The first time I heard of “Brand” was back in 1999 when I just started my MBA. At the time, “Synergy” was another buzz word thrown into conversations. I was intrigued by how conversations with my colleagues and the professors had all these catchy new words thrown in. Sometimes it seemed forced. However the word brand seemed to stick.
As I understood at the time, branding was how companies were creating an image, feeling, or relationship with their customers. Brand was about creating awareness and loyalty. This was ultimately a key competitive advantage to making more money.
At a certain point I realized that branding was more about a relationship. It was about Connection. That of course is one of my favourite words. So if corporations can connect with people, then obviously people can connect with people!
Somewhere in the midst of the year 2000, I thought about my Personal Brand. I was President of the MBA Association and kept thinking about what I was delivering to my fellow executive team, students, and faculty. I wanted to promise them that I would act in a certain consistent way. That promise was my first ever Personal Brand — I would be Personable, Honest, and Solutions driven.
How did understanding that Personal Brand help me? Well having a super positive personality gave me some great connections with whom I stay in contact today and leverage from time to time. Being solutions driven got my creative juices flowing and enhanced my persuasion skills as I worked to get around obstacles (opportunities they were called!).
I’ll be honest here….Honesty was a tough one to maintain. So often people choose not to be honest. Other times they don’t want to hear the honest truth. In my case, honesty got me in trouble with the odd student, co-worker or manager. Even my partner and family still have trouble with it. But I kept at it and now it’s something that everyone knows I will deliver. I promise to be authentically, openly, and sometimes brutally honest. This was an evolution of my brand.
I have evolved over the years, taking on new Personal Brand elements, getting rid of others (mostly bad ones), and refining the ones that exist. Our brand changes from our experience and knowledge. If we can embrace that fact, then we can adapt and refine our brand so that it is even more focused and more connected with the people we meet.
My most recent evolution has been my ability to be a ‘dating’ or ‘relationship’ consultant for many of my friends. I am a connector and a nurturer. Combine that with honesty and solutions driven and the “Dating Guru” was born. It is not a big part of my personal brand, but it seems to be growing and I am fine with it. Plus I love talking about relationships and helping people. It may not drive business, but it does drive my connection.
So as you think about your Personal Brand, think about what it used to be, how it has evolved, where you see it presently, and where you would like it to go.
p.s. My 1st public Personal Branding workshop is TODAY, at 6:30pm http://bit.ly/qEMphJ