to stand out.
People need to know what they can expect from you before you walk in the door or pop into a Zoom call. They need to understand the value and experience you bring. What are you renowned for? What is your work ethos? How do you communicate with others (those above and below you)? How will you deliver for prospective clients? What’s your personal brand story and is it easy for them to repeat correctly.
Remember: “People Do Business with People”
So, how can you go about building a great Professional Personal Brand that stands out, is authentic, is valuable, relevant and engaging?
IT ALL STARTS WITH YOU:
What are your personal drivers? Your Values? Your Key Descriptors? Stay away from all those wonderfully dull, overused words; Professional, Team Player, Good Communicator. Everyone is all of these things surely? You want to stand out.
Let me correct that – You NEED to stand out!
As a starting point for your Personal Brand, aim to discover words that describe you, drive you and are a bit of a stretch for you. These will be your descriptors and will remind you at every touch point what you want people to get from their interactions with you. Find words that are Emotional rather than Functional. You’ll always bond with someone a lot faster over emotional connections.
TRY OUT DESCRIPTORS/DRIVERS LIKE;
Curious, Exciting, Kind, Welcoming, Empowering. They are all action based emotive descriptors. Before you go into that next Big Deal Meeting – Remind yourself of these words, Be these words and Stretch to Fit these words.
WHO WILL CONNECT WITH YOU?
The next area to really look closely at is who are you dealing with? Who is your Audience? Now, that may seem clearly straight forward. Your Customer – the one you really want to buy from you. But everyone in business (Business Owner, Manager, Entrepreneur, Solopreneur, Blue Chip Sales Director) has numerous audiences, some more critical to the “Yes Decision” than others. But ignore your Influencers, Connectors, Detractors and Advocates at your peril. Build a daily awareness of these groups and their needs and trust points as they relate to you and your value message.
Make the effort to delineate those audiences, clearly. What they value, where they have knowledge gaps, what they worry about, what comes between them and a “Yes Decision”, who they need to impress, what’s relevant for them. Also keep in mind who they know, who they could refer you to or recommend you to.
Use this information to craft your personal brand, ensuring that is engaging, valuable, authentic and relevant. Build a series of messages based on your brand for each of these audiences. Show them that you are of interest and of value to them. Prove to them that you are a giver, a helper, a connector. Be authentic to yourself, your beliefs and values in a way that shows you to be the best match for them. In a way that is energising, engaging and clear. Be clear and concise in your Personal Brand. It must be easily understood by you and by those who meet you. It must be consistent, every time I meet you I know what you’ll be like; Don’t let me down, don’t confuse me or disappoint me. Rather, aim to reassure me, enlighten me and impress me.
A great authentic Personal Brand is the best calling card you can possibly have. Now all you have to do is get it out there!
“The most comprehensive professional personal branding service suite on the market today.”
We’ve been working incredibly hard to expand and target our services suite over the past few months. I have personally been working with the most incredible women in leadership positions. I have asked and listened to exactly what it is they need around their personal branding, leadership voice, communications services, advisory and positioning strategies. And we have delivered.
We have delivered over and over again in a wide variety of markets from International Advisory to Pharma, Intellectual Property, STEM, Law, Banking and Fintech.
It is an honour to work with women at this level, to service their career trajectories and to fine tune our next generation of service suite to fulfil their leadership dreams.
The quote above came from a client I have been working with for about 4 months, she is a leading director of a private bank in NYC. But I didn’t hear it from her, I heard it from a woman I was speaking at a conference with who recognised my name, as they sit together on an advisory board. She too, is now working with me.
If you are interested in learning more about this service suite and how it can transform your leadership journey or that of your leadership team feel free to give me a call and we can chat through this very strategic and fully comprehensive range of services.
Not only what are your Personal Brand Descriptors but do they drive you day to day?
When I ask people what their Personal Brand descriptors are I always, always, always get someone who says “Professional” or “Team Player” or “Multi Tasker”. Now clearly these attributes are incredibly important in a work environment but seriously, do you wake up and leap out of bed at 6am shouting “Yeay! I’m Professional”?
Really, does that drive you to challenge your self? To strive to be better? To stretch yourself? Are you proud when you meet someone new through business and the one take away they have from you is that you are “Professional”? Really?
