Last night @SOCIALDEVIANT we hosted an amazing group from She SaysChicago, and I (along with fellow DEVIANT Elisha-Rio Apilado) had a chance to participate on the panel discussing one of my favorite topics: Building Your Personal Brand.
There’s been a lot written and said and blogged and lectured on this topic, so I’ll first offer a huge caveat. I am by no means a life coach, or personal branding expert – but I have spent 25 years managing my career, and my brand, and here’s what I’ve learned:
1. Your Brand Must Be Authentic. You can’t pose, you can’t posture. Find the thing(s) that’s really, really true about you, and build your brand around that.
2. A Brand Is What It Does, Not What it Says. Make sure you live your brand. If you are a writer, write. If you are a baker, bake. And showcase that writing and baking for all to see. Show, Don’t Tell.
3. Find Your Passion. This is not a sermon about living your dream. But you should build your brand around your passions…show the world what you’re really interested in, and how you’ve expressed that interest. If you’re interested, then you’re interesting.
4. Find Your SuperPower. Find something you’re better at than anyone…be GREAT and lean into that superpower. And make sure your brand reflects that.
5. The Softer Side of You. Don’t try too hard to focus on your functional expertise. The best companies hire folks because of who they are, not what they can do. Show your personal attributes and highlight them – things like listening, showing up on time, collaborating broadly, persistence, and curiosity. These are all characteristics that people care about, and will compel them to want to know you.
6. The Power of One (Thing). Be really careful about trying to be too many things to too many people. Most companies, including SOCIALDEVIANT, hire for a specific skill. Be really, really great at one thing – depth vs. breadth. The world is too full of generalists – don’t be afraid to specialize.
7. Brands Stretch. Brands evolve, and stretch over time. Don’t be afraid to re-assess often to ensure you’re hitting on your passions and that your brand is resonating. Stay true, but stay relevant.
8. Finally, Be Craved. Ask yourself, when you are really drawn to someone, what is it about them that compels you? Find that thing about you that others crave, and lean into it.
Don’t be shy, do be humble, and above all, have some fun. Building your personal brand is all about self expression – and talking about yourself should be easy as it’s a topic that you likely know more about than anything else in the world.