What immediately comes to mind when you see a picture of:
Chances are, your immediate thoughts were something along these lines:
- Ryan Lochte – Olympic medalist, party boy, “ladies man,” hot body, not always articulate (JEAH!)
- Nicki Minaj – singer/songwriter, rapper, wild, over-the-top, colorful, crazy fashion sense
- Angelina Jolie – adoptions, philanthropic, global, actress, Brad Pitt
If you Google these people, the stories and pictures that come up in your search results will likely support these perceptions. Am I a mind reader? No. Has Google started tapping into your brain waves to give you the results you expect? Maybe.
The perceptions we have about these people stem from the fact that they have – either purposely or accidentally – developed clear personal brands. Their actions, fashion choices, relationships and words have built what we see as their personal brand. Over time, this personal brand can easily evolve based on your actions, sometimes turning into a perception that is different from what you intended.
Does Ryan Lochte want to be known as a not-always-articulate party boy? From where I stand it appears the answer is JEAH! But chances are he’d rather be known as an incredible swimmer and an Olympic champion instead. Sure, we know the boy can swim, but our immediate perception goes beyond that now (party boy, “ladies man,” etc.) and speaks more to what his brand has become.
If you’re like me, you aren’t famous (YET – we have to keep hoping, right?), and the masses likely wouldn’t be able to list off what comes to mind when they see your picture. But you still have a personal brand. If you haven’t already, think about what you want to be known for. You should know what you want your personal brand to be, so that you can embody it and so people begin recognizing your brand.
Don’t be shocked by your Google results!
Image courtesy of imagerymajestic / FreedigitalPhotos.net
Mashable recently published an article advising students on how to kick-start a personal brand online. Three takeaways:
- Know what’s online –Google yourself to see what comes up. Potential employers will do this and you need to be aware of what they will see. There are some really cool ways for you to impact your own SEO, and even control what comes up first in a Google search on your name.
- Supercharge your personal brand – Make sure you own your name – on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and any other social networks. If you have a more common name, it can be hard to secure your name’s ownership. One way to tackle this and help manage search results is to create a website with a carefully-chosen URL and content, an online portfolio for example, that will help you appear at the top of search results for your name. Once you’ve developed your personal brand, make it consistent across these networks (and PLEASE check for grammar!).
- Leverage social media – Ask industry-related questions, participate in blog comment threads and share smart articles about your areas of interest. Potential employers will be impressed by your involvement and the intelligence you show about your field online.
In the case of your personal brand, perception often is reality. It is important to understand what others perceive your brand to be as you begin building it for yourself. Do you want to be known as compassionate, but some of your friends think you are cold? Do you want to be known as serious, but your classmates consider you to be the class clown?
Here’s your project, courtesy of our own Porter Novelli Atlanta personal branding expert Demeika Thompson:
- Write down three things you want to be known for or that you feel best describes you.
- Ask three people from different areas of your life (a family member, classmate, teacher, professional contact, significant other, etc.) to tell you words or phrases that come to mind when they think about you.
- See how well their answers match what you want to be known for.
Using all of the information you have gathered, draft a one-to-two sentence personal brand statement. This is something that may shift over time, but the core of who you are will be captured and remain. Start using this to brand yourself, and make sure you remain true to it (both online and off).
To know if you have discovered your personal brand, you’ll want this equation to be true:
Your self-impression = How people perceive you.
– Amanda Coppock, Porter Novelli Atlanta