Friday night, I attended a panel discussion hosted by local organization, Platformit. This organization’s mission is to coordinate educational networking opportunities for young professionals and this particular event featured 4 Houston creatives. A bulk of the information was on branding as it relates to business, but I managed to squeeze in a question about balancing and/or overlapping one’s personal and professional selves. The beauty of branding and marketing is that its principles are still very relevant for personal use. Thus, I analyzed every bit of information they shared based on how it could be used for career development and personal (not just business or product) branding. Here are a few highlights of that discussion and how I view their application to individual success:
- Repetition is key. You know your brand, but your audience doesn’t. Find them, and get in their faces as much as possible. In this instance, your brand is a culmination of your education, skills, experience, and networks. If you’re not promoting your awesome, no one will know that its there. Once you’ve taken stock of what you have to offer, develop a concise way of sharing that info and get use to pitching yourself as much as possible.
- Your brand communicates your values and why you’re valuable. Your image should be a true reflection of interest and intention. You will be hired more for who you are than for what you know. Think about it: thousands of other people have your same degree, everyone is “passionate” about something, but the only thing that sets us apart from one another are our individual values. These values make us unique and it is that uniqueness that “sells” us.
- Your brand is a collection of experiences; it should evoke a feeling in others. This goes along with the previous point. When you begin to communicate your values with authentic intent, others will be able to feel what you’re saying instead of just hearing it. Sort of like that Maya Angelou quote, “People will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel”. You are more memorable (therefore more likely to stay connected to the right people) if your message packs emotion.
- Personal and professionals brands can and, in many cases, should overlap. To be perceived as an expert in your field, you will be expected to be that same person 24/7. Additionally, what you say and do online should always reflect your commitment to your work. Your weekend social media posts shouldn’t be drastically different from your Monday-Friday posts. You can’t be a great teacher every week day – empowering young minds – but spend your Friday and Saturday nights passed out drunk in the street. Well, I guess you can but it certainly would call your integrity into question. Technology makes personal information very assessable so with every professional opportunity, you’ll be looked up online to see how gracefully you shift between your personal and professional lives.
- Based on your end-goal and industry, decide on your objective. Are you looking for a job to retire from or an opportunity to be in the spotlight? Do you want to enjoy your work separate from your life? Or do you want to live your work? There’s no right or wrong answer here, only your honest truth. Whichever you decide on, your efforts should reflect that. For example, if your goal is to be in the limelight, your brand should be forceful and fearless. You won’t get to center-stage waiting around in the parking lot for an invitation inside.