Personal Brand

Personal-branding-message

How To Craft The Perfect Personal Branding Message

“I have been hearing and reading a lot about the importance of building my personal brand .. it all seems to be tied with using LinkedIn and blogging and networking at events. Which is why I started writing posts a few months ago, but it all sort of fizzled out.”

“I want to blog, but am not sure how to go about it AND what if I do it all wrong and everyone makes fun of me! Also, I really don’t have the time! ”

“I think personal branding is for celebrities or C suite managers who can hire professionals. My career is doing fine as it is, what can I really gain from it?”

These are the TOP THREE reasons we hear from professionals about why they are not trying to establish their personal brand.

These are all valid thoughts and reasons. But they can all be easily taken care of!  

You don’t need a lot of time to stay active on LinkedIn; you can get professional help to get your blogs up and running; you can hire a ghost-writer to pen down your insights in a palatable form, AND personal branding is not just a fancy trend – it will pay rich dividends in all aspects of your career.

It is all eminently doable, and there is professional guidance available to get you started. BUT there is one critical bit that YOU have to do yourself – decide on what your brand stands for!

You have to fix your message and before you do anything else. You have to decide how you want to present yourself. For this, deep introspection and critical feedback are needed. Here’s what you need to do to get this right. 

Find your strengths

The best place to start is to identify what you are good at.

For this look at your best projects, your most commended team role or job, ask yourself what is the one thing that you do better than anyone else in your team? Are you the go-to person for a certain job?

Along with strengths, you must also identify your weaknesses or problem areas. With all this information, create a top-5 list. Now its time to get some outside perspective on your list, we recommend you ask some close friends and colleagues about your top 5 strengths and include their feedback to distill your list.

Passions

Another great way to find out what makes you tick is to examine your passions. We all have some huge interests that ignite us – they might lie dormant under work and life pressures, but when unwrapped they give us immense pleasure.

Let your subconscious take over; think about what you genuinely enjoy doing. What would you do if money was not at stake? What type of people or activities do you like to engage with? What topics are you most knowledgeable about, and what are you always reading or searching for online?

Answering these questions will undoubtedly bring you clarity on what you enjoy. Dig a bit deeper to find out WHY you like doing these things. Look for the underlying common denominator that might pop up and jot down what comes up in your master list.

Values

We are driven to make choices according to our values and belief systems. They have a profound impact on our behaviour and actions. Your brand message must be aligned with your values. Hence, it is essential to define your value system clearly. 

Think of situations at work and at home that makes you angry or sad or satisfied. Identify what triggered these feelings. What are some things you would never do, no matter how much money or recognition you were offered? Thinking of what your NO-GO zones are would help you narrow down your deeply held values.

Add 5 to your list.

Purpose

Find out how your career connects to your life beyond the office. Why are you doing this job? What do you hope to achieve from it? Apart from work, what do you see as the larger purpose of your existence?

Identify your dreams and hopes, and you will be able to narrow down your life goals. Add some points by writing out sentences such as “I am…” “I have…” “I enjoy…” “I will…”

Bring it all together

Use the information you have gathered above to distill your message. Craft an elevator pitch that showcases your strengths, and talks about your values. Make sure that you are guided by your purpose and passion in pursuing the larger personal branding exercise. Your message should align with your interests and propel you towards achieving your purpose.

The key is authenticity.  Your personal brand is all about projecting who you are, not about manufacturing a false narrative of what might be most useful for a job search. Remember, your brand will outlive your current or even your next job.

Treat your personal brand message like your calling card. It’s about bringing who you are to what you do and how you do it. Communicating this clearly and consistently will build your reputation and leave an impression on all who encounter you across the virtual or physical world.

There is absolutely no doubt that everyone in the corporate world must start working on building their personal brand. If you are unsure about how to go about it, then don’t let that stop you. Join our personal branding training to create a clear roadmap and start today.

Boost-Your-Networking-Skills-To-Shape-Your-Personal-Brand

Boost Your Networking Skills To Shape Your Personal Brand

People often talk about wanting to improve their personal brand. For quick understanding – your personal brand is how other experience you when they interact with you. David McNally and Karl Speak, authors of ‘Be Your Own Brand’ explain it further, “Your brand is a perception or emotion, maintained by somebody other than you, that describes the total experience of having a relationship with you.” 

It is the unique combination of skills, experience, and personality that we want the world to see. It is the telling of our story. It reflects in our conduct, behaviour, spoken and unspoken words, and attitudes. And when it’s done well, it can enhance our profile in ways that go far beyond just our professional expertise. 

I am sure you must be have seen some successful examples of Personal Branding within your peer group. You might have even seriously considered starting with a branding exercise yourself; or you might already be putting a thoughtfully constructed branding strategy into action as I write this. Regardless of which stage of personal branding journey you are currently passing through, networking is a crucial aspect that deserves some deep thought and strategizing. 

Naturally, you must already be networking and meeting people as part of your operational activities, but is that useful for your personal brand? Most people tend to think that an organizational meet and greet will automatically feed into their personal brand! 

