Yesterday, we presented an overview of self-branding. With an easy-to-follow format to guide you. Now, we cover all the steps in more detail: the process for projecting YOUR self-brand. With lots of tips and examples. Including flowcharts, infographics, and video clips.
In-Depth Look at the Process for Projecting YOUR Self-Brand
To guide this discussion, we again show our process for projecting your self-brand — in chart format. Then, we provide more observations, tips, and examples.
One — Articulate the self-brand you perceive for yourself.
As we begin the process for projecting your self-brand, let’s quote an old saying: If you don’t know where you’re going, any road will get you there [from Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland]. Why is this relevant for self-branding? If you do not know what your self-brand is, you may end up in the maze below. Now AND in the future.
Get out a piece of paper. Or go to your preferred writing device. As we said yesterday: Honestly, state to yourself the self-brand features that you believe you possess. Is your perception realistic? Does it represent the past? The present? The future? A combination of the three.
After doing that, articulate your perception of your self-brand. Try to do this in twenty-five words or less. That becomes your positioning statement. It should highlight your best attributes. Revise your statement until you believe it truly represents you.
From PersonalBrand.com: “I’m a publicity and marketing strategist who helps experts, authors, and coaches go from ‘hidden gem’ to admired industry leader…and even a household name.” [Selena Soo]
Two — Determine how others perceive your self-brand.
Consider the following:
- “Clarifying people’s perception of you helps to explain why different people react to you in different ways. To build self confidence, it is essential to know how you look and sound. In other words, how you come across. If you are right about how people perceive you, you are in a stronger position.” [Think Confidence]
- “Those who know us well and like us a lot tend to put a halo around us and see our personality as more like the idealized “normal” than it really is. Ironically, a person who knows you well but doesn’t especially like you may be a better judge of your character than your family and friends.” [David Ludden, Psychology Today]
- “Sometimes, you’ll find the most valuable data in the nuances of how people really perceive you. For example, you may see yourself as flexible and open-minded, yet those who know you may describe you as wishy-washy or indecisive. These nuances are crucial to uncover because you always need to deliver your brand in a way that translates into a positive experience for others.” [William Arruda, Forbes]
A valuable exercise from Kristi Hedges, Harvard Business Review:
- Select five people. Choose colleagues who see you repeatedly in relevant work situations: bosses, executives, direct reports, peers, or even former colleagues. Influential co-workers who have their ears to the ground make great sources.
- Ask for a face-to-face meeting. Be clear that you’ll keep whatever the person tells you confidential, which will encourage honesty, and that you’ll be collecting feedback from several people. Make the request in person if you can. If you make the request via E-mail, offer to answer any questions ahead of the meeting.
- Ask two questions. In the meeting, ask these two simple questions designed to tap into the collective wisdom: (1) What’s the general perception of me? (2) What could I do differently that would have the greatest impact on my success? Depending on the person, you’ll hear responses ranging from eye-opening and helpful to vague and confusing.
- Manage your reaction. Resist the temptation to explain yourself, defend your actions, or reveal disappointment. Your interviewees will be looking to see what effect their feedback has on you in real time. The quality of your feedback will only be as good as your ability to remain comfortable while receiving it. Ask for details or examples if you need them. And end with a sincere thank you. When you’ve finished the interviews, look for themes and repetitive points.
“’I don’t think you’re tough enough for this business.’ This feedback was the big aha moment for Carla Harris. Now the Vice Chairman and Managing Director at Morgan Stanley, Carla was given this critique by a senior managing director 5 to 6 years into her career. And, this made her realize that smarts and hard work isn’t enough – she needed to work to change how she was perceived.”
And you may learn a lot by taking this 10-item quiz. Just click the image. If you complete the quiz, you get a personalized summary.
Three — Do a current SWOT analysis.
At this stage of the process for projecting your self-brand, the key is to be as honest as possible. And we know that sometimes “the truth hurts.” That’s why a lot of people avoid doing a personal SWOT analysis. It may be stressful to be so introspective. And we may have trouble confronting our limitations.
To start, we should use a blank slate that we then fill in. The more compete we are, the better we can capitalize on our strengths and opportunities. As well as mitigate our weaknesses and the threats we face. Furthermore, it is critical that we include both the short-run and long-run.
As Marci Martin notes for Business News Daily: “SWOT can help people with their personal development to become the best versions of themselves, said Marlo Zarka, a certified professional coach. When conducting a personal SWOT analysis, think about what you want out of it. Do you want a new job or a new achievement in your current position? Are you looking for personal growth, or do you want to try something new?
See how many bullets YOU can place in each box.
Again, we turn to Martin:
- Begin by identifying your strengths. These are the traits or skills that set you apart from others. Ask yourself these questions: What are you good at naturally? What skills have you worked to develop? What are your talents, or natural-born gifts?
- The next step is weaknesses. This part examines the areas in which you need to improve and the things that will set you back in your career. These are some questions to consider: What are your negative work habits and traits? Does any part of your education or training need improvement? What would other people see as your weaknesses?
