By Maddyn Monroe, VYP Member
How are you known in your community, both personally and professionally? If you haven’t asked, you might want to take a moment of introspection and reflect on it. It is, after all, your personal brand – more than just your name and title. It’s what your field of expertise is, and if people regard you as the go-to for that expertise. So how can you polish that personal brand and build your authority?
Shakespeare was onto something when he had Polonius opine, “To thine own self be true.” Part of building your personal brand is an honest appraisal of your strengths and weaknesses, and staying authentic to your past, experiences, personality, and beliefs. Also, it’s energy-sapping to build a brand around your fake self. Real people connect with real people. So own whatever you feel your shortcomings are, embrace your strengths, and “you be you.”
As part of this appraisal, note a list of “Things At Which I Am Good.” (One of mine, for example, is not ending a sentence with a preposition.) Building off that list, find out what you can bank as a subject matter expert. Offer to write blog posts and articles. Answer questions online that fall in your line of expertise. If you can’t find an outlet, then create one just to sharpen the sword and get into a rhythm of practice.
Take the plunge and offer to speak at an upcoming meeting or event on your area of expertise. If you are nervous about speaking in front of a crowd, join VYP for Toastmasters – it is a great way to get comfortable with a microphone and develop those presentation skills. Perhaps most importantly, speak with confidence. You are the subject matter expert; people are there to hear what you have to say about the topic. Own it and speak from a place of power.
Building your personal brand online is essential, as well. Be mindful of your behaviors on social media. What tone do you impart in your posts? What information and opinions do you share? Are you using a professional photo that conveys what you want? Beyond your own profiles, how do you interact online? Are you providing insights and commentary, and sharing relevant content that may inspire others to do the same with your original pieces? Lastly, are you searching for yourself (nope, not in a metaphysical way). It never hurts to Google yourself every so often to monitor your personal brand and manage your online reputation.
Lastly, I would ask that in the development and cultivation of your personal brand, you never stop wanting to learn more. As Einstein once said, “Life is like riding a bicycle. To keep your balance, you must keep moving.” Never stop the wheels of curiosity and education; it gives you more of an edge on your personal brand and in your professional life than you’ll realize as you toil over an online class, seek out a new skill, or possibly even start over, all over again.
How do you cultivate your personal brand? Let us know @vegasyp.