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How to promote yourself without being a jerk – could you be a living treasure?

I’ve just arrived from one of my series of sessions on ‘online personal brand’ with an independent school in Sydney city.  I’m working with Year 12’s teaching them to take responsibility for their personal brand online and off.  We’ve discussed that a personal brand is about being yourself on purpose – not trying to be something you are not. It’s about being in integrity with representing who you are and having a more thought-through purpose and definition around what you have to offer. We determined that each of us are captains of our personal brand whether we like it or not!

It was as eye opening for them as it is for my corporate clients. And to give context, we went through examples of individuals who have a strong personal brand –for better and worse. We looked at Kyle Sandilands, Kim Kardashian, Charlie Sheen, Lady Gaga and Princess Diana. We looked at Politicians such as Obama, Lady Margaret Thatcher and our local Vicar! We looked at examples ‘gone wrong’ – where individuals have crushed their personal brand by making ill thought through (and ill posted) comments. These included Politicians, CEO’s and even school girls!

While it’s not my job to moralise the personal brands of others, it is my intention to show these young people that in today’s world –  just like the captains of industry I work with in my profession – your personal brand influences the money you make, the opportunities that come your way and how people perceive you. How you dress, speak, behave, react to others, present yourself is important. When I receive 80 resumes a week – all from great individuals, how do I differentiate each applicant?

In our uberconnected environments, the way we live magnifies and intensifies the way we are perceived, how we communicate who we are and what we stand for.  And things are changing. Whereas in some circles it used to be (and still is seen) as unseemly to put yourself out there, in a magnified and highly competitive world, it is it as much about building ‘brand you’ as you would build the brand of your company, product or service.

To demonstrate the point, the announcement of our new National Living Treasures this week was interesting. It included a refugee, scientist, mining magnate and two of the nation’s best-loved entertainers. Sure, celebrities tend to have a strong personal brand presence today and it’s the norm, but interesting to look at how the refugee (of which there are thousands), or the scientist (of which there are hundreds) became heard of, nominated and noticed?  Is it because as well as being notable in the things they;ve achieved, they put themselves out there and well, were noticed?

There is of course a thin line between promoting yourself effectively and overdoing it. The avid self-promotor is not looked on favourably by us Aussies in a country scathing of Tall Poppies. There is nothing more irritating than someone, so out there, that you are not sure what they really stand for. The noise is larger than the skillset.

But there are ways to solidify and strengthen your personal brand with professional and disciplined balance as well as through sticking to core competencies. In the corporate world we call it thought leadership and as consumers we all want leaders in a topic with strong and fair opinions.

So my tips to assist?  It’s about becoming a genuine expert that can be found. Yes there may be thousands of people who do what you do, but how do you differentiate yourself and be the one that people seek.

  • Know your strengths and weaknesses
  • Ask others for their opinion –  most of us are too modest!
  • Know what you stand for
  • Find your topic of expertise
  • Then prove that you are solid – with articles and stories
  • Seek testimonials from others
  • Write, write, write or get others to write your thoughts and opinions for you
  • Be gracious
  • Define your core brand values
  • In life, on the whole reciprocity is key
  • Seek opinions from others
  • Maximise your linked in profile and get onto social media sites – it is strong google juic
  • Be confident but not cocky

For me and my clients, a solid, reputable personal brand in integrity with who you are, is a positive element of life inside and outside work.  Have fun!


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