"Personal branding" has become such a colloquialism that most of the people who use it are unlikely to ever stop and think about what it means, or how
“Personal branding” has become such a colloquialism that most of the people who use it are unlikely to ever stop and think about what it means, or how the meanings of the words involved affect the meaning of the entire phrase. When we say “personal branding,” more often than not we are thinking of how we project ourselves in the world for the purposes of making network connections.
So why not call it “professional projection” instead? What is this elusive “personal brand”? Does it mean the same thing for everyone, are there as many personal brands as there are people, and what allows for both the separation between and the combination of the person and the brand they are trying to create?
There is a lot of pressure on individual businesspeople, no matter their industry, to appear at once human, superhuman, and not human at all. They need to take up the mantle at the same time of being a personable individual as well as a high-powered and efficient professional machine.
Personal vs. personality
Personality can be an extremely loaded term. When it comes to social circles, most people use it to describe other people, to make generalizations about their traits, and to describe them to other people in terms of those traits in the most efficient way possible. When you describe your own personality to friends and family, it can be a way to investigate and highlight your strengths, boost your self esteem, curate your interests, and even find areas of improvement.
However, that term becomes a little more complicated when you enter the professional sphere. You are still expected to have personality, but you are also expected not to get too personal. However, neither can you act too aloof. You need to translate your personality into your business model, and there are as many ways to do that as there are people.
The personality element of business is, in a way, even more socially contingent than the personality element of a social life. You have to find your identity based on the context of your professional interactions. This may be similar to or very different from your private personality.
Finding that balance comes down to understanding yourself just as well as or better than you understand your profession, your market, and your clientele. Knowing your personality helps you figure out your strengths and weaknesses, and which ones you can highlight in a professional environment.
Knowing your aptitudes and shortcomings can also help you build the best team possible, because it will require you to inventively design complementary working relationships. You will be looking for people who may have similar temperaments, but different skill sets; similar goals, but different backgrounds.
Personality, on a “personal” level, can be entirely an exercise in individual exploration. But when it comes to creating a personal brand, it’s all about context. You exist as a businessperson in relation to those you network with, serve, and interact with. Let your interactions with these people inform your personal brand. Pay attention to situations in which you thrive and develop them more consummately into the image you project.
You will be surprised at how evident it is what people respond to in you. Think about how you can take positive relations to the next level, and globalize your specific skills to the bulk of your professional relationships.