Well, what do you think? Do you need a personal brand?
I’d argue that it’s not a case of ‘need’. Actually, we all have a personal brand. Instead, the question should be ‘how effective is it’? And how is it contributing to your business objectives?
Defining a personal brand
Before we get into the detail of potential effectiveness, we need to define what a personal brand actually is. To me, it’s about how people perceive you. The impression that people are left with after that first meeting. And the practice of personal branding is how you build on those perceptions in the longer term.
So ask yourself…
Do you want to be seen as a thought leader? An innovator? An expert in your field?
Do you want to count yourself among the ‘elite’? Or do you see yourself as more a man (or woman) of the people?
Do you want people to idolise you? Or are you down to earth, and welcome approaches from anybody and everybody?
The process of defining your own personal brand means asking yourself all these questions, and more besides.
The power of first impressions.
First impressions start off with what people see. When you enter a room or when they see a picture of you in print or on social media. It’s how you dress and style yourself. Are you edgy, bohemian or classic? Formal or more relaxed?
When I first started working for myself, this was one of my very first considerations. Did I want to be a ‘suited and booted’ -type of a consultant (and therefore target large, more affluent clients)? Or did I want to work with the smaller businesses?
My natural home definitely isn’t a power suit and heels. It’s jeans and a jumper, or a fairly casual dress and ballet pumps. And this works especially well for when I work with one-person businesses. It makes me more approachable, more down to earth, and more relatable.
But when I work with larger organisations, and especially when I work with government representatives and other professional bodies, I dress more formally. The intention being to make me appear more knowledgeable. More reputable. And more professional.
In print and online
But it’s not just about how you look. Or the way people perceive you when you physically walk into the room. It’s about the impression you get when someone sees an image of you, hears you speak, or reads something you have written.
My first piece of advice on this point would be to find the perfect photographer. They are all different, and it’s so important that they are able to capture the essence of your personal brand and its accompanying objectives exactly, and in a style that works.
In my case, both of the images above were taken by the incredibly talented Stephanie Cronin of Summers Photography, who is also our resident Photography Expert. She took the time to understand me as a person, and the personal brand that I wanted to achieve. And she managed to capture both ‘sides’ of it perfectly, as you can see from the images above. Then once you have images that work, you will feel confident in showing them to the world!
Let your personal brand be heard!
We’ve focussed a lot on where your personal brand is seen. But let’s not forget you need to be heard too! If you want to be known as a thought leader, people need to know what you think!
But where are those conversations happening? Who is joining them? And how could you contribute? This might be on social media, or by having an article published. Or equally it could be in person through presentations, workshops or through networking. But it still comes back to one question – how do people perceive you? And most importantly, how are those perceptions contributing to the achievement of your objectives?
So to answer the question…
So to answer the question… it’s not a question of whether you need a personal brand. It’s a question of whether you are using yours effectively. And if you aspire to be an entrepreneur, or indeed you already have your own business, harnessing the power of a strong personal brand is crucial! The way you present yourself affects not just your potential as an individual. Your personal brand affects how people perceive your business. And therefore your future success.
(And by the way, we think it’s so important that we’ve devoted a whole module to it!)