Unfortunately, it doesn’t always work like that. As you are representing your organization at networking events, you naturally end up talking more about your work or your company’s reputation. This does not equate to networking for your own personal brand. 

So how should you use networking to build your brand? 

The more connections we make—and the more value we can provide in our interactions—the more likely it is that our personal brand will be recognized. The best networking opportunities for our personal brand are cultivated over time and consist of a combination of integrity and quality that we can offer to people. Michael Goldberg puts it succinctly, “Networking is simply a proactive approach to meeting people to learn with the hope of helping them.” 

Even for an experienced hand-shaker like you, there is always a way to add to your business bonding skills. Here are some ways to up your game: 

Personal vs. Professional

You are the sum of many different things – your work is just one of them. You have to bring the elements of your personal branding message into your official interactions. In case you haven’t yet crafted a personal branding strategy and elevator pitch or a message, then now is the time to decide how you want to present yourself. A very simple example of this would be – If you want to present your down-to-earth, straight-talking credentials to the world, then you can eschew jargon-heavy, indirect talk and stand out as the person who says-it-like-it-is. 

Build in helpfulness

Be a giver, and you will be remembered! You don’t have to be a giver in the material sense; even being generous with your time and attention is sometimes enough. While interacting with peers at an event or even online, try to maintain an overall aspect of helpfulness. Advice, encouragement, a compliment, referrals, and sharing connections – all don’t require much effort, but when done consistently, these small acts of kindness will undoubtedly add to your personal brand.  

Doing your homework before networking

It’s important to know who’s going to be at an event, which we can often do by checking social media – conference hashtags on Twitter are a good place to start. Then make a shortlist of people you want to meet. Google them and view LinkedIn profiles, so that when you do meet someone new, you will know something about them.  

Quality over Quantity

People often think that networking means meeting as many people as possible. But that’s not the case. Making a few meaningful connections is far better than working an entire room. If you can have three or four deeper conversations, then both you and the people you meet will be more likely to remember the interaction. 

Social Media matters

You don’t have to keep your online and offline networking efforts siloed. Use them as an extension of each other. Follow up meetings and interactions by connecting with people on LinkedIn or engage with your LinkedIn community to organise physical meetups at events. 

Engaging with people online is important for people of all ages, but particularly if we want to make contacts with younger prospects or companies working in a digital space. Remember, though, nothing solidifies a business relationship like meeting face-to-face. 

By making networking a priority and regularly reaching out to people from different fields, you can broaden your network even outside your industry. You never know where your next opportunity is going to come from. 

Yes, it can sometimes be a challenge to network for your personal brand. Many of you may feel a bit uncomfortable with the concept of personal marketing; after all, being self-effacing or not bragging are ingrained in our collective psyche as admirable qualities – and personal marketing does require some amount of blowing your own trumpet which might put you off! 

I am here to tell you it doesn’t have to be like this! Sure, you can share your photos or videos of receiving awards and giving talks, but that is just one part of it. The rest is all about respect and trust; it is about being truly helpful and kind to people in your circle; it is about valuing your contacts and not taking your friends and business connections for granted.

Networking is a long-term investment. You don’t have to bombard your social media feed today! But do keep the tips I shared above in mind and practice them gently. With time, you will feel at ease, and nurturing your personal brand will slowly become second nature. 

Top-4-Key-Aspects-for-Building-A-Personal-Brand

Top 4 Key Aspects for Building A Personal Brand

Key Takeaways of a Workshop on Personal Branding for Women by Soaring Eagles

We recently conducted an immersive workshop with a select group of women executives on the topic of Personal Branding for Women. The workshop was led by our CEO, Sonali Sinha.

Women, across companies and industries, thrashing through intense personal and professional issues resulted in a very productive 4-hour session! We discussed some unique challenges women professionals face and how they can overcome some of these through cultivating and projecting a strong personal brand.

Here are some snippets of what transpired in the workshop 

After a fun icebreaker, Sonali introduced the concept of Personal Branding and the myths about it. Unlike what most people misunderstand it for in terms of external appearance and how one speaks and carries herself, Sonali clarified that real personal branding starts from inside. She highlighted the fact that as one moves up the corporate ladder, it becomes more and more important to be visible and be seen as a capable leader.

“Your brand is a perception or emotion, maintained by somebody other than you, that describes the total experience of having a relationship with you.” – David McNally and Karl Speak, authors of ‘Be Your Own Brand’

For all professionals – and most especially for women – it is critical to start projecting themselves in a specific, well thought out manner. As careers advance beyond middle management, the challenges of the work are compounded by the cutthroat competition to advance up the ladder. This is when your personal brand could be the differentiator that keeps you moving up.

4 Key Aspects For Building A Personal Brand

The workshop covered the 4 main aspects of building a personal brand – self-concept, communication style, visibility and networking.

#1. Self-Concept

Self-concept is our knowledge about ourselves, including our beliefs about our personality traits, physical characteristics, abilities, values, goals, and roles. As we grow up our self-concept becomes more abstract and complex.

