In a world dominated by brands of every description, things are starting to get very personal out there.
Not only is it incumbent upon companies to be branded, but that now applies to individuals as well. Whether it’s looking for a job or even more importantly, moving up the ranks once one has that job, qualifications and background are taking a back seat to personal branding.
Why? Because organizations today want to know more about who a person is than what they do. Once, the main focus for employers, professional and social organizations was on capabilities alone. Now, that has shifted to a more holistic concept that aligns with our hyper-connected age known as “fit.”
What is “fit?” Conventional wisdom often mistakes “fit” for “fitting in,” which is merely adopting the most acceptable appearance, thought and lifestyle within a given group or environment. But “fitting in” often works in reverse, casting individuals as indiscriminate cogs in the machine. People who work in an organization are more than just cogs. They are the personalities which help shape the characteristics of the corporation, organically define its culture, and ultimately, become the embodiment of its brand.
This is a paradigm forward-leaning organizations are coming to understand and embrace. It enables them to assemble teams of disparate people, each serving a distinct purpose. This, in turn, empowers the organization-at-large to do truly innovative, meaningful things, predicated not on what’s needed now, but what’s coming next.
How is fit communicated? By developing a brand identity that goes beyond missions accomplished, goals achieved, or skills developed. Instead, that identity focuses on communicating intrinsically unique human characteristics: look and feel, personality, core values, passions, interests, emotional temperament and work style. Unlike a resume, which offers only a narrow window into an individual’s professional background, a personal brand encompasses every aspect of an individual’s presence and raison d’etre.
How does one build a personal brand? The first step is to conduct a short self-examination. A simple means of accomplishing this to construct and complete sentence statements such as:
I am a ___. The things I value most in life are ___. My greatest passion is ___.
These statements, and others of a similar nature, are the tools that provide the basic insight necessary to construct a meaningful personal profile. Consider, for instance, the following:
I am a software engineer.
The things I value most in life are the outdoors and family life.
My greatest passion is finding answers to complex questions.
With just these three responses, as well as others, it’s easy to discern that this is someone with an inquisitive, problem-solving nature and a sense of maturity that helps him/her maintain balance. Unfortunately, without going through this kind of exercise, it is virtually impossible to develop such a profile, even one as simple as this one.
Why does personal branding matter? It is estimated that most sales are made within the first 30 seconds of exposure to what is being sold. Until now, that sentiment applied mostly to products, services and first dates. Now, it applies to everyone in today’s workforce. Which is why a personal brand is fast becoming the most important means of communicating a wholly compelling, authentic human presence. Because once those 30 seconds are up, the deal is as good as done.