Personal Brand Descriptors take a bit of effort. They must be authentic to you. They must be active, not passive. They should stretch you a bit. They need to be positive. Ideally they should be Emotional rather then Functional. They should be really obvious to people who meet you. They should come across at every touch point with your audiences; spoken, written, social media, video…
They are clear drivers for you every day. That’s why it’s so worth while taking the time to really work on them. Ask people who know you what words they would use to describe you. What elements of “You” do they value and why. What elements do they know are in there somewhere but they can see you keep under wraps.
Think about going to a Networking Event (Oh the Horrors!). I’m naturally quite a shy person so I abhor these events. So, without my Personal Brand Descriptors I go in to a conference and at the Networking break I’d firstly head straight to the loo for 5 minutes, then to the tea station, oh and then the iPhone calls – I look busy, unapproachable and in demand; but wont have to talk to anyone – then I head off wondering why I put myself through this because it was all a bit rubbish and I didn’t make any valuable contacts.
Now, consider I attend the “Horrors” of a networking evening armed with my own Personal Brand Descriptors; Curious, Engaging, Brave. I will go out of my way to embody these words because I know my brand and I know these are an integral part of this brand. It is not me actively going up to a stranger and asking “What encouraged you to attend tonight” it’s my brand (which I’m really proud of) because I’m being “Curious”, even if, initially, I need to force myself to do it. Then I find myself introducing someone I have just met at the tea station to someone I know through a sports club – because I am “Engaging” and I’m doing it all because despite myself I am “BRAVE”.
Don’t forget you tailor these Personal Brand Descriptors to your own authentic self so if you’re very quite and internal choose words that are authentically you but that stretch you a bit. “Listener”, “Interested” “Brave” (for a bit of Scary Spice!).
Know your story, know who you are, know your audience. Be passionate about it and let your descriptors drive you.
We are quite excited about a new feature that LinkedIn is launching today. You can now start conversations through “LinkedIn Mentions”. What this means is that you can “mention” companies and connections in your status updates and comments on the network.
If you’re familiar with Twitter mentions, you can expect LinkedIn mentions to work basically the same way. In fact, it looks as if the new feature will integrate directly with Twitter. In other words, if you mention a connection on LinkedIn, and that member has his or her Twitter account connected to LinkedIn, the mention will also show up as a Twitter mention. (This assumes that you choose to send the status update to Twitter through LinkedIn)
I’m a big fan of maximizing impact while minimizing time in social networking, and the LinkedIn mentions feature is certainly going to help with this. LinkedIn “mentions” is going to bring more of a real-time feel to the network as you will be notified as soon as anyone mentions you or your company. You will see the mentions at the top of the site under “notifications”, which is represented by the small flag symbol.
Mentioning Connections on LinkedIn
The LinkedIn Blog states the following regarding mentioning your connections:
“In addition to first-degree connections, you can also mention other LinkedIn members engaged in conversations in the comment sections of posts on the LinkedIn Homepage.”
I’ve always been an advocate for growing both the breadth and the depth of your LinkedIn network, versus limiting your connections. Every new connection is an opportunity to grow your visibility!
With the new mention feature, you will have the ability to more effectively engage your first-degree connections in updates and conversations. Additionally, you can engage in conversations beyond your first-degree connections in the home page comment sections of posts.
My hope is that you will also be able to engage with commenters on LinkedIn Influencer posts, as many those posts tend to generate lots of comments. Now, those comments may turn into true dialogue!
Mentioning Companies on LinkedIn
Why might you want to mention companies on LinkedIn through your status updates and comments?
By mentioning companies with value-added status updates or commentary, you can engage directly with the company (someone is running the page) and potentially the members who are following the company.
As with all social networking features, don’t be the person who abuses the privilege. I’m sure that with this feature we will see plenty of exploitation. Be the smart marketer and build online influence through adding value and empowering others. Use LinkedIn mentions to help other members solve problems, get smarter, and achieve more.
Below is a brief slideshow demonstrating the LinkedIn mentions feature:
What do you think? Are you excited about this new LinkedIn feature?
Originally Posted on by Stephanie Sammons
Redstorm CEO, Carol O'Kelly, is a very hugely respected, award winning, keynote speaker in the areas of Personal Branding, Strategy, Communications, Executive Presence and LinkedIn. She has a huge passion for what she does and for the clients she works with. From C-Suite Personal Branding work to Communications Strategy projects and her Advisory roles, she brings all her energy, enthusiasm and focus to her work.