I’ve come across some pretty interesting viewpoints about Personal Branding – one of the understandably popular subjects on LinkedIn. I’d like to help you out a bit by discussing the 5 Most Misleading Myths about Personal Branding. Here you go.
For most of my career I have been guiding both companies and individuals in the best ways to communicate. Based on my vast experience I developed the “Authentic Communication” approach with the “Manifesto” as an effective working tool for all levels of communication. This tool also fits those who are interested in their Personal Branding. I’ll get to that at the end, but first: The Myths.
Myth 1: You can create a personal brand
Let me get this out of the way first. Many “experts”, “coaches”, “HR-gurus” or whatever they call themselves are happy to help you create your personal brand. You might be disappointed to learn that you already are a brand. There is nothing to create. All you need to know is how to identify your characteristics (good and bad) and use them to your advantage. You are not a company, a product or a service (see point 4). You are a real-life person with your fingerprint already fully embedded. Your authenticity is your strongest and most enduring asset.
Myth 2: Your online presence reflects your personal brand
There’s a lot of emphasis on how to present yourself online, in particular on social media. As for LinkedIn, you are most likely using it to advance your career or secure your future. Of course I’m not going to tell you how to spend your time, but have you noticed how much information you like or endorse on social media without even understanding the perspective? Let me ask you this: does your profile reflect you in real life? Have you become conformist or do you stand out as you are? The easiest way to determine how real (authentic) your profile is, is to compare your profile on different accounts like LinkedIn, Facebook or Twitter. If you want to brand yourself properly, you will have one identity with a margin for different goals on different platforms. Do you have one consistent online fingerprint?
Do you have one consistent online fingerprint?
Myth 3: You have to be out there
Being your personal brand means nothing more than being aware of who you really are and also being aware of the way you represent yourself. If you are a salesperson, it’s good that you have the extravert qualities needed to persuade customers. If you’re not an extravert (I guess most of you are not), then it is quite reasonable to expect that you will do other work and have a different social life. Your average Personal Branding guru will encourage you to go out and be more “out there” and extravert. Now, if you are not like that, there is absolutely no need to follow such advice. You will do what feels – and consequently ís – right for you. This will deliver the best results. People – in both private and work circumstances – will appreciate who you are, if you are who you are. You might lose out on a flashy career in the spotlights… So what?
Myth 4: You are a product
Honestly, I can’t even believe I wrote this sub-header. More and more, marketing approaches are used to “improve” your Personal Branding. You are a person in your own authentic way and that is your strongest trait. You’re not going to be a better person, because you already are. Start believing it. Believing yourself. Contrary to companies, products or services you have your own gut to rely on. Treating yourself as a product, or allowing “experts” to treat you as a product may seem very clever, but it won’t hold in the long run. What I suggest you to do is to stay as real (authentic) as possible. Find out about yourself, be aware of this and learn how to represent yourself.
Myth 5: It’s hard work
Now, this is a point where admittedly I’m in doubt. Being consistent is hard work. Sure. You’re only human so you’ll respond to different situations and challenges in different ways. Still, I argue that Personal Branding is easy, once you have figured out who you are and how to deal with it from your unique (and singular) perspective. You’ll have to take a hurdle to get there, and that may be the hard part. Please realise, in my opinion and based on my own experience, that once you have created the awareness of who you are, you’ll start acting more consistently and that simply takes less energy. You’ll be able to filter out more BS and use your time more effectively. Which will improve your real-life qualities, both socially and professionally.
People – in both private and work circumstances – will appreciate who you are, if you are who you are.
How I do it
I’m curious what you think about the points I made above. I’m sure you’ve all come across discussions about Personal Branding and wondered how that would work out for you. What I say is this: find out who you are, be aware of who you are and see how anything that comes your way fits your story.
Don’t believe so-called experts, believe yourself first.
I’ve been pretty consistent myself, using my own Manifesto for many years. I’ve printed it on the back of my business card and you’ll find it on my website. I developed it using the approach of “Authentic Communication” for businesses. It is a technique I also commercially use for people who get stuck in their Personal Branding. An authentic Personal Manifesto should reflect their qualities, identity, personality and expectations. I’m a guide for others in this area, no more and no less, using my experience in areas relevant to them.
Sometimes I’m asked: “Where did you find that Manifesto of yours?”. I try not to feel offended, but this question reflects how much some people just copy-paste their identity online. My answer I didn’t find it at all! My Manifesto is me!
A final piece of advice: don’t be a copy-paster!
Feel free to contact me if you want to know more…