Monthly Archives: January 2009

Personal Branding – Dont Be The Invisible Man

Everybody has heard of the Invisible Man by H.G. Wells. The Invisible Man in the story is a scientist who theorizes that if a person’s refractive index is changed to exactly that of air and his body does not absorb or reflect light, then he will be invisible. He successfully carries out this procedure on himself, but cannot become visible again, becoming mentally unstable as a result.

Without personal branding most of us are exactly like the Invisible Man – but without going through the “procedure”. Personal Branding is a procedure in which we make ourselves visible to the marketplace. We want to become the opposite of the Invisible Man. Personal Branding helps us find shelf space in the market by actively presenting ourselves consistently, repeatedly, and authentically.

I wasnt going to describe the whole “procedure” of becoming visible (and regaining your mental stability). But just off the top of my head you can start with these things:

  • It sounds simple – but just show up to events. Ideally show up early. As Woody Allen said “90% of Life is just showing up”.
  • Have and express a opinion. Nothing makes you noticed more than saying something pertinent.
  • At work – volunteer to run meetings, to set things up, or to organize events. Your name will be splashed everywhere.
  • Blog about something that you are passionate about. Your simple reflections are valuable to others. Share some of your “hard earned” insights.
  • Set up a personal web site at “yourname”.com. This is the quickest way to show up in a google search on your name.
  • Develop and nurture personal profiles on LinkedIn and on Facebook. Employers are looking online at your profile before they look at your resume or CV.
  • Be friendly and introduce yourself to others. Make a point of using other peoples names and saying hello. Find out about other people and offer them something you have learned that would interest them – this is a great way to start a conversation – and have them remember you.
  • Take any opportunity to speak to groups. Develop some insights in small portions on a blog – then share a set of these ideas to a group.
  • Build and nuture your rolodex. Remember
    “Your Network = Your Networth”.
  • Contribute to conversations on the web. Join some groups on LinkedIn and participate.
  • Try “micro-blogging“. You can Twitter or send “Status Updates” on LinkedIn and Facebook. This gets your name in front of everyone on your network – a great invisibility killer. If you Twitter – add 100 things of value before you tell me what you are having for dinner. And for Status Updates – remind people of your expertise and that you are constantly learning.

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Personal Branding is a Lens

Personal Branding is a way of looking at things. It is a lens through which we can interpret and decide if actions and behaviors are good or not. Most of the things about personal branding we already know about – but we dont always know what to apply and when. A personal branding lens groups and guides our thoughts and actions. It’s actually very exciting because I can now prioritize what I do using this “branding” lens.

I was thinking about this today when I set up my first Squidoo page. Squidoo is a site set up by that marketing genius, author and agent of change Seth Godin. It allows you to set up any number pages which they call a “Lens”. These lenses are just a particular persons view of things – their perspective. So I think Personal Branding concepts are a lens which gets placed on our lives and our careers. And I know that when we have a “focus” things are easier.

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Personal Branding is Outcome Thinking

Personal Branding – especially for your career has to do with setting and achieving goals. In essence – getting things done. We are not used to setting our own goals – more often we are buffeted about by forces around us. But branding ourselves in our career is about setting some personal goals and actually accomplishing them. In David Allen’s book Getting Things Done he uses a term called “Outcome Thinking”. He says “Thinking in a concentrated manner to define desired outcomes is something few people feel they have to do. But in truth, outcome thinking is one of the most effective means available for making wishes a reality“. Its probably another topic – but a person who sets and achieves their own goals is a person that people respect – they make an impression – which is one of the main goals of branding. And David reminds us that when we think of the desired outcome first before acting – we can more easily accomplish what we set out to do.

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Personal Branding is Made To Stick

Like any branding – its about marketing and the ability to be memorable. Its unfortunate that most of us are terrible at making impressions. The good news is that there is a simple recipe which you can use to improve. I simply cant recommend the book Made To Stick by Chip and Dan Heath enough. You gotta read the whole book to get the whole picture – or at least start reading their columns in Fast Company. These two brothers provide some simple guidelines that can be remembered by the acronym SUCCES(S).

Simple – Keep your message short, tight and to the point
Unexpected – Say something unusual but poignant to keep attention
Concrete – Give me some vivid details to make it real
Credible – Give me some facts and statistics
Emotional – Tell me whats in it for me
Stories – Stories help people understand and move them to action

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Personal Branding is Bragging

Most people dont like to brag – but its a necessity for personal branding. Perhaps “Bragging” is not the best word – maybe “Boasting” would be better – I dont know. For the most part I have found that “bragging” is easy – we just dont like to call it that. We would rather “toot our own horn” – how quaint. We need strong powerful credible words to describe our accomplishments. As Tom Peters suggests in his classic book “The Brand You 50” – we must purposefully seek out “braggable” projects. The point is not about the negative connotations of the word “bragging” – but about doing things that provide value and that are things that you are proud of.

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Personal Branding is Repetition

Should I say it again? Personal Branding is the effective use of repetition. A curious thing about our brains is that after hearing something over and over – we begin to believe it. So when we set out to get “mind share” one technique is to repeat the message over and over. Let me amend my last statement and say that it is a necessary technique. Hey and guess what happens when you repeat something boring over and over? Your brand (if you call it that at this point) is boring. What you say is as important as the repetition. If you tell everyone you are an expert at something over and over and over – in person, on the phone, on your business card, in your email signature – then after a while people will peg you as an expert.

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Personal Branding Is Like Buddhism

One of the reason so much branding fails is that people arent aware enough of their circumstances – personally and in the marketplace. While I dont profess to be a Buddhist, I have benefited from some meditation and slowing down of my crazed monkey brain – thereby starting to notice a bit more nuance in my life. Personal branding is about personal awareness. We could learn a lot from the Buddha.

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