Make no mistake, your personal brand is a reflection of who you are and want to be: your values, your motives, your professional goals. Your identity! They are translated into how you act in the workplace, on an interview, and how you promote yourself in social networks. But you cannot use your brand to move forward if you do not know what makes it unique. Think Steve Jobs, Elon Musk, Oprah (no need of the surname) and Richard Branson.
So, how do you focus your personal identity in a way that others understand and the world appreciates?
First, concentrate on these seven things that you can control and ditch anything else you cannot control:
1. Know your professional values
What are your core values?
Most people cannot easily answer this question. But if you have not articulated what your core values are, and you come across as uncertain, how can you be sure that you are projecting a powerful and congruent personal brand?
The short answer is: you cannot. The good news is: there is a solution to your problem.
2. Define your core values
Try this exercise: first write down ten of your most valuable values, such as integrity, family, business, integrity, adventure, freedom or achievement. Then reduce this list to the top five – those which are most important to you. Ask yourself: “What damage will it do if someone does not believe that this is true of me?”
What is the cost? Reputation. Relationships. Wealth.
3. Embody your values with a flag phrase
From here you can develop a way to take your values into account with a flag phrase, a short statement, something easily digestible on social platforms or in brief meetings.
For example, my colleague’s brand is embodied in the phrase: “leans to sharp edges”, as she gives priority to growth, on-going coaching and calculated risk taking.
4. Set the time for self-reflection
Fact: We rarely find time to sit, stop, and reflect. However, to live purposefully and in accordance with our brand, we need to find time for reflection.
At a minimum, once a month schedule time to calmly reflect on your goals, and perform an internal audit. If you’re wondering, I do this weekly.
· What steps am I taking to live out my core values?
· What are my current goals and how am I moving towards them?
· What will empower me to live the life of my core values?
· How do I self-sabotage?
· What do I need to let go of to fully live the life I want?
5. Cultivate role models
Role models embody what we wish to achieve, and motivate us to achieve our goals. They also help us to constantly rethink our brand and update our professional goals.
Most people won’t be lucky enough to have the perfect role model already there in their workplace – so you have to go out and find them!
Start thinking abundantly: No scarcity. Who do I admire? Note that you are unlikely to find every admirable quality embodied in one single person. So, focus on a number of people who share your values and illustrate the life you want for yourself.
6. Seek mentorship
Once you’ve identified your role models, reach out! Invite them to lunch or to meet for coffee.
Remember, the worst response you may receive is no – therefore you have nothing to lose.
If your ideal role models are public figures then reach out virtually. Follow them through social networks, especially LinkedIn, and look for opportunities to connect. Pay attention to the types of habits that they have, the way they are presented, and the steps they have taken to get to where they are today.
7. Take calculated risks that are consistent with your brand
We talk a lot about risk, but how do you know which risks are worth it?
The answer is simple: those that match your core values and thus your personal brand.
When deciding whether to jump, ask yourself:
· Will this opportunity allow me to do more of what I love?
· Am I holding back because of instinctive fear or legitimate concerns?
· Does this step allow me to embody my core values?
· Will this action take me closer to, or further from, my goals?
· Am I living my life playing small? What new possibilities exist that will allow me to play a bigger game with greater freedom and independence?
Asking these questions will ensure that you take only risks that will bring you the greatest benefits, and that you are taking your career and life in the right direction.
In short, your brand should be your personal compass. Following your passions and finding ways to pass this passion on to others, you create a brand that inspires, engages and ultimately monetizes your personal value.
Now take the bull by the horns and go for it!