Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Building your personal brand. What's your message?

We only have one body, one identity, one life. Our uniqueness is ours alone, and doesn't belong to anyone else but us. It's easy to hide behind the company we work for. Or the people we associate with. Some people just don't want to "put themselves out there." Living under the radar, so to speak, seems more comfortable. And yet we long for some level of personal success, achievement, satisfaction or fulfillment.

But I don't believe there's any reason to hide our strengths. Who we are. Our authenticity. It would be like the parable of the man who hid his talents by burying them. To him were given no more. But to the man who utilized his talents, many more were given.

Some people think that building a brand identity costs a lot of money. Or time. It really doesn't have to. Brands can be built almost entirely using the internet these days -- and many of the services are free or at nominal cost. Just like anything else, it's only difficult if we make it difficult.

What do you want to be known for? What do you want to say? What lesson have you learned that you'd like to share? What can you teach from your experience? What opinion do you have about a topic that you're passionate about?

Brands are simply a culmination of thoughts and images of an individual or company, and the perception of that brand is often in the eye of the beholder. Brands are never fully built or complete. Rather, they are moving targets being shaped proactively by the owner and those with whom the owner interacts.

When you ask some people about their brand, they think about the brand of the company they work for or are associated with. But I like to ask people about their own personal and individual brand. Yes, that's right -- I'm asking you. Are you proactively crafting your unique story? Do people know who you are and what you stand for? Or are you standing idly by waiting for your brand to be created all by itself?

I encourage you to take some action today. I'm amazed at how many people still do not have something simple as a website or blog that begins to define them. God has given us gifts in the form of talents. Let's not bury them in the sand.

There's a video about a little boy who picks up a starfish on the beach and throws it back into the ocean. And an observer asks what he is doing. And he tells that man that if the starfish doesn't get thrown back in it will die. As the man looks across the beach that goes on for miles, he says to the boy that he can't possibly make a difference as there is miles of beach and hundreds maybe thousands of starfish that have washed up. As the little boy throws another starfish in the ocean, he replies by saying "I made a difference for that one."

Building a personal brand isn't about us necessarily. Oh, it can be, for sure. But it's really about being authentic and true to ourselves. And it's about sharing a story or lesson that perhaps just one person -- another human being -- can be inspired by and go on to do something in his or her life that's good. Something that maybe he or she wouldn't have done if the two people had not crossed paths. Take action today. You'll be surprised at the goodness you'll receive in return.
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