Recently, a potential client came to me for a consultation on how others see him. He explained that he had been having problems securing funding for his business, hiring productive employees, and communicating his solutions to potential clients. When he went to networking events, his had a hard time communicating about his business and he struggled with hitting his revenue goals each month. He wanted to work on changing how he presented himself in preparation for a new client project that he felt took too much effort to obtain.
If you’ve ever felt a disconnect between the value you know you offer and the way others see that value, then these three tips on building your personal brand will help. It’s about asking for feedback, determining your values and purpose, and then identifying who you are by looking at some of your best accomplishments. There’s definintely a business approach to doing this, so let’s dig in.
Let’s face it, no one wants to hear “honest” feedback. The only thing we really want to hear is how great we are. In our minds, we always get it right; we never make mistakes; if we do make a rare mistake, then we were big enough to learn from it and certainly never repeat it. Now that we’ve got that out of the way, let’s get real! You are not qualified to assess yourself. You have a bias that no one else possesses, which is why making the effort to hear constructive feedback is valuable. To reduce the potential of misreading the differences between feedback and criticism, we definitely want to ask the questions in a positive manner to give us the answers we’ve been preparing ourselves to hear.
Start by asking up to five people you know professionally to provide you feedback on recent projects or work. It helps to find five people you like. You want to keep it positive so start by asking for three words that best describe you and three words that absolutely do not describe you. Next ask about three talents you do exceptionally well. Finally, ask what is most unique about you and what stands out about you. After you’ve collected this information, ask yourself how this feedback matches up to a strong brand that you want to build. How far apart are you from being a unique, consistent, valuable and dependable person? If there’s a wide gap between the feedback you received and the image you want to portray, then you have some work to do. For that, make sure you know your purpose and values.
What do you stand for? Many times I work with clients who have a sense for what they value but when asked, they struggle to articulate it. They then find that they really haven’t been operating with a strong foundation of what they hold important. Your purpose and values act as your compass. It’s what you will and will not negotiate on when dealing with difficult people, challenging situations, and questionable motives. With clearly defined values you know what line you will not cross and what behavior you will not accept. Your purpose, on the other hand, is about how you plan to navigate your career and accomplishments using those values as a guide.
For this exercise, make a list of the top five core values you consider non-negotiable. Then list the behaviors and talents that express these values. For example, someone who values a life dedicated to making a difference in the world through service to others would find that working for or creating a non-profit organization fulfilling. If that same person has talents for empathy, teaching and problem-solving, he or she will find more fulfilling work by maximizing and relying on these talents to make a difference. How do you express those talents? What would an ideal world look like, one in which you follow your values and purpose on a daily basis?
These are the stories you collect and share. These are the anecdotes of your successes, results and accomplishments. You want to talk about results you have achieved that will show your value. Take a step back, look at the feedback you collected, decide how close you are to your values and purpose, and then fill in the blanks with your stories that support your goals and ambitions. Talk about your unique edge, the benefits people get from you, and the ways you solve specific problems. For good measure, make sure those solutions reflect your natural strengths.
The goal here is to be memorable. What are some positive attributes that you already have and can build on to be memorable to others? What do you want people to say about you after they meet or work with you? How do you want to come across to others so they remember you in a favorable way? When you’re able to answer these questions with the strengths, talents and values that come naturally to you, you’ve found your personal brand and can live it everyday without struggle.
As you can see, building your personal brand takes time and effort. It’s an effective exercise to help you find your purpose and it requires a certain amount of objectivity and openness to hearing what you might need to change in order to show up as a more evolved version of yourself. The most successful leaders know this and practice it regularly.
Have you heard? I have some available coaching slots this summer and would love to work with you. Summer coaching sessions are available at a reduced price so if you’re interested in working with me, check out my strategy sessions and be sure to contact me.