Your personal brand is really about other people
A little over a decade ago, the concept of building a personal brand was added to the to-do list of every professional with aspirations of nurturing a career. Who are you? What do you stand for? Why are you an expert at X?
It makes sense to apply the concepts of marketing to the most important “product” you’ll ever promote: yourself.
The rise of social media added a whole new show-and-tell aspect to the effort. Now anyone with a Wi-Fi connection can check out your carefully curated online life and decide for themselves if you’re living up to your brand promise.
A recent article in Forbes (Why Your Personal Brand Is Your New Resume) argues “[a] strong personal brand allows you to stand out in an oversaturated marketplace by exposing desired audiences to your vision, skillset, and personality in a way this is strategically aligned with your career goals.”
True. There’s also a bigger concept that needs to be considered.
Your personal brand is really about other people. You can tell the world you’re a project management expert who practices Bikram Yoga and loves Shirley Temple movies. But, until someone interacts with you personally, your brand promise is just that, a pledge of what you say you are.
It’s like when a new brand of luxurious shoes hits the market from a designer who is known for quality, fashionable footwear. They look great online and certainly have a high-end price tag. But until you’ve walked a mile in those shoes, you have no idea if they live up to the hype.
That’s why in the overall effort to build your individual brand, personal connections are just as important as your digital backstory.
When you’re building a business, looking for a new job, or hoping to forge new partnerships, it really is about who you know. And how well they know you.
From our vantage point, corporate alumni networks are an easy path to making meaningful connections. By participating in your former employers’ alumni outreach program, you’re automatically connected to a universe of other professionals with whom you already have something in common.
Take part in the alumni events. Volunteer for their community service projects. Reach out to others in the alumni network with questions. Make real connections with other people.
Then, when it’s time to work with them on a business deal or recommend you for a job, the promise of your personal brand rings true. They’ll know you are who you say you are.