Why care about your brand?
Because if you don’t, who will?
You’ve been working hard for years and feel you deserve rewards for your thought leadership and expertise – am I right? How do you think you’re going to get those rewards? Reality is you can wait and take your chances at success or you can make things happen.
Have you Googled yourself lately? Does the first page of results represent who you are and what you want people to see about you? It is up to you to tend your reputation on-line. You don’t get noticed by accident. You are the brand of YOU and you need to be presenting you OUT LOUD and SOCIAL for everyone to see.
My Father’s Advice Was Right For Then – But Wrong For Now
My father always told me that if I worked hard for a company for 25 years, kept my ‘nose to the grind stone,’ and showed my loyalty, I would have a successful career. That made sense 60 years ago. You see, my Dad was born to immigrant parents, in New York City, in 1912. He was the first reinvented person I knew. He was unemployed and penny-less during the Great Depression, and found meaningful employment as part of Franklin D. Roosevelt’s New Deal program, the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC). (The CCCs put thousands of unemployed young men to work on public projects.) After World War II, my Dad returned as a wounded veteran and became a dress salesman. By the late 1950’s he owned his own dress manufacturing business in New York’s garment district. My Dad know nothing about self branding or reinventing himself (though he did attend the original Dale Carnegie seminar – I have the first printing of the book to prove it). Only movie stars, musicians, and artist branded themselves. (Think Picasso or Liberace). The advice he gave me in the ’70s, when I graduated college, was true at the time: join a company and become part of a big family. The company will take care of you. And, if you are a good girl, and waited patiently, when the time is right, you will move up the corporate ladder, position by position. That, of course, was then and this is now.
In 2013, your work life is about your value as an individual. You are not seeing many people staying in one company forever anymore. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that in January 2012, the median number of years that wage and salary workers had been with their current employer was 4.6. The fact is that people are staying in companies for shorter periods of time because employees are focused on building their personal skills/capabilities (resume) and then, when their current assignment is complete, selling themselves to the highest bidder. The philosophy of one-company loyalty, or living the ‘company life,’ for one’s whole career, is a thing of the past. Most people I work with at IBM have been in the company less than 5 year. It is a new day, Dad.
Personal Branding doesn’t work if you don’t believe in yourself. I am not talking about a ‘fake it until you make it’ self talk. You need to have confidence in your skills and in the you that you’re presenting to the outside world. On the internet, fakery is exposed in seconds. You need to know the keywords that make up YOU. That’s something my Dad never had to think about. He was a keen salesman and walked the streets of Manhattan for years with a sample bag under his arm. His business, like all business, was about relationships. Everyone knew his values and what he stood for before he even walked in the door. You could say, “his reputation, preceded him.” But that can only happen when you know who are you are.
Your personal brand should be as clear in the minds of others as it is in your own. For example, what comes to your mind when you think of: Modonna, Donald Trump, or David Beckham? I think Modanna – rockstar, musical innovator, and sexy bras; Donald Trump – big buildings, return from bankruptcy, strange hair, and The Apprentice TV show; David Beckham – footballer (soccer), Spice Girl Victoria, Manchester United, and tattoos.
Why do these people stand out in your mind? What unique things are the identifying features of their brand? What are your unique identifying features?
If you are not cheering for yourself, why should anyone else? Like I said above, you need to believe in your capabilities. Do a good job with knowing what you have to offer and then have confidence in those qualities. If you are a Baker, but you think you make lousy cupcakes, who is going to buy them? In today’s day and age, those who wait to be selected, rarely are. The winners are not the ones that wait nicely and ask permission to move ahead. They are the people who took the moment into their own hands.
“The real trick is to not wait, but to pick yourself. To “turn pro” in your head. To believe you can do what you’re asking others to believe about you.” [Jeff Goins, Stop Waiting To Be Picked]
Are you your own worst enemy? I have watched many people, especially women, make light of their accomplishments. It is hard sometimes not be self-depreciating but it is important to learn to accept praise sincerely without belittling your accomplishments. When someone gives you a compliment, do you ever say “Oh, it was nothing,” when it was really a good piece of work? You should take the credit – even for the small stuff.
I want you to notice how young people have no trouble showing all their life’s tiny moments in the open on Facebook or Twitter? Taking a lesson from the kids, the power of showing the world positive little accomplishments builds up into a wonderful celebration of achievements and, when viewed from the outside, a nice portfolio of accomplishments. You probably have no trouble Facebooking your kid’s minor accomplishments: “Sally got the role of the lobster in the Christmas play” or “Fido rolled over.”. But when it comes to ourselves we tend to be self-defeating and we undervalue what we have done. Don’t lose the importance of the small stuff. Celebrate your wins in the open and let people know how awesome you are.
Attitude Adjustment Homework: Blowing Your Horn
- Make a list of accomplishments you are proud of. They don’t all have to be related to work. You should include goals that you have met, skills you have cultivated, and problems that you have solved.
- Select 1 or 2 of the accomplishments on your list.
- Create a plan to publish highlights of your accomplishments across your social channels over the next 30 days. [Note: Having a plan keeps you from drowning your audience with too much of your good thing – which can be a turn off.]
Would you rather be the pickee or the picker?
Keep up the good attitude. See you next blog.
(All the Social Butterfly’s views are her own)
Exercises modified from About.com Small Business: Canada – Blow Your Own Horn: Business Success Program: Business Success Lesson 9 by Susan Ward,