I believe that everyone should have a personal website (and/or blog). Not just because it would keep my profession in high demand or the fact that I love reading "about" pages, but because everyone deserves a home on the web to create their brand. No matter if you're a doctor or a musician or a college student working a part time bartending job, you have something to share that's different from everyone else's. Yes, most of the population has at least one platform of social media, but those networks can become clogged with food photos, memes, and general status updates that don't reflect a personal brand the way a website would.
Much to the surprise of many, your brand does not entail your logo. Did you just read that and say, "what?!" It's true. Your brand is the value, message, ethics, consistency, and reputation of a self or a corporation. Your branding is the logo, color scheme, font choices, and constraints that aesthetically present the deeper meaning of your brand.
When I teach anyone about how to brand themselves, my automatic first response is coming up with an "elevator pitch". For those unfamiliar with this phenomenon, it's the idea that you're stuck in an elevator and you have the time between floors to sum up your own vision of who you are, what do you, and what value you bring to others. Your elevator pitch statement should range from one to several sentences long. It is your own vision of who you are, what do you, and what value you bring to others. It is a useful device that describes your most important endeavors, abilities, and accomplishments; at the same, it can reflect your personality, beliefs, and even your world view. Once formulated it can be cited and summoned anywhere, anytime, whether on your personal website, on social platforms, or in real conversations and communities.
Here are 4 tips to get you thinking of presenting your best self through your brand.
- Make it conversational. Write your personal branding statement in a conversational tone, as if to a friend across the table. Being simple and human is likely to impress and resonate with people more than trying to project authority. The point is to make a connection, to generate some level of chemistry with the other person. Convey your statement in a manner that is open and personable, rather than formalized behind a stone wall of professional propriety. Avoid 3rd person - by definition it just doesn’t sound like it’s coming from you.
- Have different versions. Assemble your personal branding statement in detachable, standalone parts, so that you can select and adapt various bits depending on the platform and purpose. One size does not fit all - you may need your statement lightened for social media, shortened for an email signature tagline, lengthened for your career bio, or specially focused for particular conversations.
- Reflect your core beliefs, values, and causes. Impress with a voice that says: “It’s not just about me, but something much bigger”. Values, beliefs, and causes connect people on a deep level. It doesn’t matter whether you’re in a technical, artistic, or business field - a mere few words revealing true personal culture, can connect even strangers more quickly and powerfully than polished descriptions of abilities and accomplishments. Take some time to realize what matters most to you, and convey that.
- Show your unique value. Above all, differentiate yourself. Weave a story that defines you uniquely. Write a personal branding statement that could describe no one else but you. Because if not, and your statement is just a lifeless job description of your functional areas, then ultimately you are replaceable, unremarkable in the eyes of others. That would defeat the whole purpose of personal branding. Showing your uniqueness and individuality is the best way to breathe life into your personal branding statement. Everyone has a unique set of values, passions, and attributes that drives them in work and in life. Know what it is that makes you the individual you are, and no one can ever dismiss that. That is what will make others want to know you, connect with you, and work with you.
Your personal branding statement doesn’t need to be perfect right away when defining the message. You will naturally find yourself tinkering with your statement over time to reflect changes and advancements in your life and career, especially if those trajectories are still shifting.
Need a little bit more of a push on why this should be important in your professional path?
By discovering your personal brand, you can start to take better control of your image by making yourself known to others in an authentic way. The personal branding process identifies ways to accurately reflect and amplify your brand to enhance your recognition, reputation and credibility. This includes showcasing your personal brand through different strategies, such as publicity, publishing, networking, and social media. The right brand visibility is important in both professional and personal arenas; it builds your reputation and helps others to better understand who you are and what you stand for. A strong personal brand can help attract new business and uncover opportunities as recruiters and colleagues hear about you or discover you online.
Last but not least, understanding your personal brand can help to define your personal and professional direction. Clarifying your goals and ambitions encourages you to focus and use time and energy into actualizing your purpose and vision. In this way, personal branding becomes your compass to chart a course to your destination, in both your professional and personal life.