Maybe you’re considering a career move, or a shift in projects, or maybe you just want to get to the next level in your work. How do you know you’re heading in the right direction? What is the purpose driving you forward and how does it add up to your overall career progression?
A strong personal brand can guide you through these daunting questions. It helps you reach your goals by mapping out how you want to be perceived, what you stand for, and how your career goals are aligned with what you desire in life.
But creating and managing such a brand is a tall order. It calls for introspection and soliciting external help. You need to search for the real YOU, beyond your job title, academic qualifications or experience. Separating the wheat from the chaff, you have to figure out your accomplishments, personal qualities, and values, as well as the areas where you excel, the powers which are your natural reserve, and the traits that equip you to do things better than others.
These details are not always evident on the surface, and it can feel almost like you’ve set out on a journey without a map or even a destination.
But like every other journey, this inward journey begins with a small step. Read through the following topics and ask yourself these questions — use them as an exercise in gathering insights and feedback about you.
- What Are Your Passions?
Your passions tell something about you; something that others may find interesting. You actually GAIN energy when you are dealing with subjects and activities you’re passionate about. I’m not saying passion is everything, but people can tell when you’re really into it, and when you’d rather be somewhere else.
- What kind of work do you find meaningful, where you are willing to give your 100%?
- Do you derive satisfaction in mentoring; training others and helping them succeed? Or are you a rainmaker who’ll stop at nothing to create the next great opportunity?
- About what topics can you talk endlessly?
Looking at the answers to these questions, you can ensure that your brand remains rooted in your authentic passions.
- What Are Your Values?
Your values drive you when things get tough, so anchor on them for your personal brand or you won’t really be living the values that you say you’re about. Being steadfast to your values makes you more credible and gives your personal brand a meaning beyond self-promotion, explains Jay Palter in his blog, ‘Key To Personal Branding Is To Be Your Values.’ You could start with some basic questions such as:
- What situations make you feel angriest or most annoyed? What does this mean about what’s important to you?
- Does it move you when you see people own up to their mistakes? What other behavior do you react strongly to?
- What are your beliefs about how you should live your life and conduct your work? For example, if there is work to be done, and others are unwilling to take up the slack, what would your call be? What are your views on ownership at work?
A more detailed exercise you can do with a friend is suggested by Susan Chritton in her blog. Where you write down a list of your top core values, and then you have to go through turns where you pick one value to remove from the list – you end up deciding what values are the most important to you.
Looking at the answers to these questions, you can focus on living your brand through expressing these values.
- What Do You See As Your Purpose?
Within and beyond your career, is there a purpose to your life? Identify what you want to pursue, what you want to avoid, and how you wish to be remembered.
- Beyond your performance Key Result Areas (KRAs), what’s your mission in your role? What about beyond your current role? What lasting impact do you desire to create in your career?
- Is your professional career connected to your overall purpose in life in some way? Does one fuel the other?
- If you hit a jackpot and didn’t need to work, how would you spend your time?
Looking at the answers to these questions, you can determine what ‘good’ looks like for you and what ultimate goal you’re driving at in your career and life.
- What Are Your Strengths?
Your talents, skills and experiences are the immediate value that you bring to the table. Discover and articulate them well for others to better identify and trust in your strengths.
- What are your top 3 technical or functional skills?
- What are your top 3 soft skills (sometimes called ‘people skills’)?
- Professionally, what is the most appropriate way to classify what you do? For example, programmer, tester, architect, consultant, researcher, writer, communications expert, trainer or etc.
Looking at the answers to these questions, you can describe your best skills, and act with strength and competence in those areas.
- What’s Your Superpower?
Your superpowers are the things you do better than everyone else, with little effort. Try harnessing those natural powers by applying extra focus and in due course you could be wielding a powerful tool that can attract others and earn you rewards.
- Which skills or capabilities are you most proud of?
- Within your team, what do you do better than anyone else?
- If you were to receive an award, what would it be for?
Looking at the answers to these questions, you can differentiate from the crowd in meaningful ways.
- What’s Your Preferred Working Style?
People generally like to work in ways that complement their skills, ensuring that they make progress toward their goals comfortably. You’ll want to think about the natural ways in which you prefer to operate, to understand under what conditions you work best with others.
- What is the level of detail you need to make a decision? Do you go by the gut or prefer to wait for evidence before taking the call?
- Are you a stickler for processes and systems or do you prefer to be flexible when you hit roadblocks or need alternatives?
- Do you believe in marketing your ideas or wait for them to take shape and unfold?
Looking at the answers to these questions, you can channel your efforts to work in harmony with your natural tendencies.
- How Does Your Personality Affect Other People?
The way you work and behave creates an impression about you on others. People will judge you based on your temperament, integrity and concern for others. To get the most benefit from this question (or really any of these questions), it may be a good idea for you to spend some time asking these questions about you to your co-workers or friends.
- Are you able to encourage collaboration on teams? How?
- How do you share feedback or delegate work?
- What are the top three qualities that your colleagues remember about you?
Looking at the answers to these questions, you will be more conscious of the impact you are creating on others.
- What Kind of Culture Resonates With You?
Analyze the kinds of organizations where you do your best work. Paint the picture of your ‘perfect fit’ culture — the ideal place for you to shine.
- Do you thrive in a fast-paced environment, with people close by, and where the most adaptable win?
- Do you recognize the value in long-held traditions that create success?
- What kinds of environments seem to bring out your best?
Looking at the answers to these questions can help you envision and construct the right surroundings for you to contribute optimally.
It is indeed a painstaking task requiring multiple iterations. You will need to spend time examining your actions and emotions, and consulting other people. But first try to start this questioning alone, and then try it with a coach or friend.
And don’t think about this work as merely an ego exercise, but as an investigative one, with your own source of energy and direction as its goal. Remember that your personal brand is as much about how you fit into the world, as how you stand out from it.
“What you take out of the world…is much less important than what you put into the world. Follow your contribution instead. Find the thing you’re great at, put that into the world, contribute to others, help the world be better.” Ben Horowitz
Defining your personal brand is about seeking clarity and purpose in your career and in your life. Once you have this clarity, you can set out on your journey with confidence, knowing where you’re going and how to get there.
Take heart and get started!
- Don’t Be Boring! Make Intentional Choices
- Why Struggle to Fit In When You Were Born to Stand Out?
- Be Brave and Find Your Voice
MetaMorph Corporation is dedicated to creating the future of unique, personal branding. Find out more.