What’s your personal brand? You should already be able to answer this question based on our recent podcast ‘How to do brand you’. Now we are going to do something even more exciting, which is communicating your personal brand!
Communicating your brand can be super easy, as long as you keep these aspects in mind:
1. Be honest
People may know you for some skills and strengths…like your amazing organising power or your capacity for compassion and caring for others. But do they know about your creativity or your ability to think strategically about the future? If all of these feature in your brand, then be clear on which aspects people ALREADY know you for and which you would wish they knew MORE about. For those aspects you are known for, keep hitting that message home; for those aspects you’re not known for, you’re going to have to start being explicit about those parts of your brand. Make it CLEAR to others.
2. Know your audience
You’re bound to have people you particularly want to get on board with you (e.g. your colleagues, boss, boss’s boss). Well for each of these individuals or groups, you will need to work out why what you’ve got MATTERS TO THEM so that they can see the value of it and think of you more often when that kind of opportunity comes onto their radar. I might have creativity and strategic thinking but those are just words. For your boss, that might translate to getting insight and new thinking into their budgeting and planning process for next year. For the team, it might be coming up with new product or service ideas and then structuring these into a plan. Either way, just saying ‘hey I have these things I make available to you’ is only part of it, the other part is helping others see why this matters to them.
3. Talk about it
Let others know what you have, why it should matter to them and how they can use you more. Sounds easy but often it isn’t, because we tend to feel awkward when talking about stuff that we’re good at. A great way to do it is to say that you’d LOVE to have a go at that task or project because it’s something that you really enjoy and you’re trying to stretch yourself in that direction, plus you reckon you’d be pretty good at it. Think about the classic ‘elevator pitch’ – if you only had 10 seconds to pitch yourself to some super important megastar person in your life, what would you say that would get you noticed? And remember, you need to repeat these messages consistently to ensure you get your point across, to ensure that you get noticed.
4. Write about it
Talking is one thing but writing is another. I would highly recommend upgrading your CV and your online presence with the clear consistent messages you have developed in your brand pyramid and plan. So if you’re describing yourself on LinkedIn or in a CV, job board, website, wherever, try and keep the messaging as consistent as possible so that it gives that clarity to others on what you stand for, what you’re good for, and how that could benefit them.
Have you ever thought about how others perceive you? What about how you could present yourself to the world in the same way the products and companies do? I am referring to having your own brand values, features, benefits and a big promise of what you will get if you use this company or product, in this case, if others work with you! So what’s your personal brand?
Creating your brand is challenging but worthwhile! And that’s why we would love to share with you how to do that:
1. Draw a triangle
Take a pen or pencil, a piece of paper and draw a big triangle and turn it into 3 layers. The bottom layer is your values (what you stand for), the next layer up is your qualities (i.e. skills and strengths, in other words, your unique selling points) and the top one is your legacy you will leave (this includes purpose).
Let’s start at the bottom with your values. You could have as many or as few as you like (in general people typically end up with up to 10 values). To get to your values fast, make sure you ask yourself, ‘what makes you angry or upset or annoyed?’ as quite often the answer is related to your values. For instance, if you find yourself getting emotional and angry when you see people arguing or fighting, that may relate to the value of harmony or peace. If you feel upset when you see injustice, it might be a value of fairness. Try to ask friends and family what they think you stand for or feel strongly about too as that may bring up some new ideas.
3. The difference you make
Your unique selling points or the features of a product might be a good analogy here. Now here is often where people start to differentiate between things they are known for but don’t enjoy doing and the things that they would love to get to do more of the time. So I would include things here that others know and value you for but also things that you looooove to do and you would like to do more of. All the things you love to contribute at work and in life with friends, family, clients and work colleagues. So your unique selling points could look like this: optimism, energy, sharing, evidence, insight, a balanced view and an unshakable belief in.
4. Your legacy
This is what difference all those great qualities you’ve just described are going to make in the world – why anyone should employ you or work with you. The impact you have, the legacy you will leave! It’s similar to the idea of the benefits of a product or service and the promise that is made by the company offering it. So here you’re going to get into wordsmithing – try and get down to as few words as possible, a sentence or two max. Think here along the lines of how you would like to be introduced to a group of people at work, or perhaps at a conference, or to a new team. 10 words or less would be amazing.
I would take as long as you need to do this, get the help of friends and family and work colleagues to give you insight and ideas. Don’t worry if it doesn’t come easy – it rarely does but is worth it when you’re there. Also bear in mind that the whole thing is dynamic and changes over time, often quite a bit. It can change in direction, you might just feel you need to go through the process again because something has shifted for you or you might just add a word here and there if needed.
So are you now thinking about what to do with your brand? Watch out for our next podcast where we share with you how you can communicate your personal brand and create an action plan for this!
At times, we have to think, act and make decisions at pace. However, being hasty could potentially lead to unforeseen circumstances impacting ourselves, others and the organisation. Therefore, it should come as no surprise that being able to slow down when making decisions can have great benefits – not only are we able to involve others and consider different viewpoints, it allows us to make better and more informed decisions.
So would you like to make a habit of slowing down? Here are our top tips on how to do it:
1. Give yourself a chance
Science shows us that multitasking is impossible. We are never parallel processing, we’re just doing things one after another really quickly, while our neural impulses are rapidly darting across the brain from left to right hemispheres. So if your world is telling you that you need to multitask, remember to take a moment to relax, slow down and give yourself a chance to think and respond – not just panic and react. This is particularly important when working in high intensity environments, experiencing a lot of stimuli all at once. So if you can learn how to pull back, separate yourself from the intensity of a situation and slow things right down, you give yourself a lot more in the way of choices.