- For the opportunities section, look at the external factors you can take advantage of to pursue a promotion, find a new job, or determine a career direction. These are some questions to ask yourself: What is the state of the economy? Is your industry growing? Is there new technology in your industry?
- Finally, look at any threats to your career growth. This part accounts for the external factors that could hurt your chances to attain your goals. Consider these questions: Is your industry contracting or changing direction? Is there strong competition for the types of jobs for which you are best suited? What is the biggest external danger to your goals?
Here’s a brief video with tips.
From AnnaMarie Houlis, FairyGodBoss:
Four — Identify areas you need to improve upon.
To dig further into the process for projecting your self-brand, we need to learn how to improve ourselves in our areas of weakness. Our activity falls into two categories. One, which of our weaknesses do we want to improve upon in order to advance in our career, to better qualify for a new job, and/or to pursue a new career opportunity? At this point, we can identify both the weaknesses that we need to improve upon and those that we can leave alone. In the latter case, we decide not to enhance weaknesses that do not affect our self-brand. Suppose you want to switch to a career in artificial intelligence (AI). Then, you must work to upgrade your technical skills, including programming, higher mathematics, and other related areas. But, not necessarily to upgrade your communications skills or your knowledge of how to blog.
Two, how do we expand our skill set and enhance our existing skill set? To do this, we should divide weaknesses into personal shortcomings, such as impatience. Versus skill shortcomings, such lack of knowledge and limited experience in the field. Some weaknesses may be handled rather easily. Others may require additional education/training, a new credential (for instance, an MBA or a certificate in leadership from a leading organization), and so forth.
No matter what, we should never lose sight of the fact that we must continually maintain and enhance our strengths. They will give us career momentum. Fixing weaknesses is most important when we want to switch careers or we have bad habits that could diminish the overall perception of us, such as interrupting others too frequently. [Something that the author of this blog continues to work on.]
For each weakness that we choose to address, a game plan is necessary. So, lay out the weaknesses to improve. Then, enumerate what is needed to convert that weakness into a strength. Yet again, this is part of the process for projecting your self-brand.
- We often tell ourselves we are not capable of controlling our own destiny. Yet, instead of hiding away or believing we can’t change, we should always be willing to work on our weaknesses as easily as if they were a to-do list.
- It takes a lot of conditioning and hard work to change ourselves, to fix our weaknesses. But, I also believe we have all the resources inside of us to do so.
- Sometimes, the best way to address a weakness is to find someone who already is great at it and team up with them. Then, you will compensate for your weaknesses while also learning from example as well.
- In some instances, the best defense against a weakness is to overcompensate with excellent preparation. For instance — About to negotiate a contract with unfamiliar terms? Read up ahead of time. Need to pitch a customer or investor for the first time? Learn all you can about the person you’re pitching and then practice your pitch a few times on your colleagues or friends.
- Even though you may never be great at all tasks, some are important enough that it’s worth the extra effort to learn more, practice, and achieve minimal competence. A very smart entrepreneur I once knew headed up an Internet company even though he himself had no technology skills. Though he trusted his team, he wanted to learn enough about what they did to be able to tell when they could meet deadlines and when they really couldn’t. As well as what was truly possible and what wasn’t. As he put it, he learned “just enough to be scary.”
Now, view a video on breaking bad habits from Psychiatrist Judson Brewer.
Five — State your ideal future-oriented self-brand.
As we noted in our prior post: This stage in process for projecting your self-brand is aspirational. As we look to the future, how would we like to be perceived? This view of ourselves changes over time. As well as through different career stages. Complacency means that we would be satisfied with the same self-brand in the future. Is that you? Will you be happy stagnating?
To a large extent, this step enables you to determine your self-branding gap. Which represents the difference your current skill set (self-brand) and the skill set that you would like to have (ideal self-brand). And you should strive to reduce the gap by following the prior steps in the process for projecting your self-brand.
When you reduce your self-branding gap as much as you can, you are ready to move forward.
- Be the real you. There’s no better way to foster a lasting and meaningful connection with your audience than by being your true self. Don’t be afraid to talk about things other people won’t say. It might make you polarizing, but it will also make you powerful. There are people who won’t like you or your brand no matter what – embrace it.
- Be consistent. Your brand isn’t about your logo. It’s about the total experience you provide to your people. It’s the promise on which you build your business. If you’re flaky, why should they invest their time in you? They have a lot of other choices. Show up. Be sure to show up BIG. And show up without fail.
- Be of service. People are so hungry for inspiration, meaning, and truthfulness. Create content that strives to embody those qualities and it will take on a life of it’s own. If you create a brand built around the people you want to serve (and not yourself), your personal brand will always have power and reach.
View this video clip with Neil Patel, expert marketer and influencer.
“Kim Garst is a marketer who has recognized the importance of using a consistent persona online. Her particular strength is social selling. She founded and helmed Boom! Social, a social selling, training, and consulting firm. Before selling her interests in it. Today, Kim is front and center at her kimgarst.com Web site. She makes her business aim very clear here too. ‘I help entrepreneurs start and build a profitable business.’ There is no doubt that Kim is the center of her Web site. She heads the About section ‘Who is this Gal?’ and makes her accomplishments clear. Since Kim’s expertise is in social selling, it should be no surprise that she has a clearly-defined presence on her own social media accounts. She posts frequently, and her posting style is distinctive and consistent. Kim also enjoys speaking to an audience, and readily takes on public speaking requests.”
