We get it. You aren’t a tube of toothpaste. But you still need a personal brand. In fact, you already have one whether you realize it or not. The question is, are you going to take charge of it? Today, Laurie talks with personal brand expert, Jennifer McClure, about what a personal brand is, why you need to develop yours, and how it can help you excel in your professional career.
Jennifer will be the first to tell you that she doesn’t like the term “personal brand,” but it’s the best one she’s got. You can also think of it as your reputation, and when you consider it as your professional reputation, that makes it a lot more important, doesn’t it? We’re talking about people wanting to work with or for you, getting clients, being promoted, and more. It’s your career advancement, plain and simple.
So how do you develop your personal brand? Think about Oprah Winfrey. She’s got one of the strongest personal brands in the world. Her message, live your best life, is known around the world. But her story hasn’t all been cake and roses; there are some negative experiences associated with her brand, and Jennifer explains how Oprah has dealt with it. She also shares how you can be as intentional as Oprah when you are defining your own personal brand.
One big mistake people make is that they try to copy someone else’s personal brand. As you can imagine, that comes off as terribly inauthentic. With that said, you CAN take inspiration from other people. See what they’re doing well, what parts of their message resonates with you. What can you adopt while still keeping your uniqueness at the forefront? Laurie and Jennifer discuss, and Jennifer also reveals who she considered her mentor and sought to emulate.
There are another few traps you’ll need to avoid in developing your personal brand: don’t overthink it or force it, and make sure your actions and words line up. A good way to tell is whether you’re getting the opportunities you want. Do people describe you the way you intended them to? How do your colleagues introduce you? Jennifer talks about what to do if your personal brand isn’t working for you.
Laurie shares the story of trying to be the buttoned-up, serious HR lady for the book she’s writing, and how she couldn’t even finish it until she did what came naturally, and that was to be herself. Jennifer chimes in with some very insightful thoughts on Laurie’s personal brand and what makes it so strong.
The tables are turned, and Laurie asks Jennifer what her own personal brand is. The response is humbling, and it’s exactly how YOU should think about how to live with your own brand. More importantly, how to take control of it. One of the key takeaways is that sometimes your brand needs to be audience-specific.
Sometimes we don’t like the reputations we have. It’s a challenge to change them; once another person has formed their idea of you, it’s a mental shortcut they’ll use repeatedly because it’s easier. So how do you go about changing your own personal brand if you don’t like it? Laurie digs in with a tough question, and Jennifer steps up to answer it without hesitation, and it’s an answer you need to hear if the attention you’re getting isn’t the attention you want.
Finally, we need to broach the topic of negative feedback that isn’t deserved. Jennifer shares the story of her first major keynote speech and the one comment afterward that has haunted her to this day. Laurie has a story to share, too, and they talk about what to do when people try to label you in ways that hurt.
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