2. Connect properly
Go slower, reduce the pace of your thinking, speaking and acting, to pay better attention to verbal and non-verbal communication all around you. This will help you read people and situations so much better! Therefore, the next time you’re sitting somewhere – café, park, train, meeting – just slow right down. Get rid of all the random thoughts and distractions that rattle around in your brain all day long, keeping you from being in the moment (because you’re being drawn to the future or the past) and just people watch. You’ll be amazed at what a wealth of information you’ll pick up about what’s really going on. And that helps enormously in connecting with people at a respectful, human level.
3. Build resilience
Going slow helps you to feel more in control and less overwhelmed by all the hectic madness because you’re able to do two things: firstly, recognise that there are things in your control and that you have a choice in every situation (creating a sense of confidence and strength in stressful and unpredictable situations). And secondly, you then have time to focus in on what matters to you – your purpose and values, to find it easier to keep a sense of perspective when things get busy.
Going slow helps you really appreciate your surroundings and everything life gives you, good and bad. In the podcast on the negativity bias, we explained how our brains are hardwired to pay more attention to negative stimuli – thoughts, feelings, emotions. Which means that to create more balance in the way we see and interact with the world, we need to spend proportionally more time attending to the positives, which is unusual for us as humans. To do this well, it’s essential to slow down and really savour the positive – tastes, smells, emotions, sights, sounds, experiences – so that we’re immersed in the full spectrum that the world has to offer.
A little while back I recorded a podcast on doing more of what you love – which links really closely to this blog. In fact, it should really help you to nail what your strengths are…which is essential if you’re going to do more of what you love every day.
So at Strengthscope, we define strengths as those qualities that energise you, what you are great at, or have the potential to become great at. This isn’t the dictionary definition, this is different – so we’re talking about things that get you excited, engaged, passionate, enthusiastic… ENERGISED!
It’s a really important element to the definition because, without it, we’d be left with what we’re great at, or have the potential to become great at, which is more the kind of thing you’d find in a dictionary description of the word ‘strength’. But that could bring in stuff that you’re just good at, even exceptional at, but which doesn’t energise you, maybe doesn’t interest you. It could even drain you to do it too much of the time. A classic example of this I touched on in the Doing more of what you love podcast is focusing on detail – many people have developed this as a necessary skill because it’s something that’s expected, but they don’t love it, don’t enjoy it, and would rather someone else did it given the choice. Well, that’s not a strength by this definition, it’s a skill.
Strengths, if you could include the energise part then are often driven by values – things that we hold dear and true. So one of my strengths is collaboration – I absolutely LOVE finding things in common with others and working with them on those things. I’m pretty good at it because I’ve learned skills in using the strength well and for me, it’s driven by values of ‘sharing’ and ‘connection’, so it runs REALLY deep. When I’m collaborating with someone I feel different – engaged, awake, alive, focused, STRONG, and that gives you a hint as to how to find your own strengths.
Around 2006, I worked with a team to develop a whole method for helping people find, measure and develop their strengths – that’s called Strengthscope®, the name of my company – and there are other tools out there… you know, online questionnaires and profilers, that can help you do this. But even without these, and actually, even if you have used tools like Strengthscope®, it’s still worth having more ways of exploring and discovering what strengthens you. So here are my Top 5 tips for finding your strengths:
Check out day to day what you choose to do first, what you prioritise, what’s your go to feel-good activity or task and explore why that might be, what it is that’s drawing you towards it. People often talk about when they were children, how they just did the stuff they loved, but then life got in the way and ‘shoulds’ and ‘musts’ and ‘ought to’s’ started becoming more important in their self-talk and before long, some of the naturalness of their choices dropped away in favour of important adult things. So try and recapture that inner child and get curious about why you choose the things you do. Thinking about my collaboration strength, I know that to get energised I will almost certainly connect with someone else to get my energy going. Or if I have a choice of tasks, I’ll go to the one which I’m doing with or for someone else. That’s because I value sharing and connection and that manifests as collaboration.
As you make your way through the working day and week, check in with your FEELINGS about what you’re doing, as that’s a great clue as to whether you’re using strengths or just skills. If you’re in the strengths zone, you’re more likely to be experiencing positive emotions – you’ll be happier, more relaxed and more positive when using a strength. So get good at feeling how you’re feeling – people do keep strengths diaries to help with this as it can help sort true strengths from standard skills.
If you’re using strengths, there’s a lot of research that shows you’ll find it easier to learn, to take on board new information and develop skill too in that area. Subjects at the University of Nebraska were given two chances at a speed reading test. Those who were average at speed reading made solid gains (66% increase in words per minute) after getting training and learning new tactics. Yet the magic happened with the above average readers. Those who had a natural strength in speed reading saw an 828% increase in the number of words read per minute.
So if you find that you get success when engaging in a particular activity that you’re good at it, that it feels natural, that’s a good sign of a strength. It’s not the only sign because that might just be a skill at work, but if you enjoy it too and you get feedback from others that this is like a natural talent for you, you’re in strengths territory.
So because strengths are usually supported by values, that is something that’s important to you, that you value, you’re more likely to stay focused, determined, driven, to persevere with it even when it’s challenging. So you won’t let it go so easily, or give up. You’ll see it through. I know this with collaboration – even if someone else starts to lose the faith a bit with something we’re working on, because I get so much energy from the opportunity to work with that person, I’ll keep going, remind them of why we’re doing this, of what we’ve achieved so far and what the prize or goal is; and often that will bring them around and I’m super-energised all over again.
And why was all that important again anyway? Because when we know our strengths, we know what makes us positively different, how we can create more value for people around us and in our roles and careers, we feel better, we do better and we live better. So get strengths curious and put the lens on yourself… as well as other people around you. Strength spotting in others is a great way of learning how to do it better in yourself!