For many professionals, the idea of establishing a brand identity seems a bit too confining since we are all multi-skilled and want to leverage the power of wearing more than just one simple hat on the job or in leadership.
The way you present yourself in your interaction with others is an essential part of your personal leadership strategy. It’s not about creating an image of yourself that’s unreal, but rather it's more about highlighting those qualities in you - those innate skills and abilities - that set you apart as an individual and a leader.
The ultimate purpose of leading through personal branding is to find those elements that will let you take your brand to the next level in your interactions with others.
Build Your Story
Without a story, our brand is only half-functional, at best. A story brings life to our career path and trajectory and showcases how our identity has become what it is today. If you want to be known for skills that aren’t in your brand repository yet, figure out a way to get them in there. Expose yourself and get involved in opportunities that will allow you the chance to grow or hone a skill you want others to perceive as an essential component of the talents you bring to the table.
Make yourself visible. This means whether you take on a volunteer project or decide to run a new team in your department or lead a project, be open to share about it and be cognizant to practice the skill you want others to see in you while doing this activity. The more you move with intention, the more your intention to identify with a new skill will resonate with others around you, thus helping to build your story.
Your story needs to align with who you are, where you’ve been and where you’re going - in your professional environment, personal networking and online presence. No one knows your story other than you and no one will create your story for you. But if you don’t present your story right, others will presume a story based on the information they have of you, and that may or may not speak truly to your personal brand.
Live Out Loud
In the end, your brand is more than just how you describe yourself or the story you share. It has to be backed up with real-time accomplishment. Once you know how you want to build your brand, create an image that is congruent with that brand.
Use social media and your personal connections as an opportunity to leverage your brand identity by sharing information, speaking on your skills and abilities, giving feedback and advice, and building your name in the niche of skills that you own. If you have certifications, courses and training, or awards related to your innate skills and abilities, talk about them, post them, share them. Live out loud about who you are and bring your talents to others' attention.
Go beyond 9-5 to establish your brand identity. Who you are doesn’t stop at the office, but goes on with you when you are home with your family, out with your friends, or engaging with your community. Empower these events to escalate your personal branding even further.
Ultimately, the way you present yourself needs to be concise and streamlined where the vision and growth of your brand is evident across a variety of mediums. Brands that are too diversified often don’t stand for something valuable. By highlighting your select skills and abilities, creating your story and living it out loud, you can make sure that you are leading your personal brand where you want to take it.