Consider this question; how do you know which hairdresser to go to?
For many people, the relationship that they have with their hairdresser has been going on for years. They might even say things like 'my hairdresser understands how I like my hair' or that they find visiting the hairdresser to be an enjoyable experience.
And yet when you consider it, all hairdressers cut hair. They all do the same thing. Yes, individual levels of skill are going to mean that one hairdresser might be more suited to one type of customer over another however at the core of the relationship is the simple fact that all hairdressers cut hair.
What makes you decide has to come down to more than what the purpose of the hairdresser is. If all hairdressers cut hair, then there has to be something more personal to the relationship that has you decide which hairdresser is right for you, yes?
Even consider the scenario where someone might change their hairdresser. The scene many people often imagine is one of how do I tell my hairdresser that I'm going to see someone else? It almost feels like you're cheating on your hairdresser.
Weird, isn't it! However this is an example of personal branding, or why it is that someone would choose your services over someone else in your chosen field. It's the infusion of who you are (values, being genuine) with how you solve your customers/clients problems.
Personal brand is something that works across a few areas.
It is more than the brand-mark or a logo. The logo itself may give a visual representation of the brand however the role of the logo is to help evoke a feeling of the brand. When we dig below the surface, a brand should encompass everything from the values it operates from and what kind of experience it offers.
When I think of personal branding, it comes back to how you wish to present yourself to the world. It helps to provide that consistency and expectation, and has an impact on how you present to your clients, peers, competitors and hiring managers. What is the experience that you want people to have from their engagement with you?
It can often come back to personal values too. If you have a value around being supportive and nurturing with your clients, how do you do that? What are the actions and behaviours that you do that show that you're living this value? What do you do when you present to the world that highlights this skill?
Take another value such as creative growth. Having a emphasis on this value means that you might consider doing on going continued professional development. It might impact on what content you create and place out into the virtual world for others to discover. It might have an impact on the language you use and how you present yourself to your clients or peers at meet ups. Having an awareness and focus on that value alone could drive behaviour, create goals, and give further clarity around who you are “being” to the wider world.
I challenge you to take a quick moment now to sit back and consider what your core values are around your professional career. Don't over complicate this; there is no right or wrong and it might change as you consider these things however the starting point is to consider what values are important to you when you think of your work, or perhaps what your values are as a person and how they might impact on how you do your work.
Now consider what are the behaviours that you do around these values? How do these values get represented for you? How often do they happen, and how do you know when to do them?
When you communicate with the outside world, how do these values impact on that communication? Does it impact on the language being used, or on the content that you share?
Now consider your peers in the industry; who stands out to you? What are they doing that makes them appear to stand out from the crowd? Who do you admire in the industry and what are they doing that have made them worthy of your admiration?
Asking these questions are an important start. You may have a clear idea immediately as to the answers, or you may have a sense of what the answer could be. Now that you know the questions though, you might consider and reflect on these over the coming days and weeks to see if something else comes forward that you may not have noticed before.
Your personal brand IS your point of different. When you're clear about what it is and you're displaying that in your interaction and actions, it stands out.
It can also help to define your elevator pitch that you use to offer insight into what solutions your provide, as well as potentially impacting on who your own target audience is and the niche specialisation that you may choose to focus on.
This is, obviously, a very high level peek into this fascinating topic that can be expanded out into so many areas, and potentially something that we'll continue to do as part of our Virtual Meet Ups that we host every Wednesday at 1:00 PM (Melbourne time). If you're free and topics like this interest you, then sign up to be kept informed of the upcoming topics.