Most people in business understand the need to build brand equity at the corporate level or for products, services, intellectual property, etc., but very few understand the substantial benefits that are created from increasing their personal brand equity.
In today’s competitive workplace, distinguishing yourself significantly from your peers can be a challenge. it’s not just about “getting a job”—it’s about building your own personal brand. But what does that mean—“personal brand”? Much like the brands that we all know, such as Coke, Nike, or McDonald’s, your personal brand in the workplace is a combination of the product you offer (i.e., your job performance), the values that you embody, and how the two work together to create the “wholeness” that is you.
A personal brand is much more than a job title: It’s a holistic look at your goals, passions and values and how those figure into—and enhance—what you offer an employer. Oftentimes, it’s the individuals who truly know what makes them interesting, compelling, and differentiated who stand out from their peers. These people capitalize on their differences, parlaying them into an advantage. A personal branding can be the thing that will give you an edge, catch the eye of the people.
Of course, a personal brand is only as good as the reputation you are able to build around its unique promise of value—and what you ultimately deliver. Consequently, authenticity and honesty become the most important building blocks for your personal brand.
No matter where you are on the corporate ladder—starting out, a rising star or an established leader—personal branding is absolutely vital to your success. After all, numerous others may have your job title, but only a few might share your vision and appreciate the particular talents you offer. If you connect with the individuals and companies that value your “mission” in the world, you will have a much greater chance for success. No full-proof path exists for building a personal brand, but you can take steps that will help you create the best personal brand for you.
Before you head off to storm the castle, you’ll need a plan of attack and a few important tools. You need certain traits that will carry you and your vision in places you’ll walk in.
By far the most important thing you need is an intense passion for your cause, and carry it with a conviction that cannot be hindered by critics or your own shortcomings. You have to be willing to give it your all, and for a long time with potentially few rewards. In the short run, few people will notice, but in the long run, everyone will. Or at least, everyone you need to influence in your campaign will notice.
What sets you apart? Where will your tipping point be? What will the world look like with you in charge? You can also call this your elevator pitch. If you had two minutes with anyone in the world who has the power to influence the rest of your life, what would you say to them? “Hi, my name is _____, I’m currently in ________, and I’m going to _________.”
There must be a reason why you’re doing what you’re working on right now other than giving you the money that you’re getting. (You’re receiving the money that you get because of you are good at what you do.) What do you, and why are you doing it. Is there a special reason? A story behind it? What made you decide to it? Whether you are just starting out in business or if you have been at it for a long time OR somewhere in between, there’s a compelling reason or motivation to do the things you are doing day in and day. If you are a “brand”, you must have a “brand story”. Your story could spark inspiration.
As we’ve seen here, you can’t just take over the world for yourself. You have to add value to others, or no one will want to help you. Therefore, you need to have skills that will radically improve the lives of others. Does your world domination plan have an educational component?
Here is the interesting thing about this: when you take the time to become a real expert in something highly specialized that really adds value to the world, the people you help will start looking to you for answers about seemingly unrelated topics. It’s always better to start highly focused and then work outwards than to begin with a broad, unspecific mandate.
You need to recruit a small army of committed believers who will support your cause and add their own resources in support of it. How many people do you need? Well, obviously it varies, but 100 true fans is a great start. In fact, a small, devoted army is far better than a large, uncommitted mob.
You can tap into networks, or even create a network. As example, I advocate the Philippine Traditional Street Games in our country, and I have sports coordinators in key cities. My coordinators don’t only coordinate with local Barangays, but with school officials; and two years ago, they have networked a data-base of 80,000 retail stores where they are loading Larong Pinoy toys and creating product promos for corporate sponsors of the games in communities. Now, isn’t that’s a vast multiplier to the small army?
A small army is critical, but in the long run, the friends of your friends may end up helping even more. This is because of the phenomenon called “the strength of weak ties.” In 1973, sociologist Mark Granovetter published a controversial article claiming that “weak ties,” or friends of friends, are responsible for the majority of new jobs and opportunities we encounter. This claim runs contradictory to the classical understanding of efficient markets, and Granovetter even showed how most new information we acquire in our daily lives comes from extended social networks.
Your goal will probably require some amount of money. How much do you need? Simply put, you need enough money to accomplish the goal—no more, no less. Figure out what the true cost is and then figure out how to get it. Work the math out backwards.
For example, I figured out that visiting the entire regions of the Philippines would cost me an amount of money that would be equal to buying a brand new S.U.V. When I saw the costs and the relative value for both, I felt encouraged. I gave up the hypothetical large vehicle and “discovered” the Philippines. In “discovering” the Philippines, I discovered myself and many other priceless things. It was worth the investment.
You have to be able to devote significant time to improving your skills. You don’t just want to be good enough; you want to be remarkable. What this means is different for everyone — some people are able to their goals in their off hours, while others will need more time.
Some people get up at 4:00 a.m. every day to study, or work on things other than their jobs. This strategy doesn’t work for everyone, however, because many people find that their 9-5 commitment steals their best energy from them. In these cases, you’ll need to make some major adjustments. or even create a 8th day during the week.
Indeed, social networking is here to stay, but you also need some kind of “pulpit”. You need to be able to speak to your army directly.
This can be done through a web site, a blog, a newsletter, an email list, a phone broadcast, or something else. You can’t create just a virtual army, you need to have real faces in front of you. You will need to go out in the fields, put in the trenches, where it matters most.
The above list may not be fully complete. And there are certainty other things that people will expect from you — some are necessary, and other that are completely unnecessary.
This list of ignorable expectations includes:
• Everything the gatekeepers expect from you
These are all the things you DON’T NEED.
I’m probably going to make some people angry with that sentence, but my goal to present the truth. And the truth is that if you want to achieve your most significant goals, and you want to transform the world for the better in the process, you really don’t need to jump through all the hoops that people hold up for you.
In the past, you had to keep checking boxes in application forms and ticking tasks off the expectations list for a long time before anyone would listen to you and get an audience.
But guess what? Life is different now. You are your own specialist in your field of expertise. If you have something of merit to bring to the table, serve it.
Your personal brand is a reflection of your greatest strengths. Identify what those are, and then make that the ground you stand on.
If you need consultancy on your career, or a business plan… give me a call. I may have a few cents of ideas which you can turn into paperbucks of a plan that will lift you up. Tel. No. 514-5868.
Keep the fire burning!