It’s called Personal Branding For a Reason
What is the first thing you do after you meet a new influencer, co-worker, or industry colleague? Most people start by Googling them, which leads to a LinkedIn profile, then an outdated Twitter (with one post), and maybe an association they add their name to at some point in their career (exceptions to this sequence apply). A Personal brand is the sum of experience that others have with who you are. Less than 15% of leaders know how to develop their personal brand according to leadership surveys conducted by Forbes. Many of us have witnessed the catastrophe that typically occurs when a leader makes an attempt to develop a brand; they’re likely to unintentionally launch into self-promotion that taint their professional reputations and make their colleagues begin to question their objectives.
The important thing to remember with a personal brand is that you are the only one that can completely manage your brand’s progression (positively or negatively). The people you do business for/with, the mentors you seek guidance from, the companies you work for- all influence your aptitude to strengthen or aid in weakening your personal brand.
Often, when leaders don’t want to or don’t know how to control their personal brand they let colleagues, office culture, and/or client relationships define their personal brand. Too often a leader ends up being defined as "That guy who works for XYZ Company" and personal characteristics are replaced with organizational characteristics. A leader may actually be tenacious and relatable, but if they let other people and factors (i.e. a recession, company cuts, etc.) define them, the leader could turn into money-driven and intimidating quickly and permanently. This counters the very premise of a personal brand because you are putting your reputation development in the hands of others. Of course, external factors are important and play large roles in personal development, but you know your ideal types of workplace cultures, the networks you should and would like to belong to, and how you can best support the improvement of others while feeling personally fulfilled.
Authenticity goes the longest way in personal branding. Perfection in an individual is too unattainable and others know it, so don’t strive for the illusion of perfection. Strive for authenticity and a personal brand that you would feel confident endorsing. The majority of people we talk to through our HRoundtable groups and other outlets want to be led by those who are relevant and reachable, but also honest and with strong intentions. It is easy to get lost in your organization’s brand or the culture that your immerse yourself in daily, but there is power in taking control of how others understand you as a leader.
Are you managing your brand or allowing your organization to direct its path?
Idea spurred by: Forbes