Monday, August 8, 2016

The importance of building a personal brand

It is now established that people can be brands and we are not talking about Sachin Tendulkar and Priyanka Chopra only. We are talking about people like you and me who have a career and are aspiring for leadership roles. Let’s quickly step back for a moment and figure out what makes brands successful. Successful brands are “relevant“ to their consumers and “different” from their competition. The same applies to personal brands as well. While in earlier generations this was a slow and even arduous task given the paucity of media and the difficulty of getting into it, today, the growth of the internet and the way it’s being consumed, (at times even consuming us) presents great opportunities for brand building at a fairly rapid rate.

It’s not only Facebook silly
Many people tend to be allergic to social media as they are probably put off by the manner in which people bare their souls in public or by the flippant nature of the medium that they tend to totally avoid being online. Sadly several of my clients share the same aversion and trepidation. This reminds me of a concept called “reverse mentoring” that companies like IBM are using to great effect. What basically happens is that senior leaders in the fifties get trained by twenty somethings on how to download videos and how to keep their LinkedIn posts relevant. This is simply because young people take to technology the way ducks take to water whilst many of us older folks can be “technophobes”. And today the smarter older people are harnessing the power of LinkedIn and Twitter to get recognition and followers and in a very short time at that.

“Will GST affect the GDP? Not immediately but an upside of around 2 % after 2 years or thereabouts. Will certainly improve economic efficiency.” – Shankar Khasnis

What will be your sentence?
People who have aspirations of brand leadership must stand for something. Gandhiji stood for nonviolence, Abraham Lincoln for abolition of slavery and Winston Churchill for tenacity in the face of adversity. Business leaders like Ratan Tata, Jack Welch and Richard Branson too stand for strong values. So it is important to figure out what your area of expertise is going to be. Will you be the greatest expert on monetary policy, brand building or even cricket statistics? Carve a niche for yourself, be known as an expert in that chosen area and use social media to own that space. Sounds simple doesn’t it? Yet it calls for a clear strategy and error free execution as brand building is in the details. 
Here are a few people I follow in the social media with diverse abilities and skills.

What are some of the best practices of the social medium?
Don’t shout for attention. If you go to a party and want to get attention you don’t take your shirt off do you? You work yourself into groups, make interesting, often self-deprecating conversation to get noticed. The same thing applies to social media as well. Don’t try to get there too soon.  Numbers don’t matter as much quality and substance of the interaction.

Have a point of view
Some of us are talented and interested enough to write blogs while the reality is some of us are not. Though I must quickly tell you that writing is a bit like Maths, the more you apply yourself the better you will be. The other interesting thing would be to share interesting things that you see online with your own comment on the same. You need not necessarily agree with the author all the time but making an interesting observation about a well written piece which can be brief establishes your own credentials and confidence on the chosen subject. Contrast this with the old days when all of us built our reputation only by writing articles, books and delivering lectures!

Don’t go into overdrive
I have stopped following a few people on twitter as they are jamming my timeline with so many posts! I am also put off by people who are constantly selling themselves or their organisations. No one wants to go to bed with a salesman who is constantly talking about his product. In my opinion revealing some aspects of one’s personality breaks the tedium and gives an insight into the character and interests of the person which is not necessarily a bad thing.

Rome was not built in a day
Sometimes we expect too much too soon. Building brands today is quicker but can rarely happen overnight unless you are a Kabali! I remember this adage from my working life “chase success and money will follow”. The same principle applies to building your online brand as well, don’t look for results, just be consistent and the results will follow.
And finally be yourself! Each one of us has some unique characteristics and traits, further them rather than being someone you are not.

All the best! Hope to follow you soon!

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