Brand – New You

Guest post:

Newsflash!!! You are a brand. Will you be “…a generic or luxury brand?”

Web 2.0 challenges professionals to address our personal brands and define our social tendencies to increasingly broader audience. It seems the whole business world has gone social: Social CRM, Social Sales, Social CEOs, etc… If Mark Zuckerman gets his way, you’ll continue to struggle with the one face to show the world dilemma and if Google gets its way, you’ll have the option of a social network that mirrors your offline word. But the real power of a personal brand, is not which platform you use, it is the strength of having your character and actions in alignment with the image that you project. Brand management boils down to managing expectations.

In a 24/7 world, privacy doesn’t work. Who hasn’t been outed in the form of an awkward school photo, concealed political affiliation, or other equally embarrassing you weren’t supposed to know that about me moment? Things we used to be able to keep distinctly compartmentalized are now slowly creeping into our social conversations. Personal and professional personas are blending in the inbox, the computer, and across a growing number of social networking platforms. I believe it is because the world increasingly demands no boundaries on our time, geography, accessibility, and of course now our privacy. So why not turn the tables on privacy and own your brand? Embrace the awkward photos and admit that your hair do (or don’t) was a phase. Use your political affiliations to engage in meaningful discussions. Hey, at least you’re up on the world of politics (just be careful not to be too polarizing…unless of course that’s the brand you want to project). The best defensive is a good offense, right? So if you feel like the walls will come crashing down on you if you engage in Twitter Facebook or Linkedin start by answering the 8Ps of Online Social Networking. In doing so, you will begin to discover your authentic self. In the words of William Shakespeare “to thine own self be true.”

Do you know yourself? Do you know what few words others would use to describe you? Is there an expectation gap? Since I was a child, I’ve been an overcommitted Joiner. In 2008, I attended an LMA-LA networking event. During a session moderated by Jonathan Fitzgarrald I learned that my peers found me to be “Networked,” “Youthful,” and “Intense”. Though I could have drawn negative or positive conclusions from the insights, I was relieved to know that the these descriptors were not far from the personal brand I had been striving to create “Connected,” “Enthusiastic,” and “Smart”. A year later, I was asked to take the Clifton StrengthsFinder and my top five themes of talent ranked in the order revealed by my responses to the questions were: Input, Woo, LearnerIdeation, and Command.

Just today, while reading an article, I learned a phrase I use on marketing collateral “connecting the dots that lead to profitability” is more commonly referred to as searchlight intelligence. Over time, I have realized that it is less important that my brand be thought of as good or bad by others but rather consistently authentic. Finding and using one’s authentic social voice is a great way to differentiate your brand from others and will minimize the expectation gap.

Don’t be afraid to differentiate yourself from others, own your personal brand, and broadcast it further with social media. Sure our employers and clients are nervous over social network monitoring issues but if you build a trusted and authentic brand on & off line that strengthens the brand of the companies that write your checks, wouldn’t you be doing both yourself and your employer a huge favor? By harnessing your personal brand, not only will you leave a strong digital footprint but it’s the best investment you can make in yourself.

Cheers, to a Brand – New You!