Everyone in business has a personal brand. Not everyone is aware of it or tends to it like they should, but it is there nonetheless. The key to success is to manage that brand, to define it, and to make sure that people are aware of it. But when you are both the marketer and the actual product it feels awkward to build and promote your personal brand without coming off as a narcissist. Here are a few ways to feel confident that your brand building isn't coming off as a festival of 'me'.
Know Your Brand
In other words, know what it is that makes you the best at what you do. Are you a natural closer? Maybe you notice details that others blow past. You are good at re-framing problems as opportunities. Whatever it is, it is your calling card. You can discover what your brand is by thinking about comments that have been made about you over the years. Think about things that colleagues, bosses, hiring managers, clients, and others have said about your work. If you look deeply enough, you will probably find a common element there that points to something you do exceptionally well.
When you know your brand, your confidence will flow from your natural expertise, and you won't come off as cocky. Instead, people will look to you as an expert in your field.
You Have Got to Give
Even though your personal brand is all about you, the bottom line is that you need to give something to get something. Other people are not merely your audience, they are potentially people who can help you. Research has shown that people are more likely to help those who are willing to help them.
Be on the lookout for articles or information that you know others will find useful and forward those pieces to them with a little note. If someone is looking to hire and you know the perfect candidate, introduce them. If there is a book you find particularly inspirational, buy a few copies and give them to those who might be interested. All of these actions are helpful, create interaction, and keep your name on the minds of those who may help you one day. Even if they are never able to reciprocate in kind, they will carry your name in their heads and they will mention you and your helpfulness to others, helping to build your brand without you looking like a narcissist.
You Already Have a Brand
A personal brand is really your reputation, or to paraphrase Jeff Bezos, it's what people say about you when you're not in the room. You can manage that to some extent, and you should call people's attention to what you do well. But in the end, no amount of fancy phrasing or bells and whistles is going to convince people to work with you. It's what you do that creates success and it's what you do that will ultimately build your brand for you. Your job is to make sure that what you do is communicated to potential clients, employers, and others via social media, the internet, and other venues.