Confident Leader

Does your personal brand reinforce your credibility?

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Your personal brand is the most important tool in your career and business resources. It’s more important than having a team, much more important than financial backing, and even more important than intelligence.

And that personal brand needs to be fostered and developed, in everything you do and communicate: from the most formal to the most off-the-cuff social media.

The way we work has changed dramatically and continues to advance at a rapid pace. This is in part due to increased globalisation, technological advances, the advent and rise of social media and the blurring of the lines between our professional and personal lives.

Hyper-complexity is the new normal and whether you like it or not, in order to succeed in this increasingly demanding global economy, you need to differentiate yourself.

Having a great career history is not enough; you need to have a strong personal brand that has an edge and allows you to put your best foot forward.

The Women who Lead program has been designed to empower women to lead with confidence, visibility and influence, so a critical element of the program is the focus on cultivating each participant’s personal brand. Many women are at a loss for where to start, have difficulty identifying their own strengths, and feel reluctant to self-promote. Through increasing self-awareness, utilising strengths-based feedback, an exploration of personal values and purpose, we empower women to embrace their personal brand.

While the term, personal branding, is gaining momentum and is now an oft used phrase, it has been in existence for decades and historically described the process of marketing individuals as Blog-54-700x484brands. In today’s market, the definition of personal branding has evolved and now describes the process by which individuals differentiate themselves by identifying their unique value proposition, and leveraging it across platforms with a consistent message and image to achieve a specific goal. Through personal branding, leaders shape their reputation and the expectations others (often their teams) have of them.

It is important to note that an authentic personal brand is not a logo, tagline or elevator pitch. It is not a marketing tactic. Rather, it is about positioning yourself authentically and consistently in both online and offline channels – such as speeches, conference presentations, publications, business networks, social media connections, and testimonials. By doing so, individuals can heighten their recognition as experts in their field, boost their reputation and credibility, advance their careers, and build self-confidence.

Personal branding is influential because it sends a clear, unambiguous message about who you are and what you have to offer. A strong, accurate and trustworthy personal brand helps you become known for what you are good at, differentiates you from your peers, and can position you as an expert.

You only ever get one chance to make a good first impression

We have heard this old adage many times, and it happens to be true. If you want stakeholders to buy into your ideas, believe your communications and/or take action on your recommendations they need to recognise you as a credible leader.

Credibility is a combination of being seen by others to be trustworthy, convincing, and reliable, and requires a combination of demonstrated competence, underpinned by expert knowledge. It is a decision formed in the minds of other people who are watching you, following you or those who need to rely on you – particularly your team members, managers and other key stakeholders.

Whilst you can build credibility over time, you only ever get one chance to make a good first impression and your personal brand will be a major contributor to the impression created in the mind of the person or team you are interacting with.

Therefore, whilst your online presence (including intra-office communications) needs to be consistent and reflect your personal brand, your in-person image must also be in alignment. If the way you dress and the language you use does not fit with how your stakeholders and followers believe a competent leader should dress, behave and speak, they will not consider you to be credible, and you are effectively undermining yourself.

Is your online identity consistent with your offline identity?

At the heart of successful personal branding is consistency. Your digital presence is visible to anyone who wants to find you and it must be consistent with your offline brand.

Often, people will research you online before they meet you and it helps inform their opinions about you. It establishes expectations. This means that Google search results need to stay clean, Facebook profiles need to either be private or be carefully monitored etc. In other words, you are your online identity.

Personal branding as a leadership requirement

Through personal branding, leaders shape their reputation and the expectations others have of them.

We recognise leaders with strong personal brands and their brand is a core element of their leadership style. Richard Branson, Rupert Murdoch, Arianna Huffington and Christine Lagarde come to mind. Whilst you may not use the phrase “personal brand”, you have probably talked about these leaders in terms of trademark, characteristics or traits.

Women Who LeadThese leaders recognise that their personal brand is an asset and they live their professional lives through this filter. When leaders can identify what they want to be known for, it helps give them focus and relinquish tasks that do not reinforce their brand. When this occurs, and your brand is first and foremost, your perspective often changes as you have become more mindful about your brand, how you define it and how you want to be perceived.

Let us use Richard Branson as an example. Everyone at Virgin knows what he stands for and if they are ambitious they emulate his behaviour and style. A key element of the credibility paradigm is that leaders lead by example, further reinforcing their brand proposition.

Another key element is visibility and this is another distinguishing characteristic that Branson, Murdoch, Huffington, and Lagarde share. We have discussed how stakeholders need to deem their leaders to be credible or they will not follow them. Relying on electronic communication alone will not enable you to establish a strong and credible personal brand. Your stakeholders need to see you being a leader. You must be visible.

Remember, that if you have developed the wrong leadership brand for the role you have (or want) then you are undermining your own credibility. Conversely, a strong personal brand will allow your leadership and credibility to be known to your stakeholders, enabling you to generate maximum value.

To know more about how building your presence and personal brand join the Women who Lead program in October 4th & 5th, and 18th in Melbourne limited spots available.

 

 

About Melissa Lewis

Melissa Lewis, founder of Style Confidante, is one of Australia’s leading personal brand, image and empowerment specialists. Her 1:1 sessions, corporate workshops and networking events empower professional women to elevate their confidence, visibility, influence and style. For more information, call 0405 440 366 or visit www.styleconfidante.com.au

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