Unlike many New Years resolutions, personal branding is not a goal in itself, but an ongoing commitment that can produce effective, long term results. Of course, goals are important…things like getting fit, eating healthier and being more assertive on the job…but you’re more likely to reach (and maintain) these goals if they are developed in the broader picture of your personal brand. Given sufficient time and effort, personal branding can continue to give back year after year.
Knowing who you were in 2015 is an important first step to get you closer to who you want to be in the New Year. How would you describe your personal brand? What values, strengths, passions and achievements stood out the most in 2015? As our outer brand can have a major impact on the way others perceive us (and can make or break our chance at sharing our personal brands effectively), also be sure to assess your outer brand. This includes your presence, personal style, lifestyle, communication style and image on social media in 2015. Check out this assessment I posted a while back to help you reflect on your personal brand this past year.
Once you’ve assessed the state of your personal brand in 2015, here are 7 ways to commit to building a solid personal brand in 2016.
1) Understand your brand attributes. Your personal brand is best seen through eyes of others. What three words might they use to describe you (across family, friends, co-workers, etc)? What three words would you use to describe your ideal self (how you would like to be seen)? Are they the same words others would use to describe you? Set (realistic) goals to achieve your ideal attributes and make them known to others.
2) Differentiate yourself. Identify what might differentiate your personal brand from others. Think about what unique traits can set you apart from others over the next year. What strengths or talents have others come to rely on, both personally and professionally? How can you effectively communicate them to others in the New Year?
3) Live in accordance your values. Your personal values are at the very core of your personal brand, kind of like a personal operating system. Do a values assessment for the New Year (see this post for help with this). Determine whether you are living congruently with your values, and how to resolve any discrepancies between your behaviours and your values.
4) Tap into your passion and purpose. Think about what makes you feel most passionate and when you feel your “personal best”. What opportunities will you have to shine in 2016 and tap into this passion? What activities feel the most meaningful and fulfilling to you? Can you invest in them more directly (e.g., volunteering for a charity, advocating for an organization)?
5) Chart your course. Develop realistic and achievable personal goals to give your brand a clearly identified direction. Do you have a “road map” of short, medium and long-term goals to get you there? What would you like more of in your life? What would you like less of?
6) Establish presence and personal impact. For your personal brand to make an impact, it needs to get noticed by others, make a positive impression and be memorable. If your “presence” isn’t as strong as it could be, set goals to improve different areas (e.g., posture, handshake, eye contact, body language, networking skills). Also engage in opportunities to build your presence, both online and off (e.g., attending social activities, benefits, networking events). Pay attention to your communication skills and take particular note of volume, speed, tone and pitch.
7) Develop your personal style. Everything communicates your brand identity to others, including appearance. Start by doing a wardrobe inventory to assess what it “says” about you. Does it represent the brand you would like to put forward? Is it also right for your age and profession? Add (or subtract) items to develop a brand-consistent personal style. Try adding something unique and memorable (e.g., handkerchief, briefcase, ties, style of glasses). Check out this post for more on this.