No matter what career path you choose your best asset should always be YOU. While most people tend to focus on the things they want out of life and how to quickly climb the ladder to achieve those goals, many don’t take the time to evaluate their skill sets (weaknesses included) and how much of an impact they actually have on the bottom line.
Nobody is exempt. A personal brand is not just some jazzy little title bestowed on entrepreneurs and high-powered executives. If you are a human being, than you too can develop your very own personal brand.
For those of you who don’t know where to begin you can start with my 10 Rules for building a successful personal brand:
1. Be Consistent
While it is okay to grow your brand through several phases it’s not okay to change your legal name 12 times in one year. Think about who you are and who you wish to become. Make sure this is a true reflection of self and not a watered down carbon copy of someone else. Consistency will lead to recognition and ultimately this is what we’re all after.
2. Live and Breathe Your Craft
Don’t talk about it. BE about it. If you make the conscious decision to go ‘all in’ for something whether it be entrepreneurship, modeling, singing, acting, etc….actually go ‘all in’. In order for your brand to thrive, you need to practice what you preach and soak up new knowledge about your field, new technology and best practices. I know sometimes the road gets rough and your passion may get tested but realize that this is what you came to do. The only thing left is to start now and never look back.
3. Sweat Equity is the Best Equity
Get on that good ole’ American grind: late nights and early mornings. If you believe in what you’re selling/saying to the world then prove it. If you aren’t investing any time into your own brand than why should someone spend any money on it.
4. Be Professional
You would think this would be self-explanatory but it’s not. No matter what you do, where you go, or who you talk to, always keep in mind that impressions are everything. I live by the quote, “You can’t control how you are perceived but you have 100% control over how you are presented.” Believe that, because you never know who is watching.
5. Be Resilient
How many times have you heard the word NO in the past week? Month? Year? If you are a Gen Y entrepreneur probably a lot. DON’T GIVE UP. No matter what! Yes, it’s okay to take a minute and pick your chin up off the ground but dust yourself off and get right back at it. Maybe you need to go back to the lab and hone your skills or maybe every thing is in place but your timing was off.
Keep grinding and never let someone else determine your future. Do not let your personal brand be dictated by a third party.
6. Be Transparent
Nobody expects you to be superman or superwoman. Be real, be honest and most of all be human. Everybody makes mistakes. Every once in a while let someone in on your thought process so that they can feel like they’re a part of your world. Don’t try to cover up when you mess up…talking about it can actually give you more insight into what went wrong in the first place and how it could have been prevented. Brands depend on the transparency of upper management for credibility, so there’s no reason personal brands should be any different.
When people feel like they know and can trust who you are…they will invest in your brand every time.
7. Do Not Succumb to BBD (Bank Balance Depression)
Many people tend to equate success with $$$. Unfortunately, this can not only lead to serious health issues but, a defeated soul when you realize that in the beginning your bank account will be one more debit away from a flat line pulse. You have to love what you’re doing enough to know that the money will come.
8. Be Strategic, Daring and Open to Suggestions
Think about your brand and who you want to be. What do you want people to think about you? Strategically map out the things that you can do to achieve these goals. It’s imperative for EVERYONE to make a 5 year plan…I’ll settle for months to 1 year but plan something.
Planning is essential. When making your 5 year plan make categories (i.e. personal brand, financial, personal health, family, social situation, etc) trust me it helps.
To be daring means having a plan but also leaving some room for new possibilities. Take risks in business and in life and be open to suggestions from everyone. You never know what you can learn from a child and you never know what wisdom you can get from an older person.
“We have two ears and one mouth so that we can listen twice as much as we speak,” – Epictetus
9. Take Breaks
For the actual human inside of our robotic workaholic bodies, take a damn break. Take care of yourself and disconnect from the world for a few hours each week. Set boundaries for business talk. Don’t check emails after a certain time, have your calls forwarded to voicemail, etc.
While you build your personal brand you should also build in a little time for personal space.
10. Develop Small OCDesque Habits
Obsessive = repetitive thoughts
Compulsive = more of the physical “do overs” (ex: touching a door knob a certain amount of times)
You have to be obsessed with your personal brand. You should obsess about organization, presentation, details, etc. All of these categories are important in business and in branding. Examine your flaws and embrace them; turn them into assets. Be meticulous in your every day life and at the very least make sure there are no typos in your EMAILS!!!
Magic Johnson once said…”How you do something…is how you do everything.” So essentially, when you become known for doing things a certain way—give yourself a pat on the back because you have created an identifiable brand that is personally yours.
*A version of this post originally appeared on Under30CEO.com