Sallie Krawcheck has written a great post over on LinkedIn, called Personal Branding 101. (If you don’t know Sallie, you should. Check out her Wikipedia page.)
I am a big fan of Sallie’s groundbreaking work, though I was a bit surprised by the discomfort she expresses with the concept of herself as a personal brand. After all, she’s Sallie Krawcheck! Her brand is renown as a woman who has succeeded (and failed) as a leader in the male-dominated financial services industry and she is using that success to open doors for women leaders in all industries through her work in Ellevate Network.
In my experience, women are often less comfortable with the concept of their own personal brand because it conjures images of shameless self-promotion. And as Sallie’s article alludes to, women have a greater tendency to want their work to stand on its own and not to have to promote it. Many professional women often undersell themselves and their achievements – a problem not shared by their male counterparts.
“Personal brand is what people say about you when you leave the room.” ~Jeff Bezos
Yet, there is one important aspect of personal branding that Ms. Krawcheck’s excellent post misses.
In the social age, your personal brand is largely defined by what your audience or customers tell each other about you, not what you say about yourself.
And this gets to the root of what a personal brand is and how to use it most effectively. Once you’ve defined your professional mission and personal brand, you need to focus on BEING that brand rather than just talking about it.
BE your brand.
This is a critically important concept in personal branding that is often overlooked by the skeptics. Personal branding done right is nothing more than living the values that guide your day-to-day business and personal life.
Perhaps this makes it easier to understand that personal branding is more than just superficial packaging and self-promotion. In fact, it’s really most effective if it’s none of these things.
Effective personal branding is understanding your professional mission, harnessing your core values and learning how to infuse that mission and those values into your interactions both offline and in online social networks.
For more information on defining and activating your personal brand, see How to Build a Personal Brand Strategy and Communication Plan.
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