Personal branding is one of those phrases that gets thrown about a lot, and everyone has a vague notion of its importance.
But the problem is that it has taken on the status of a “nice” thing to do – something you “should” be on top of because, you know, well….BRANDING.
And because personal branding can be seen as a kind of intangible, it can often get the intangible treatment.
In other words, it consistently ranks at the bottom rung of your To-Do list, which means even when it does get done – it is normally more of a rushed job than a well-thought-out and planned strategy to achieve actual positive outcomes.
Making the value connection that merits you spending time on your personal brand and reputation is something that is of critical importance, particularly as a leader.
Many leaders spend years working to get to a position of serious influence, but then don’t take optimum advantage of the platform their brand has earned them – whether that be to leverage off their network in a meaningful way or having a digital leadership footprint which reflects and communicates the full extent of their knowledge, ability and expertise.
Taking optimum advantage of their personal brand is the key phrase here.
Most leaders don’t necessarily do this badly – in fact, some naturally might do it quite well.
But the challenge for even those who do it ‘well’ is the bracket they find themselves in when it comes to having a truly effective personal brand.
You don’t develop an exceptional personal brand to target your family – again, (we’re hoping) they love and appreciate all that you do.
Because you don’t develop and implement a personal branding strategy to target your team. They know you, and (hopefully) appreciate the value you bring to the table.
The reason for developing your personal brand is that you are looking to influence the external stakeholders who don’t know you so intimately – but could hold the keys to potential future success – whether that be partnerships, buy/ sell opportunities, recommending key talent, or giving you the opportunity to join prestigious boards.
These external stakeholders – in considering any of the above plays – will be researching and talking to other leaders who they feel will bring them long term value.
And it is these other leaders – no one else – who you are competing with when it comes to your personal brand.
In this field of outliers, having a “good” personal brand is expected.
Excellence is expected. You are competing with other successful leaders who don’t generally do anything in a half-assed way. They have reached the level of exceptional for nothing.
But because the phrase “personal branding” has this somewhat artsy, creative whiff to it – there are huge opportunities for those leaders who push themselves to get ahead of the pack on this front.
Branding is one of the most controllable areas to achieve differentiation in – because while some do it well, most don’t have a coherent, joined-up approach that isolates all the 1% opportunities that are available for them to improve on – from both an online and offline, verbal and non-verbal perspective.
So for leaders who are serious about maximizing their brand value in order to create the most interesting business and life opportunities for themselves – they can’t be satisfied with having a good, or excellent approach to their personal brand – the focus has to be on being exceptional.
You don’t spend time thinking through what differentiates you from other leaders, develop an outcome led networking strategy, or optimize your LinkedIn profile and have a clearly defined content strategy because it’s the “right” thing to do.
You do it because you are looking to see how – and where – you can start strategically getting an edge over the other leaders you are competing with for the attention of those who you need to influence most.
From the moment you make a connection on LinkedIn to your email signature, to how you interact with an external influencer at a conference, to how you set up a coffee with a potential client, to how your first page on Google looks – whether you’ve put any thought into it or not, your brand will speak to them – and that first impression will be made.
Developing a personal branding strategy is not rocket science.
It is simply a matter of taking a structured approach, having accountability and being consistent.
If you would like access to case studies we have developed from working with global leaders who have harnessed the full potential of their personal brand, click below.