Do you really know what people think of you? Does it match with who you are? This post is about how you can influence the way people see you. Many people are well aware of their own presence but haven’t taken the most out of it. Personal branding is a tool to enhance that. This post is my share of how to brand yourself based of theories I read, models I used in my work and my own experience. I try to describe it without getting trapped in marketing terms. Here we go.
To brand yourself you need to know who you are first, what your identity is. In the figure below you see how identity is built. To make it easier for you, make a map of your identity. Draw it. Be true to yourself, don’t cheat. Have anyone ever noticed that you have changed? According to this figure it is possible while you don’t feel that way at all. For example you change because of new ambition or new friends. You change because your interests have broaden. Without you are really aware of it, things in your surrounding define who you are. They influence you. Sometimes you can do something about it (choosing friends carefully or training new skills, facing your weaknesses) but sometimes you can’t (ethnicity). When you are done with identifying who you are, get to the next step.
I try to show how it works by making the figure below. Building your personal brand is literally blending your identity with your (strived) image. Funnily in Bahasa Indonesia it is called Jaim an abbreviation of Jaga Image (protecting your image). In this context jaga image is similar to maintaining your personal brand. To learn what your existed image is, ask your spouses, partners, friends, families, colleagues to tell you how they see you. Remember, they need to give you honest answer and you have to stay cool about it. Even when their feedback is negative. What you’ll hear is your existed image. From that point, you know how others see you in a good and bad way. Then ask yourself how you want others to see you. Enlist what you want others to think about you. What is unique, original about you, your X-factor. Once again, for this you need to stay true to yourself. Be realistic with the strived image though. Don’t put things which are not you because they would be hard to maintain. Weaknesses and fears may be bad things. Show these less but don’t hide them. Including these make you look human to whom people can relate. When your strived image is all shiny and colourful, this would scare people off. All the whole package, the good and the bad plus the X-factor, combined together forms your brand!
Once you have defined your personal brand, build it. Adjust your online bio accordingly on your social media accounts, your CV and other information about you online. Tell the world what you want to enhance, your strived image. Show them who you are. Take good care of your brand. Monitor it and strengthen it faithfully. When a change occurs in your identity and you want to enhance it, adjust your brand immediately.
Do I need it?
Branding yourself is important especially when you go job hunting. It allows companies to know you better in a short time. For bloggers personal branding is necessary as it helps to gain new readers and setting a better positioning towards other bloggers. Once you have set your brand, it will help you in the writing process. You would know which stories to tell and how to present them.
There was time that personal branding was seen as narcissistic. Not so long ago, blogging was more or less the medium of social networking. Now, with countless social networks and overwhelming feeds, it is highly recommended to excel yourself above others. Saying this, it is important to define your brand and loyally use it on various social networks you’re on. This will show a clear red line when people Google your name. Of course personal branding is not exclusively for job seekers and bloggers only, it is also useful for everyone to learn how to present oneself because everyone has a brand. You are your own brand. The question is: would you like to exploit it.
I write this post this time of the year. Some people use this moment to evaluate what they have done and what they plan to do in the coming year. I hope this might help. Good luck with your personal branding!