Since becoming a Career Coach, I find myself frequently talking to my clients as well as groups about the importance of developing and establishing a “personal brand.” The concept is certainly not new. Tom Peters first introduced the idea that each of us represents a personal brand in an article entitled “The Brand Called You” that was published in August 1997, in Fast Company.
We are certainly familiar with the idea of corporate branding. Whenever anyone talks about Google, Apple, Coca-Cola, and so on, we have a recollection, a remembrance or an impression of the company or its products. In some cases, we may have an emotional response of either pleasure or displeasure, depending upon our individual experiences with the company. We are perhaps less tuned in, however, to the significance—or the importance of—intentionally developing and establishing a personal brand. I warn my clients and audiences, however, that you ignore the power and importance of establishing a personal brand at your own peril.
The 3 biggest personal branding no-no’s that I think most people commit on a regular basis are these:
1. Lacking in personal integrity.
When you interact with the people with whom you come into contact on a daily basis, the way you conduct yourself establishes who you are and ultimately what your brand is. Do you frequently show up at work behaving one way, interact with friends in another and treat those from whom you receive services (cashiers, waiters and waitresses, doormen, and so on) in yet another way? If you find yourself going out of your way to please superiors while you treat those you perceive to be “beneath you” with dismissiveness or rudeness, that is a demonstration of a lack of personal integrity (not to mention a lack of good manners).
Like it or not, that behavior is very much a part of your personal brand. How you “show up” and conduct yourself in every encounter both in person and virtually demonstrates who you are, and you need to take charge of your brand starting this second if you haven’t already. If you want a “good” brand, and you want others to be recommending you as someone that is wonderful, then you need to decide right now to embrace the importance of conducting yourself with complete integrity in every interaction every single chance you get.
2. Being chronically late.
We live in busy and hectic times, I know. Many of us feel a particular urgency around the whole issue of time and never feel that we have enough of it. I have noticed that in recent years, it is rare that any public event that I have attended starts on time because people show up late and interrupt the proceedings. As a result, the event starts 5 to 10 minutes late.
Being late all of the time is a sign of disrespect for those around you. If you have allowed yourself to indulge in the habit of being late much or most of the time, it is a part of your personal brand. People will note that you are never on time. Accordingly, people will judge your performance by your chronic tardiness. Break this bad habit immediately! It is better to be there a few minutes early and demonstrate your dependability than to be the person everyone always has to wait for before they can get started.
3. Lacking focus.
Do you ever have to wonder about what Apple is up to? Are they likely to come out with a new vacuum cleaner or coffee maker? No. Apple does electronics—and they have a reputation for doing electronics better than just about anyone else. Think about it. When you consider buying a new computer, you consider Apple or “PC.” “PC,” which is short for “personal computer” however, includes a whole bunch of other brand names like Dell or Toshiba, and so on. There is only one Apple, even though they have several computers from which to choose. Why do you go to Wal-Mart? Because you can go there for the cheapest, least expensive stuff of just about any description. You would not go to Wal-Mart if you were looking to find an expensive, luxury item. You would go to Nordstrom or Neiman Marcus or a specialty store for that right?
The point is that just as companies and corporations have niche markets, you also need to decide on your niche and focus on what it is you want to do and for what do you want to be known. What is it that you want to accomplish? Where is it that you want to go? Who do you want to be and be known for as you proceed along your path?
I recently read an article in Careerealism.com by a colleague, Tracey Parsons who summed it up better than I could. She wrote that your personal brand is the “intersection of your reputation, your aspirations and who you are as a person and a professional.” I think that sums up perfectly what personal branding is all about, frankly. What is your reputation? How do people talk about you behind your back? Are you viewed as someone who is dependable, or are you the chronic latecomer? Do you treat people with respect regardless of who they are or you do reserve your respect and regard only for those you perceive to be in a position to promote you?
Your personal brand is how you show up on a day-to-day basis. Period. You may not be able to control how other people perceive you all of the time, but you have absolute control over how you present yourself. Show up looking like the professional you aspire to be. Make the decision to be dependable. Make it your mission to take control of your personal brand starting today, and in the meantime, avoid these three no-no’s so you don’t ruin it before you have begun to build it.
This post was originally published at an earlier date.
Kitty Boitnott, Ph.D., NBCT, RScP is a Career Makeover Coach who helps individuals find work that is perfect for them. She specializes in working with teachers who are burnt out and ready for a change, but she also works with mid-career professionals who find themselves ready to make a move that will feel more professionally fulfilling. Learn more about her here.
Disclosure: This post is sponsored by a CAREEREALISM-approved expert. You can learn more about expert posts here.
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