We all have a brand, whether we actively manage it or not – and if we don’t actively manage it, others will decide what our brand is for us. If you’ve ever had that jarring moment happen to you where someone introduced you as something that felt totally different than what you wanted to be known for, and you wondered how in the world they got that impression of you, you know what I mean. The good news is we have plenty of control over how others perceive us; it just takes some proactive thought. To get you started, here are some tips to help you align what you want to be known for with how others perceive you.
Do a social media audit
What do you want to be known for? Is the answer to that question reflected on your social media profiles? We know others can’t read our mind, yet so often we experience a disconnect between what we want people to associate us with and what we put out into the world. There are so many creative opportunities to intentionally manage our brand on social media – everything from our demeanor in the profile photo, to the content and colors in our cover photo, to more obvious parts like skills and bio. For example, if you want to be known as a kind person with excellence in sales, you could show photos of you smiling warmly and shaking someone’s hand, and include keywords throughout your profile about not only sales, but also related terms (negotiations, deals, leads, etc.) so that people can more easily find you for what you want to be known for.
Notice what brand you have
What meetings and emails are you included on? More importantly, which ones are you NOT included on? This can tell you so much about how your brand is perceived by others. If you want to be known as the champion of employee recognition, but you are never included on discussions about this topic or asked your opinion on the matter, people probably don’t associate you with it. I had a coaching client recently who told me she was constantly asked to help with IT issues, and felt that people didn’t see her as a leader. Once she realized she had this brand of “The IT Girl,” she was able to empower those with technical difficulties to begin solving more of their own problems, which freed up some of her energy to dedicate to working more with leadership teams to showcase her abilities in that area.
Collaborate – especially when it’s not necessary
One of my favorite ways to showcase your preferred brand is through collaboration. I add “especially when it’s not necessary” because it gives you an extra level of freedom and control to get at precisely what brand you want in a way that is easier than when it’s done only on your direct responsibilities. This could mean leading an initiative at work on something you’re passionate about, asking for input from a colleague or loved one, inviting someone to grab coffee, or any number of ways. The point is to center it around a project or idea that showcases what you want to be known for so that people in your life will start associating you more with that.
When in doubt, just talk about what you want to be known for – a lot. Every conversation is an opportunity to weave in keywords and experiences that align with your brand so that you can be known for what you’re truly passionate about. Please leave your thoughts on personal brand in the comments below, and if you want to talk through some ideas, let’s chat!