Be real to build an authentic brand

Personal branding is much more than just self-promotion, it’s about being a genuine human being that is approachable and real. To that end, consider how you come across to those that meet you for the first time, work with you or are your clients. Do they view you as someone who knows himself or herself and can freely admit and share what inspires and what challenges or frustrates you. Or do they perceive you as someone that plays your cards close, doesn’t share about your own life and asks questions to gain information which will be used against them at a later date – even though you may not really be like that.

To build a stellar personal brand you must be real. This includes revealing your lighter side.

I have dealt with people, personally and professionally, that are simply wound too tight. Being around them makes me a little afraid that they may come unwound in my presence. This would not be a pretty sight.

Here’s an example of how I built my brand by using personal stories to make me more real and trustworthy in the eyes of others.

Years ago I did some volunteer work coaching recovering drug addicts and alcoholics to provide them with life skills and preparation for an eventual job search. I had just completed a session when one man approached me and said “Ralph, you haven’t told us about your life and the difficulties you have faced.” It was a challenge for me to be authentic and share something about myself that revealed my humanity, fears, vulnerability as well as strengths. I realized the more I shared about my life, failures and successes, the more real and trust worthy I became. Although I could not relate personally to their challenges, it was important for them to view me as someone who didn’t have a perfect life but as a person that was non-judgmental, supportive and could be trusted.

This was a valuable life lesson for me that I have taken and applied to coaching, training and consulting projects. I have learned that when I become real, I become trustworthy and people open up and share more about themselves and their concerns and aspirations. (There is some inherent risk with doing this but for the most part I believe it is worth it.) Coincidently, the outcome of the project, task or initiative also tends to improve when people reveal more about themselves and are viewed as trustworthy team members.

What about you? Are you viewed by others as someone genuine, trust worthy and worth getting to know as a person?

Here’s an action item for you to consider. Prepare some stories relating to situations, good and bad, that were defining moments in your life. Distill them to insightful, pithy summaries that taught you something important about life, business, relationships, work or parenting that you can freely share with others. Ensure that these stories reveal what you stand for in terms of your beliefs, principles and the values you live by.

If you are struggling to come up with examples, conduct a self-assessment to identify who and what you are. Determine what your strongest attributes and qualities using the FAB (Features, Advantages, Benefit) summary from my “You As The Product” program. Contact me and I’ll send you the worksheet.

When developing an authentic personal brand, it is critical that you gain more self-awareness and understanding into how you can personally create value for your clients, your company and those with whom you interact or serve. Good character is one of the most critical components in becoming a brand that can be trusted and highly valued.

“The first rule of sales and marketing is not “You are who you are.” It is “You are who you appear to be.” – Harry Beckwith, You Inc.

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