Hello SOTGC community,
Let’s just get this out in the open: branding is a bad word.
It’s a bad word because it sounds scary and complicated to do, something you know you should be doing but don’t because, well, …. it’s scary and complicated, and maybe it would just be easier to go brew a cup of tea, or play Bejeweled or…
Look. I get it. I really do.
Branding seems like something marketing departments do, or high paid consultants. What would a woman like you know about branding?
And yet, if you know who you are, I’d like to inform you … YOU HAVE YOUR OWN BRAND!
Let me break it down for you. Branding is basically whatever makes you … YOU.
It is your own unique identity that’s as one-of-a-kind as your DNA or your fingerprint.
The best branding works because of two factors:
The two go together in that one leads to the other. Authenticity is a prized quality because it’s so damned hard to do. In a world of Facebook facades and carefully curated lifestyle highlight streams, being real is a rare thing. By real I mean being open about your struggles, the crappy things you’ve overcome, the things that make you vulnerable. And when you’re authentic, it resonates. People feel connected to you.
Yet, you are who you are not because of your successes, but because of how you’ve risen and grown after dealing with challenges. Think about the backlash that Gwyneth Paltrow gets every time she opens her mouth. The reason is she seems to have a perfect, pampered life. We can’t relate to perfect because perfection is impossible. But when we hear people open up about infertility struggles or cellulite or hitting rock bottom or overcoming addiction, we soften toward them. We feel connected to them because they’re sharing their struggles, and struggles are the main thing that connects us as human beings. Everyone goes through hard times.
So what does that have to do with personal branding? Well, the first step in cultivating a personal brand is reviewing the qualities that we have cultivated in ourselves as a result of the challenges we have faced. Many of us are passionate about particular things because they helped us transform bad situations into good ones.
For example, personal trainers who’ve overcome obesity or unhealthy lifestyles are more relatable than trainers who seem like they’ve been Adonises and Athenas their entire lives. Change is hard – we’d all prefer a wingman, colleague, or coach who knows what we are going through.
Let’s say you’re not an entrepreneur, you just want to stand out in your particular industry or company. Think about what makes you a valuable contributor. Did you find innovative ways to save the company money that also saved jobs? Are you a bloodhound for finding and developing new business? Are you a stand out when it comes to networking and representing your workplace? These are all ways you can frame yourself as someone who is pro-active, someone who seeks out challenges and creates solutions.
What works about these approaches is that they’re true. They’re not some boring slogan based on feedback from a focus group. They’re the things that make you who you are. They are the best part of you.
Now here’s the best part: Once you embrace your own personal brand, others will, too! We instinctively gravitate toward people who seem comfortable in their own skin. And we are never more comfortable than when we are being truly ourselves. See? This is exciting!
Forget trying to fit into some stupid job description. Focus on being more YOU. Put yourself out there as someone with your particular blend of passions, skills, and experience, and you’ll find that opportunities seek you out!
One last note: Don’t fall into the trap of believing your personal brand must be some projection of perfection. Be very careful that you retain the things that make you human in your bio or resume. No one expects you to be a superhero in heels. Nor they do want you to be. They just want to know they’re getting the real you, the best you, the you that has faced challenges and overcome them with grace, a little wiser and ready to use your experience to help others.
Now THAT’s a personal brand.
Okay, so here comes the fun part (and if it isn’t fun, you’re not doing it right!). I want you to take a look at your resume, your LinkedIn and Twitter profiles, your personal website and portfolio. Is there enough YOU in those things? If not, where can you add worth, personality, and experience? Who needs to hear from you? What posts should you be writing? What struggles, expertise, and advice can you share?
Do these things and soon you’ll have a masterpiece of personal branding that reflects the kick butt woman you are. And let us know how this post helped you via Twitter – just remember to tag @AlvearDiana and @SOTCG to keep the conversation going! As always, I welcome your questions at dianaalvear.com.