I was recently asked, “How do you help women take control of their personal brand during these times when face to face is very limited?” Because this question may be on the minds of women and men across the globe, I wanted to share my answer with you.
It begins with a shift in your mindset that occurs when you realize you already have control of your personal brand. “Taking,” implies that the control resides outside of you when in fact the control is already within you.
There is a lot of confusion among career-minded individuals about their personal brand. The confusion is due to the many individuals who promote personal branding focused solely on the where and how to communicate. Too much emphasis has been placed on promoting the brand which is in the middle of the process and not enough on the beginning where you uncover and develop your brand, or how to align it with what you want to achieve.
When promotion becomes the focus of branding, individuals are deprived of the critical fundamentals required to establish and evolve a strong personal brand along with the clarity for how best to communicate and align their brand with their goals and vision.
If you’ve already invested time and resources to undergo a well-structured personal brand development process, you probably feel confident that you are in control of all the facets affecting your brand. If you’re not confident or you don’t feel your brand is working for you, then your process was most likely incomplete. It’s important to understand that your personal brand is YOU and not a thing as in your social media, your resume, LinkedIn profile, your image, headshot, or how you show up on a Zoom call.
A more accurate way to have asked the original question would have been… How do you help women take control of how she communicates her brand?
The thing is, how you go about communicating your brand will be dependent on the structure of your brand’s foundation which is based on how thorough you work through the fundamentals of the process. A thorough personal branding process will include foundation building, a communication strategy, alignment, as well as an examination of the elements that contribute to your brand presence.
An objective of effective personal branding is to be intentional with your written, verbal, and nonverbal communication. When you are not intentional, you lack control of your brand, resulting in communication by chance. When this happens, you risk not being seen or heard, and the probability of being mis-understood increases.
When, what you communicate is misinterpreted, you jeopardize potential opportunities. These are the smaller incremental opportunities that act as the steppingstones leading you toward the advancements in your career, business, or life. Incremental opportunities are defined as engagement, conversations, invitations, introductions, recommendations, referrals, or being requested by name.
Not until you have established a solid foundation on which to build your brand, can you gain full control of your communication. Once the brand development fundamentals have been addressed, you’ll want to develop a strategy to define what you will communicate, decide where you will communicate, determine how you will communicate, and identify whose radar you need to be on.
The last thing you want to do is confuse others through your messaging. If you continually send mixed messages by means of your written, verbal, and nonverbal communication, you will most certainly confuse those with whom you need to connect with.What is it you want to be known for? Define your core message and weave that message as an underlying common thread throughout your written, verbal, and nonverbal communication. Doing so will reinforce who you are and your subject matter expertise in the minds of the people you want to connect with.
Where will you communicate?
In person face to face communication may be limited at this time; however, you have numerous on- and off-line options available to you. Online you have social platforms, webinars, podcasts, blogs, and websites.
Before the coronavirus, off-line meant you networked, attended events and conferences, and scheduled coffees, Today, most of these off-line communication methods have transitioned to online.
Consistency is key. Decide on one or two places to communicate and stick with it. Over time, you can assess if where you you’re making your presence known works best for you.
How will you communicate?
You communicate thoughts, ideas, feelings, and beliefs verbally using your voice, through your writing, and nonverbally by way of your behavior, actions, facial expression, appearance, and through what and whom you choose to surround yourself.
To be successful you need to master all methods of your communication. Determine how you will choose to communicate in writing. You can author a book or paper, write articles, a short post, leave reviews or comments. Consider contributing to a newsletter or blog. This could be your own, the company you work for, or the ones published for your industry.
To have your voice heard, volunteer to make a presentation, participate on a panel, keynote, or schedule one on one Zoom meetings.
When you communicate nonverbally you have an opportunity to reinforce what it is you want to be known for. That’s because your nonverbals provide visual cues that can affect another person’s perception of you.
To whom are you communicating?
Identify your ideal audience. When you zero in on who it is you want to speak to, what and how you communicate becomes clearer. The more specific you become the more direct you will be with your messaging allowing you to connect with those whose radar you want and need to show up on.
Personal branding is not a one and done exercise. It’s an ongoing professional and personal development process. As you continue to assess your brand’s underlying message, strive to create harmony between your written, verbal, and nonverbal communication.
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Here’s to the best brand you can be!