What exactly is a personal brand? I’m glad you asked.
Simply put, your personal brand is how others perceive you. It’s an outside snapshot of what you value on the inside. A personal brand isn’t a mask you wear around others, and it’s not something that’s created overnight. It takes consistency and time to make an image stick at work and in the world. And to create a winning personal brand, you must understand your values and how people see you right now.
The first step to creating your personal brand is to take inventory of what is, and what isn’t, working for you. Ask yourself:
How do people experience me? How would people describe your personality and behavior on a normal day?
What traits do I need to keep and elevate? List out your strongest positive traits, ones that would make a big impact on your life with just a little more oomph. Maybe you love to teach, are a great communicator, or are the most reliable person you know.
What behaviors do I need to get rid of? Maybe you’re always skidding into the office five minutes late, or have a hard time accepting compliments. Making simple tweaks can really improve your personal brand.
Now, it’s time to dig a bit deeper. Think about how you’re built, and what matters most to you:
How has God wired me? Some people are built to create, others thrive doing tough physical work, and some find fulfillment as a coach or humanitarian. Jot down those activities that make you come alive.
What do I want to be known for? This question isn’t meant to create a lofty and impossible goal. It’s supposed to reveal the core of who you really are. If you love business, maybe you want to be known as an incredible team builder.
How do I want to be perceived, and what actions should I take to create that perception? If leadership matters most to you, you might want to be perceived as a team player. To be perceived as a team player, you need to take actions that support and serve your team.
How do I express myself in other ways? The way you dress, walk and talk are all ways you express your values. Do you smile? Do your clothes fit well and represent your industry? Do you speak with confidence and kindness? These are all cues helping—or hurting—your personal brand.
Invite your leader, peers and anyone else who knows you well to speak into your current personal brand. You’re going to have blind spots pointed out, but this is good. You’re also going to learn what people appreciate about you. The point here is to get an idea of how people experience you.
Once that’s done, it’s time to create a new vision for your winning personal brand. Ask yourself:
What do I do best?
What are my beliefs? What do I stand for?
What are the results I want to produce?
What does my personality bring out in my relationships and work?
These questions go one layer deeper to help you discover what really motivates you and what you want to express to the world.
All this work to create a personal brand won’t matter if you don’t share it with the world. Here’s how to communicate what you’ve learned about your values, beliefs, strengths and character with the people around you:
Be yourself – If you try to be a knock-off of someone else, you rob the world of your unique talents, mission and purpose.
Take action – Put your values into practice. Start taking steps that line up with who you want to be. Come to work a few minutes earlier, and don’t complain about it. Compliment your team on their drive and enthusiasm.
Show (and tell) your brand – Don’t be obnoxious, but you want people to know what you’re all about. Naturally introduce those facts about yourself, your values and your skills in conversations over time. Live them out. Walk your talk.
Keep maintaining and growing your brand – Do as much as you can to live and work in excellence. Continue learning through books, classes and podcasts. Invest in your relationships with peers and mentors, and take care of your health.
Developing your character and personal brand is a lifelong journey. And this is just the beginning!
Ken Coleman is the nationally syndicated radio host of The Ken Coleman Show and #1 national best-selling author. He has been featured in Forbes, appeared on Fox News, Fox Business Network, and the Rachel Ray Show. Since 2014, he has served at Ramsey Solutions, where he offers expert advice to help thousands of people every day discover what they were meant to do and how to land their dream job.