Our self-concept very strongly affects the way that we process information relating to ourselves. The participants went through an assessment and came to understand their own self-concepts and how it is impacting their behaviour and choices. This whole exercise actually set the mood for the workshop and made the participants think deeply about themselves.

The discussion then turned to self-talk and core beliefs. Our core beliefs are the very essence of how we see ourselves, how we see others, the world and the future. These are rules that we take as a given. They colour our way of thinking in any given situation. If we believe that the world is not fair, we will look for signs that confirm this belief and we will question everyone’s agendas and actions. Similarly, if we believe that we are not smart (because we have been constantly told so), then we will not even try to make an effort to do better.

The discussion on the core beliefs gave immense insights to participants when they shared how being a perfectionist is taking a toll on them. Delegating work to others is hindered by their own ‘Must’ and ‘Should.’ One of the participants also shared her experience of when she was micromanaging a family picnic to the point that after the outing she was totally exhausted.

The participants also realised how their core beliefs were shaped during their childhood and how important it is as a parent to be careful about what messages we give our children all the time. Someone who is constantly held up to a higher standard of performance may actually develop a belief that they are not good enough in any situation. This can be debilitating, especially in the work environment.

The discussion then veered to the fact that a lot of women do not aspire for leadership roles as their belief is that a leader needs to authoritative and aggressive and that they do not want to be that kind of a person. Sonali highlighted that the traits of successful leaders in the current age are very different from this age-old image of a dominating and aggressive leader. She urged the women to take on leadership roles as they have the capability to thrive in such roles.

#2. Communication Style

Our communication style also plays a huge role in how people perceive us. This point was driven through roles plays. Given our socialisation, women tend to be more passive or passive-aggressive. Sonali underlined the need to be assertive, especially in the work environment and while dealing with demanding and aggressive colleagues.

Women tend to feel embarrassed to say NO in many situations because of their conditioning. This self-effacing behaviour is especially obvious when personal issues crop up. They frequently feel – and are told so by colleagues and bosses – that the right to prioritise a personal life is not something career women have. This makes them feel very guilty and pressurised.

Participants were asked to reflect and identify which areas in their lives they needed to be more assertive in. They then discussed their rights and correlated them with the situations in which they need to be more assertive. Participants share that this is one area where they really need to improve as not being assertive can take a big toll on their health and personal life.

#3. Visibility

Sonali highlighted that to get ahead in the workplace, you have to be seen. Being visible at work allows employees to demonstrate their skills, land prominent assignments, and build strategic relationships. 

Studies have shown that women’s contributions are systematically overlooked at work, especially if they are not visible and assertive. This limits their professional advancement and explains why the senior levels of organizations remain overwhelmingly male-dominated. Yet when women try to make themselves more visible, they tend to face backlash for violating expectations about how women should behave. This fear of backlash leads women to believe that if they try to be more visible they may even risk losing their hard-won career gains.

Many women shared how they struggle in their own organisation; they routinely deal with comments on their leaving on time, not being available late at night or for extra projects. They constantly tried to fit in and keep their heads down so as to fit in better and not create a stir. In fact, many even distanced themselves from other women who were perceived as aggressive!

Sonali shared the concept of Intentional Invisibility – how women tend to intentionally become invisible. This was something that almost all participants could relate to their behaviour. Women leaders also realised the important role they can play in support other women in the organisation by giving them the opportunity to speak up and share their ideas and in general be more supportive.

Sonali outlined several ways in which the women leaders can improve their visibility at work without feeling like there are being too aggressive or a show-off.

#4. Networking

Networking touched off a debate where women opened up about the challenges they face on the ground trying to create work relationships. Many felt that networking was either unnecessary or sometimes sleazy (this was an important issue in a male-dominated workplace). They also felt that the whole process of networking is inauthentic in some way. It tends to also make demands on their personal time and hence women tend to avoid networking.

Sonali introduced the core concept of networking and clarified the myths the participants had about networking. She showed them how they can do networking without feeling inauthentic and pushy. She also shared how anyone can become a great conversationalist and leverage that ability to get better at networking.

The participants understood that lack of networking was keeping them stuck in their current roles. They needed to build relationships outside their department and organisations to establish themselves as thought leaders and get more opportunities to work on exciting projects.

The whole workshop was intense and made the participants realise how their own thoughts and beliefs may be holding them back. Generational conditioning is a big part of this internal roadblock which promotes a workaholic, aggressive image of a leader that most women can’t seem to align with. Now, of course, the millennial workforce requires a softer touch and organisations are rapidly reassessing the role of a leader – AND women with their heightened emotional intelligence and social skills are perfectly placed to approach leadership roles, which makes this a great time to be women at work!

The participants also realised that the power is within them to make a name and space for themselves and also help other women in their journey. All of them went away greatly motivated to start implementing the learnings of the workshop, and we wish them all the very best!

If you would like to know more about building your personal brand or if your organisation would like to encourage women leaders to grow, then do get in touch.