Your personal brand is a relationship or experience somebody has with you; it’s what people say about you when you’re not around.
Personal brand is cultivated, and takes full-time management. It is the expectations others have. They know the level and quality of work you do, and thus that expectation becomes part of you.
We often communicate with others digitally, so if people do not have a ‘real’ relationship with you as a human being, they are going to have a relationship with your brand, and the impact of that is tremendous.
Your personal brand should represent who you want to be. When My Space first came out I frequently posted pictures from parties and softball games, and my friend would say, “You must not care about what you look like, because many of these pictures you put out there are madness.” It didn’t mean much at the time, but several years later I wanted to delete those photos.
It’s not about being inauthentic, but about presenting what I want people to know. If the primary place someone has a relationship with me is online, they need to know the whole me.
That means a little bit of Mommy, a little bit of work and a little bit of what I do in my spare time.
Another step in this direction is to request 30-second feedback from people you know well. She suggests going to different folks from various parts of your life and give them 30 seconds to say three words that describe you. Their perception is important, but also the intensity of that perception.
When I did this exercise many years ago with a gentleman she worked with, I thought I was, assertive, but the man said I was aggressive. I thought I was outgoing, but the man said I was outspoken. This was an important lesson on my personal brand.
Soozi Jones Walker and Bobbi Miracle have built a successful commercial real estate business in Las Vegas. Miracle said most people don’t even realize they’ve created personal brands. “Your personal brand is what your niche is; it is who you have become,” she said. “When someone thinks of commercial real estate, I want them to think of me or Soozi. It takes time. You have to consistently build your personal brand throughout everything you are doing. It takes writing it down and figuring out who you are, because if you don’t know who you are, you are never going to be able to portray it to anybody else.”
At all phases of one’s career, personal brand is an essential component.
For example, once you get out of college, maybe it’s not a great idea to post pictures of yourself doing keg stands, Miracle added. “People don’t need to see that. You might offend some people or you might attract the wrong type of people.” I always work hard on making sure what I am saying is right for my audience. Not all people are going to have a relationship with you. Certain people are going to react positively to you, others might not, Bobbi agreed. “Sometimes it might come down to what you are wearing.”
When Jones started in the real estate business, there were no women in the commercial market, so she did residential. The best way to build business 37 years ago was to take as many listings as possible and get your signs up so your name was everywhere, she recalled. I did everything from door-knockings to appearing at charity events. But you had to do so because you cared, not just to get business.
Jones also heeded an early mentor’s advice to present oneself professionally. “A big part of your personal brand is not just people knowing your name or your face, they need to know you. You need to actually, genuinely talk to somebody in person—I know that is a novel concept these days.”
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Social media is a balance when it comes to personal brand and brings both positive and negative aspects, Miracle commented. When she got pregnant, Miracle did not want the people at work to know. “Lately there is an evolution where people expect women to have balance – babies and work.”
Jones shattered glass ceilings when she entered the CRE (Commercial Real Estate) market. She was one of the first women in Nevada to earn a CCIM (Certified Commercial Investment Member), and she was only the third woman in Nevada to get an SIOR (Society of Industrial and Office Realtors). She had to keep her family separately compartmentalized, because they didn’t want to see her as a mom.
Sometimes to break barriers, you must be more flamboyant or more aggressive than you might normally be. My business partner is thinking about what her legacy will be when she retires, so she is thinking about what the next five years will look like. At all phases of one’s career, personal brand is an essential component.
Sometimes people notice someone’s personal brand when it is something they did not want to get noticed. Miracle explained the company was all but ready to hire an assistant after a stellar interview, however, a picture of her pouring liquor all over her body was discovered on her Facebook page. “We just couldn’t get past that picture,” Miracle said. It became the ex-candidate’s brand for them, and damaged her career.