You, Inc.

“Who are you?”

It’s not just a question asked in the movies.  Being able to answer who you are in a clear, concise, and articulate manner is a critical skill in today’s world.  More than ever this means building a personal brand that defines to the world your persona, skills, talents, and overall self.  Branding isn’t just for businesses; you need to be your own best brand, and you need to be improving it every day.

What are ways you can improve your personal brand?

  • Grow and cultivate your skills.
    • Word spreads when you become known as the person who can solve ‘x’, marketing you to a far wider audience than you realize.  Make personal and professional development a priority in your life.
  • Network, Volunteer, and Engage.
    • As stated in this Forbes article, “People promote the people they know, trust, and who they see stretching beyond their immediate duties. Interacting with other teams and their leadership gives you a household name, and creates opportunities for you to become a more well-rounded contributor.”
  • Make excellent first impressions.
    • Research suggests that it can take time – years even – to undo a single negative first impression.  Furthermore, “first” means literally that: how others perceive you is often determined within seconds of seeing you, which could be well before they ever even hear one word from your lips.  Make sure that your appearance, demeanor, expressions, and language all continually reflect the persona you want visible to the world.
    • Work on your “elevator pitch”.  Sometimes you only have mere seconds to explain who you are in a single sentence.  Make the seconds matter.
  • Never be fake, and never lie.
    • With few exceptions, others are almost always capable of seeing through any false personas or insincere statements you make about yourself.  “Fake it until you make it” is bad advice.  Don Draper ™ may have been able to pull it off, but the script was written in Don’s favor.  This doesn’t mean to not take chances or stretch yourself, but do always be honest about your skills and attributes, and yes, even your shortcomings.  Honesty and sincerity are key ingredients to building a reputation that others trust; don’t allow yourself to become known as a fraud.
  • Clean up your online presence.
    • Get rid of negative or unwarranted social media posts (see this previous PEAK Article for suggestions).  Also, standardize your social media accounts with the same pictures and defining attributes so that you are easily recognized across platforms.
    • Use imagery – just as businesses have logos and symbolic title designs that are instantly recognizable, consider possibly doing the same for yourself if you find something that fits.
  • Go deeper.
    • While the above bullet points focus heavily on the professional world, keep in mind that understanding your own personal values, goals, drives, and beliefs all impact the ultimate question of who you are.  If the brand that you are trying to create doesn’t match up to the inner workings of what makes you who you are, then perhaps it is time to reconsider what type of brand you truly want to create for yourself.

In closing, keep in mind that if you don’t define your personal brand, others will do it for you, and you might not like the results.  Take ownership of “You, Inc” and refine it daily.

Jeremiah Clark, M.A., is the co-owner of Appalachian Digital, a website development agency.  He is also a Lead Systems Analyst with the Cleveland Clinic Healthcare System.  You can contact Jeremiah at JClark390@gmail.com or connect with him on LinkedIn at Jeremiah Clark.