A question – What is the most disgusting, repulsive, obnoxious, vulgar thing we need to think about? – Personal Branding
One of the most Irish traits we have is that most of us are deeply repulsed by the notion of talking about ourselves in a positive way. We are an extremely modest and self-depreciating people for the most part.
In our professional lives, this means we generally avoid sticking our heads above the parapet to become more visible and proactively enhance our reputations. In fact, we often avoid even thinking it. We hate it so much we actually construct all sorts of make believe notions, such as ‘’its better to be seen as a best kept secret’’ or ‘’the right people know who I am’’ or ‘’being too out there is frowned upon.’’
We also have an ingrained notion that the people around us, be it friends, family or work colleagues, don’t want to hear what we have to say and that they will mock or ridicule us for sharing what we think or what we know. In Ireland, we’re all afraid of getting a ‘big head’.
The strange thing is, though, that we spend so much time listening, following and admiring people who are visible and who do put themselves out there, be it at work, in our social lives, on social media or on radio and television. We just lack the confidence to do it ourselves.
Especially in a world dominated by social media, we do need to start thinking more about our personal brand, which is really two things – professional reputation and visibility. Companies, Governments and major organisations spend untold billions every year to enhance their brands, but as individuals we shy away from it, even though we know it is important.
Our professional reputation is borne out of our actions and our values in the workplace. It is built up over a long period of time. You can’t buy it, you have to work on it in everything you do. A strong reputation built up over the long term is priceless and we need to remember that every action in our working lives either adds or takes away from this. Every time you miss a deadline, or make a deadline, matters.
Visibility, or the absence of visibility, is about getting yourself out there so that people can understand you, your values and your reputation.
In the olden days, some of still remember them, this would mean lots of face to face meetings, networking events, getting out and about town to be seen. This is still important, but with social media we now have a unique tool which simultaneously makes personal branding easier and harder. All we need to do is spend a little time on our phones on a regular basis to gain an audience, but everyone else has it too, so there is more competition.
We need to spend some time thinking about social media and what we want to get out of it. We all have valuable insights and knowledge to share, but it requires discipline and regularity. You need to commit time to it on a regular basis for it to be effective.
However, its not just about social media. Making a conscious decision to be more visible in our working lives can involve a lot of other little things, which all add up. Why not volunteer for more speaking and chairing opportunities? You could be the one to say a few words at a colleague’s laving do, or take it upon yourself to organise and suggest things at work, such as charity events.
It is never too late to start, and regardless of career success, being more vocal and visible will work wonders for your confidence and self-esteem.
Whether we like it or not, the notion of personal branding is here to stay, even though it sounds absolutely horrible.