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Revealing your personal brand

A personal brand. Is that even a thing? Don’t you mean the impression you make?

I’ve been asked this before. And it’s easy to mistake an impression for a personal brand. They’re not the same. In fact, the former is just one facet of building your personal brand.

Let me elaborate. The impression you leave is how you show up in each moment. It could be authentically you, well groomed, very polite, and attentive. Or it could be a persona you present befitting a context, such as an executive meeting, or a pitch presentation. And thereafter you revert to ‘normal’ you. Which only a handful of people may know about, very rarely the whole audience.

Your personal brand is transformative ‘normal’ you, and how you bring that authenticity every single time to any occasion. You could be a tough negotiator in the boardroom and be absolutely crushed when you see animals mistreated. Both are strengths and character traits that will work in different situations, and powerful when enhanced i.e. you advocate and build on both.

Your personal brand is built on your values, mannerisms, behaviours – regardless of context. Its strong and unique, and that is what will stand out.

A couple of years ago, I orchestrated a pitch presentation quite differently to what was protocol for the company I worked for at the time. My colleagues and I opted to be authentic, and one of those elements of authenticity was being thoughtful about those we were presenting to. The clients sitting around the boardroom table had completed a full day work and had been stuck in presentations the whole afternoon and into the evening, with us being the last presentation of the day. We knew they would be tired, so we took in mini Bar One chocolates to help them sustain their energy to listen to us and get home safe to their waiting families. We analogised the Bar One to the dynamic and young trio standing in front of them, presenting a case for investing not only with us (the company), but in us (the rising talent in the company). We shared some history and background that brought our personal brands to the fore. My colleagues and I walked out of that pitch knowing that we not only showed up, but we shone brighter than we ever had.

We didn’t win the pitch. But, little did we realise that our personal brands had won the day. Late in 2019, I received a call from one of those clients who had sat around that table. He was eating a Bar One and thinking about how he was sad that I was no longer engaging with him in that role, because he felt I was genuine, and different. My personal brand elicited a response of trust, integrity and authenticity from him. We’re now collaborating in my current business, and long may that continue.

How do you go about building your personal brand?

  1. Know your purpose.

The more you can crystallise this, the more it shows off in everything you do, because of the choices you make. Read our article on 3 ways to define your purpose, to get you started.

  1. What is your story?

Your story is unique to you. Your life experiences, achievements, failures, moments of joy and tragedy. Think about how you can share those and show how that has shaped you into the strengths you possess and your work in progress areas too. Humanise yourself to gain traction with people you encounter. Some may feel that sharing a story is too personal, and that you need to build trust first. See it as a journey towards building mutual trust instead, give and take.

  1. Get on the elevator and make that pitch

Condense your story into memorable 5-minute mini-stories. Leave enough traces of your purpose and values in there to build rapport and a sense of ease from the recipient. Not only will you be remembered, you will be sought out before anyone else is, even if that isn’t directly your area of expertise. Start by prioritising your unique list i.e. what it is in your story that makes you stand apart from the crowd. Use that to build your elevator pitch.

  1. Value your people encounters

An innocuous introduction one day, could lead to a sustainable relationship in many other ways down the line. Creating a simple touchpoint in a moment with a person is all that it takes. Conversation starters can be derived from your story also, because it may resonate with others. So, find that touchpoint and make it your own go-to tool. The key way to discover it will be through actively listening and making others feel that they have been heard, before offering more about yourself and your experiences.

  1. Take stock, revisit and update

Sometimes one can get swayed by external factors that lead you down a different path than originally identified. It’s necessary to press pause regularly and to take stock of where you are, how you got there and if that is where you want to be. Any niggle of doubt means you’re deviating from your purpose and possibly even some of your values. It also means your personal brand is shifting and not in a positive manner. Doing this revisit of your purpose means realignment and focusing again on what truly makes you unique.

Go on then, #FindYourPrerna and be yourself again, because everyone else is taken.