There has been a lot of talk about personal branding. We live in a digital age, yes. We leave behind a digital footprint, yep. We need to take control of our online presence to stand out and excel in our careers, sure. What a lot of people are not talking about however is the fact a personal brand is not about spin or in other words pretending to be something you are not.
Seems a strange statement coming from a former celebrity publicist and someone who built her career representing one of the world’s leading supermodels, but it is the truth and I have never believed in spin.
The worst thing you can do is ‘think’ about what your personal brand ‘should’ be in order to stand out. You will only ever stand out when you are entirely true to yourself. To think through the process is to undoubtedly try to imitate others or even worse, hide behind corporate jargon because you think it makes you sound more intelligent. We are all human and it is that human ‘being-ness’ that connects us. Feeling your way through the process may prove to be more helpful.
Last year I consulted with a woman who is a heavyweight in the HR industry. She was taking a sabbatical out of sheer exhaustion after working on an international multi-billion dollar merger. The timeout allowed her to focus on creative projects that had been simmering away in the back of her consciousness. Of all things, she was writing a children’s book and came to me with the question of how to manage her personal brand going forward.
Up until the point of our meeting, she was quite content with keeping the two worlds separate. In one world she was a serious corporate woman to be taken seriously. In the other, she was a children’s author writing about star chasing and intergalactic adventures (it is an amazing book by the way!). Surely the two world’s could not coexist? Wrong.
Her question to me was – “What if I go back into the corporate world?”
My response- “Would you want to work for a company that didn’t embrace all of you?”
Eventually, we found the magic spot. That special place where all the things she loved, the things she was good at, her previous experience and the vision she had for the future, came together in spectacular fashion. It was not about turning her back on her corporate career or putting a spin on her profile, it was about finding a genuine place where all her worlds co-existed. Through purposeful reflection and inner questioning, she found her personal brand. It felt right.
I can hear you questioning my understanding of company social media policy and professional boundaries. Common sense must prevail and sure there needs to be a strategy in place. There has to be a balance, If your personal brand is too far removed from who you genuinely are as a person, are you in the right place, to begin with?
There is a certain magical quality to people who are unashamedly them self. Those who genuinely lead their lives with their heart and trust their intuition are in the best position to find their purpose. To live out the full expression of who you want to be is to give yourself the freedom to discover your real potential.
When it comes to building a personal brand, there are no rules. In fact, it is when you follow the rules, you are more than likely heading in the wrong direction.
There are plenty of smart and savvy ways to promote your brand once you have established it, but no one can tell you what your personal brand is. You have to find that yourself and in doing so create a world where you get to enjoy all aspects of yourself simultaneously. You get to be the real you. I see the greatest role I play with my clients, to ask questions and inspire them to find clarity from a deep place within. It is about seeking the truth rather than simply putting a spin on your online profile. Take the time to find your personal brand and create a life, not just a living.