When you think of personal branding, you likely think about someone who runs their own business – a contractor who is always looking for their next job. But the truth is that the job landscape has shifted and we are all essentially contractors.
The first rule of personal branding is To Thine Own Self Be True.
Whenever I work with clients on personal branding, the questions tend to be other-focused. They want to know what people want so they can address that. They see that as the way to be successful. They ask questions about how they can shape themselves to be what others want.
The question I’d prefer they start with is “How can I accurately express who I am in social media?”
Everyone has strengths and weaknesses and obviously we want to project those strengths while down-playing any weaknesses. But problems start when we begin building our brand based on what we think we should do and what we feel people want us to be rather than building on the foundation of who we are.
I think that happens because it can be easier to research what people want and put that out there rather than learning who we are.
When we start with what we think others want, we can be far off from hitting the mark. Even if we do, we’ll probably draw clients and customers who are poorly suited to our skill set and offerings. Worse, we’re likely to start really hating our job because we’re contorting ourselves into something we’re not.
If you’re reading this and feeling like you don’t know where to start, the MBTI (Myers Briggs Type Indicator) can be helpful, especially if you get some help in analyzing what the results mean to you. If you’re an introvert, but feel you must really put yourself out there as an extrovert, you’re likely to be pretty miserable. Human Metrics provides a quick, free quiz with details on what your type says about you.
The Enneagram is another quick quiz that can give you some insights into what motivates you, what you fear, what’s important to you. The Enneagram Institute offers a free quiz and a good deal of information on each type.
Look at the results through the lens of your online reputation. What are the most attractive features of your true personality? What can you highlight that would be of value to potential clients/customers?
When you come from this place, you’re more likely to attract customers who are like-minded. And that means both you and your customer are probably going to be pretty happy. You’ll understand each other so you’ll have less miscommunication and a more productive relationship. You’ll both be more comfortable and feel more satisfied working together. You’re more able to be confident in yourself because what you’re putting out there is authentic – and your client feels that. They’re thrilled with your service and happy to refer you to others.
Potential employers will look for you online and you want your reputation to precede you…in a good way!