Six — Match your self-brand to career/job opportunities.
It is imperative that our updated self-brand aligns with the career/job opportunities that we wish to pursue. As such, we now understand that three possible scenarios are possible. One, we believe our self-brand is already aligned to the marketplace. Two, we believe need our self-brand only requires tweaking to be aligned to the marketplace. Three, we realize that our existing self-brand is poorly aligned to the marketplace.
At this point, we should have adjusted our skill set as per the preceding steps, so that we project the best possible self brand. In addition, we should keep this in mind: Don’t promise (project) more than you can deliver. For instance, if you have limited social media marketing skills, do not project yourself as a social media expert. You may be able to get a job requiring this skill. But you probably would not keep it.
Your personal brand and the company’s brand should intersect. As the following chart from Hubert Rampersad, Operational Excellence Society, indicates. The more overlap, the better.
The best advice: Do your homework. Research the marketplace, individual companies, and job categories (titles). Use free online government resources to see industry projections. Which industries will be growing, stable, or declining over the next decade? Which companies are best positioned for growth? Likewise, what types of jobs are expected to grow? We will discuss this further in our articles related to the job search.
Once you find a specific job opportunity that you would like to pursue, you should align your resume to reflect the job qualifications sought for that job. Here’s an exercise for YOU. Go to a job Web site and type in a position title. Then, look at the job description and qualifications. Next, as best as you can, align your resume to that job.
Sample for a product manager. From 280 Group:
Sample for a marketing coordinator. From Business Form Template:
Seven — Communicate your updated self-brand.
Do not engage in this step until you have completed the process for projecting your self-brand (the first six steps) first!! Select the ways you will communicate your updated self-brand. Such as:
- Printed media that may be delivered electronically — resume, cover letter
- Social media — Facebook, Twitter, Instagram. etc.
- Professional sites — LinkedIn, job sites
- In person — via phone, tele-interviews, face-to-face
- E-mails and text messages
- Business cards
- Anything else?
PLEASE be sure that your self-brand is synced across all of the channels you use. And that all channels are up-to-date. Potential employers are more likely than ever before to do a Google search of you. Remove any questionable material you may have posted. Material from third parties is virtually impossible to remove.
Watch this video from Karen Friedman, communications consultant.
Do you know what an elevator pitch is? Do you have one ready? Could it be improved? For some tips, view the video from CNBC.
Click the following image for a discussion from Rachel Miller, on LinkedIn.
Feedback Loop — Regularly reassess your self-brand.
Get feedback on your updated self-brand regularly. Do not assume that because you have done what can you to improve — and that you have communicated your self-brand well — that you now have it made. First, we know that YOUR perception of yourself has changed. But how do others perceive your “new” self-brand? Second, even with a well-received “new” self-brand, there may be others who are still better qualified for specific jobs than you. That is why matching your self-brand to specific career/job opportunities is so vital.
“It used to be that your boss’s perception of your work was what mattered most. Today, it’s your boss and beyond. In our globally dispersed but technologically connected organization, you have interactions with a wide variety of people. Their opinions matter. And the sum total of those perceptions make up your reputation. Among other things, your reputation consists partially of stories others tell about you. These stories sometimes take on a life of their own. Rumors and anecdotes that are told about you enhance or limit your career opportunities.”
“By comparing their view of your skills and potential with your own, you can test your self-image against reality and develop a perspective on how people view you and your work. This is a great way to get valuable information about your reputation. You can use this knowledge to enhance your skills, change performance habits, emphasize strengths, further develop your weaker areas and manage your brand.”
Also, “The further removed people are from firsthand experience of your performance, the more their assessment is based on your reputation.”
In this phase of the process for projecting your self-brand, fine-tune your self-brand as necessary. But try not to constantly reposition yourself. That would be confusing. And keep in mind that the feedback loop requires periodically revisiting step one in the process and acting on the other steps as needed.
“Any time you seriously want to do some personal branding work, you need to know the opinions of others. Most people would prefer not to know what others really think about them, but in order to build a real brand, you need to collect data from a broader base than just your own personal opinion about yourself. After all, sometimes others perceive you differently than you perceive yourself.”
“In assessing people, businesses often use what is called a 360º assessment. The idea is that you gather information from all facets of your workplace, such as your boss, coworkers, subordinates, and administrative staff. These 360º assessments are used to gather information about your performance and behavior at work. Including: Personality descriptors or personal attributes. Your skills and abilities. Your strengths and weaknesses. General comments.”
“An assessment that works well in the personal branding process is the 360Reach, designed by Reach Personal Branding. The 360Reach answers the question ‘Who are you?’ And gives you an opportunity to understand how you’re perceived by those around you. It helps you understand your reputation and take action that will help you reach your goals.”
Ruby Lee, PwC, offers an excellent Personal Brand Workbook. It will guide you through your self-branding. These two charts from the workbook apply here.