When I first started in Public Relations, more than 15 years ago, the only people worried about Personal Branding were those in the public eye. If they were in the public eye they would typically have a team of people managing their public persona and trust me when I say they had to pull all kinds of favors to ensure the media co-operated!
These days, with the advent of social media, not only are we actively putting ourselves and our lives in public view, there is a wave of everyday individuals making a living (sometimes a very good one) offering a front row seat to their life and promoting products they love (all in their own words). It has been heralded as the ‘Age of the Influencer’ and it has opened up a world of opportunities.
Personal Branding also applies to those on a more traditional career path. If you live in the Western World and partake in modern life you have a digital footprint. You also have the ability to ensure that digital footprint makes a great impression (pun intended). You are your greatest point of difference and it is YOU that your clients, employer, followers, investors and so on, want to understand, learn more about and ultimately buy into.
The reality is, however, for every person who has confidently forged forward and launched a Personal brand; there is another person with an idea, a message and desire to do the same but face the fear of putting themselves out there. Afraid to commit and just do it.
Their major hurdle is twofold. Firstly there is the fear of failure (we have all been there and more than likely still doing that). Secondly, there is the anxiety of committing themselves to a particular style, message and brand proposition, only to change their mind or even worse get it wrong. They find themselves in a state of Personal branding paralysis due to the illusion of perfection.
In her book ‘The Gifts of Imperfection: Let Go of Who You Think You’re Supposed to Be and Embrace Who You Are’, New York Times bestselling author Brene Brown says “Perfectionism is not the same thing as striving to be your best. Perfectionism is the belief that if we live perfect, look perfect, and act perfect, we can minimize or avoid the pain of blame, judgement, and shame. It’s a shield. It’s a twenty-ton shield that we lug around thinking it will protect us when, in fact, it’s the thing that’s really preventing us from flight.”
So for all the perfectionists out there, here are my 5 tips to help you create, shape and manage your perfectly imperfect Personal Brand-
1. There is no such thing as a perfect time to launch. If you are waiting for that elusive moment when you will feel like you are perfect and ready to launch your Personal Brand or put yourself out there in a more significant way, you will be waiting forever. As they say, ‘Perfectionism is the Mother of Procrastination’.
2. Imposter syndrome is
real and it never goes away. No matter what you look like, what you
have achieved, how many degrees you have accumulated and the accolades you have
received, there will always be a part of you questioning whether you are good
enough. Take it from Sheryl Sandberg, Chief Operating Officer at Facebook and
author of ‘Lean In- Women, Work and the Will to Lead’ who says “There are still days
when I wake up feeling like a fraud, not sure I should be where I am.”
3. Your Personal Brand is not set in stone! As you change and grow as a person, your audience will shift and grow with you. If you do grow apart, perhaps you will attract a different audience (potentially an even bigger one). If anything sharing the changes you are going through honestly will only help to create a better bond with your followers. The market no longer wants perfectly scripted sound bites, it wants honest, authentic even at times confronting communication. It is what makes us human.
4. You will never make everyone happy. This is such an important point to get across. Not everyone is going to like your ‘Personal Brand’ and those closest to you are likely to be the harshest critics. All that matters is that you are happy, authentically engaged in life and feeling a sense of purpose. Your Personal Brand is just that, personal, so honor yourself enough to back yourself.
5. Manage your expectations. The truth when it comes to Personal Brand building is it takes time, persistence and repetition. You may not get the results you want immediately. As they say ‘Beyonce wasn’t built in a day’. However, if you are willing to do what it takes to build your brand year on year, then you will be in a better position to celebrate when an unexpected windfall arrives.
Life is short and time is the most valuable asset we have. There is certainly not enough time to waste trying to be perfect. If you have a message you want to share or a desire to be seen and heard, your time is now. I will leave you with this quote by World Peace Advocate, Norman Cousins, “The tragedy of life is not death but what we let die inside of us while we live”.