Guest blog post written by Lori Bumgarner, M.Ed., Passion & Career Coach at paNASH
As a business owner, you understand the importance of having a solid brand for your company. You’ve likely poured time and money into creating just the right branding concept that communicates to your audience exactly what your company is all about.
But have you ever given any thought to your personal brand? Because you do have one, whether you realize it or not.
The Importance of a Personal Brand
There are certain things people think of when they hear your name. Do you know what those things are?
For example, I’ve had the pleasure of working with Justin Hill, CEO and founder of Hill Productions & Media Group, in a variety of capacities and on various projects. In that time, I’ve gotten to know Justin the person, not just Justin the CEO. When I think of him, I immediately think of someone who:
- Has integrity.
- Cares about building strong and successful relationships.
- Delivers excellence in his work.
- Respects people’s time.
- Doesn’t cut corners.
- Really listens to others.
- Is a good leader.
It’s obvious from Justin’s personal brand that he’s this way in every aspect of his life, and not just in business. His personal brand is authentic.
An authentic and consistent personal brand leads to success, and the trust it creates results not only in repeat business but stronger relationships.
Understanding your personal brand helps you build personal and professional relationships, carries you through your life and calling (not just one assignment in your career), and makes tough decisions a little easier to make.
How Do You Figure Out What Your Own Personal Brand Is?
Sometimes it’s hard to know what your own personal brand is, especially if you’ve never taken the time to reflect on your life or listen to others’ perspective.
Even if you think you know your brand, I’ve discovered from my work with my clients there are often surprises and unexpected “light bulb” moments after they’ve gone through my coaching process on personal branding.
The first key to developing a strong personal brand is to find out what your current brand is. What do other people think of when they think of you?
One way to do this is by conducting a little fieldwork. Send an email to five or more people, including friends, family, co-workers, acquaintances, etc. from your various circles.
Ask them for a list of the things they think of when they think of you. Emphasize to them they should include both positive AND negative examples.
Tell them not to be shy, but instead to be completely honest. Let them know it’s SAFE for them to share some negative things because you’ll use the feedback for constructive purposes.
Also, before beginning this exercise, make sure you’re in a place where you can receive both positive and negative criticism. You have to be open to stepping a bit outside your comfort zone to complete this exercise.
If you’re the type who’s easily offended, you may have to give yourself a little extra time with this exercise so you don’t immediately react to your initial emotions.
Give everyone a deadline of about five days to get this info back to you. You don’t want them to take too much time in providing their responses because you want them to go with the first things that come to mind about you.
How to Process the Feedback
Once you receive this important feedback, ask yourself these questions:
- What patterns do I notice from the feedback? Is there one description of me that comes up multiple times from multiple people?
- Does a particular description mean something different to me than it does to the responder? Could you have different definitions from each other?
- What do I find surprising about people’s viewpoint of me?
- Is this what I want to be known for? Or do I want to work on improving or adjusting my personal brand?
When answering these questions, also think about whom your total audience is that’s influenced by your personal values and unique differentiators.
Your total audience of course includes the people in your business (customers/clients, investors, employees, vendors, strategic partners, etc.).
And it also includes people from other aspects of your life (family, friends, acquaintances, your community, your church, the people you serve, the people you serve with, etc.).
Make a list of your various audiences and put it with the feedback you received from the sampling of your audience. You’ll need this information later on in upcoming posts as we work through the process of building an authentic personal brand.
In the meantime marinate on the feedback and think about how you want to nurture your personal brand moving forward.
I’ll soon reveal the next step of this exciting expedition. Stay tuned!
Lori Bumgarner is the owner of paNASH, a passion and career coaching service that helps people get unstuck and pursue their passions and find work they love.