Orrin Hudson, founder of the Atlanta-based nonprofit Be Someone Inc. (www.besomeone.org), an organization that teaches children team-building skills, continues to marvel at the attention he gets from strangers. “I wonder how [I got onto] their radar screen,” he muses.
Perhaps they recognize Hudson from the media coverage he has received. Hudson hasn’t left the development of his personal brand to chance. He has been methodical in his approach.
Part of his strategy was in hiring Genece Hamby, founder of Personal Branding DNA (www.personalbrandingdna.com), a company that helps clients become “distinguishable, notable, and authentic.”
“Most people do not have a clear knowledge of what makes them powerfully unique or don’t know how to express themselves in a compelling way,” explains Hamby.
But getting there should not be seen as a difficult process. “We’ve all been branded from birth,” offers David McNally, co-author of Be Your Own Brand (Berrett–Koehler Publishers; $22). “[And as adults] your personal brand [continues to be] the perception that people have of you.” There is a formula, however, one can follow to build a personal brand that garners positive results
Define your values. What do you stand for? Because it’s easy to get lost in a corporate culture dictated by your employer, it’s important to take the time to clarify your position. “To stand up for your values requires courage,” adds McNally. “Once you decide you want to be a strong brand, you will not put yourself in positions where you have to compromise.”
Be real. Personal brands aren’t invented — they’re experienced. “Many people think personal branding is treating yourself like a product. That’s insane! Real personal brands are defined by people who are willing to allow their natural talents and strengths to stand out without manipulation or dressing themselves up as imitations,” says Hamby.
Build relationships. While credentials can initially make you more attractive to a potential employer, how you interact with people will dictate the possibilities of long-standing relationships.
Be Visible. What good is your personal brand if no one knows you exist? Market yourself by speaking on panels at conferences, teaching at a local college, or contributing a column to a newspaper. You must continue to develop and nurture your network.
Live in gratitude. Hamby remembers working with a janitor who strongly believed in his role at the company. “Not only did he clean the offices beyond what was expected, he used to put a fresh rose on the women’s desks to make them feel good on Monday mornings,” Hamby recalls. He was nominated the best employee every year, and won a $5,000 cash bonus for excellence.
Personal branding really requires diligence in pursuing your purpose with the God-given talents you were born with. “When you are aligned from the inside out and there’s congruency, that’s where a true personal brand grows and gains power and momentum,” says Hamby. “You know the value in what you’re delivering and have unwavering conviction and confidence, believe in your value, and work and live it passionately.”
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