A few summer tips to come back to business with intact reputation
So basically we don’t have to do anything for our personal brand, as long as we are in holidays, right? We took a vacation off our duties, our competent profiles and our connections that we always wanted to impress. Let them wait till autumn! We took a vacation off ourselves.
Cool, you might be right for the moment being. The problem is that you’ll still come back in business sometime…
Your personal statement is basically who you are so it’s not rocket science to imagine that your personal brand should not be far from your reality as a human being: your way of behaving, your temperament, your personality, your education and degrees, your body language, your field(s)of competence, your hierarchical position and even the significant other of yours, they all speak on your behalf when you expect the least. And they speak especially when the defending walls of your personality are down, when you’re relaxed and having fun. Your true nature might catch you off guard at any moment. How to be prepared for such unprepared situations?
Here are a few little summer tips for those who want to let go and still be in control of their reputation. All these tips refer not to what you have to do, but rather to what you have to refrain from doing. If you can, of course:
- Resist the temptation to fill daily your FB profile with shots of yourself no matter how proud you are of your rightly tanned complexion. You might need a more professional look when you are back and people have this strange habit to remember what’s fresher in their minds.
- Resist the temptation to bad mouth your employer over a drink or two. Your job and the company you work for define you after all and unless you are actively and overtly searching to change it, you should not hit the fan with anything …inappropriate.
- Resist the temptation to fill your social media walls with transitory moods or small happenings, unless they are really noteworthy or charmingly framed. Chitchat of any kind fragments representations about a person and it does not fuel coherence. Use the time off to recharge rather than discharge small emissions on everything.
- Resist the temptation to remain connected to the job. I personally might have a bias on that but whenever I see people that intervene in conversation threads from vacation I believe that they are bored with their significant other or not having fun at all. Except for exceptions, of course. There is difference between the vacations of a self-employed or entrepreneur and that of an employee, I know, but still. Etymologically, “vacation” means “empty, free or at leisure”. Why ruining such a blessing?
- Resist the temptation to counterbalance in excess: I worked a lot, now I let go insanely or I sleep all day; I refrained from doing this or that, now I indulge; I had enough of this, now I totally forget. Our extremes create unreliability; they instill insecurity in others and de-balance us. Vacations are for refreshment not for total reboot. Unless sabbatical, of course.
What has reputation and personal branding to do with all these? Everything, if we admit that what we leave behind us is an authentic trace of ourselves in our journey through this world no matter where we are. Personal reputation is about knowing well who you are and behaving according to conscious goals in life, not about projecting temporary images here and there. Vacations are for replenishment of self not for losing of self. Vacations are not exceptions but an integrated part of our same long lasting personal reputations.
I do personal branding for a living. I “brand” people and their businesses. I work for business and not for showbiz, as I believe the need for branding is a vital – and a more honest need after all – in the entrepreneurial world where the capacity of branding to articulate identities can be effectively put to work.
People who fall under these 4 categories usually contact me:
- corporate people tired of being employed with a more or less clear idea of what they would like to do next, in search for career advice and a sort of fulcrum;
- young entrepreneurs with a freelancer profile and an already established little business in search for a clearer positioning and a better defined role of themselves in their field;
- business professionals in lifestyle entrepreneurships – from coaches, psychologists and actors to medical doctors and technology geeks;
- CEOs of their own established entrepreneurial business with a clear structure in business but maybe with a poor or inexistent public profile as well as CEOs that need to reconnect the entire organization to a core ideology and vertebrate employer branding processes and …themselves along the way.
Irrespective of how different they are in life and professional stages, there is something that links all the up-mentioned profiles: what springs to their minds when they approach the need for branding is an irrepressible penchant towards being present, visible around the “me”, the “self”, the “ego” that others “need” to see, to perceive to monetize in a way or another. Nothing catastrophically wrong so far. The issue starts when we only remain to the “me” stage.
What is the “me” stage?
It is true that personal branding is about promoting a person, putting a human identity in some sort of social light as it is about ultimately taking sane pride in what you are and what you do. What is key instead is that stakeholders can effectively see value in that light. What is put forth, what is playing under the spotlight? Personal branding cannot substantiate anything unless… substance is on stage and a “supportive” person behind a valuable and relevant promise. Did I say “supportive”, “in the backstage”, in the “support staff” of their valuable promise in business or else? Oops! So it is not about being ubiquitous as a person? It is not about “me”?
There is a quite incipient – I dare to say – talking these days about humility in business. What seems an almost inappropriate word for the business world, might have gained the biggest of relevance lately. Humility and personal branding are not irreconcilable at all in business, in the same way that self centered posturing and a self absorbed personality might not make a valuable personal brand.
Briefly put, personal branding is not a gift made to the ego and certainly not a selfie. In the process of personal branding managers, entrepreneurs and freelancers are nothing but the humble servants of their ideas, deeds, projects, businesses, own contribution to the world ultimately. They are not the “servants of self”, they speak in the name of their projects and their major role is that of an endorser.
In personal branding I work for ideas and beautiful projects seen through the eyes and personality of their beholders but crafted and refined through the objective lenses of the outside consultant. A person-to-person job, it’s true, but what comes out it in the end must be about a long lasting new little-piece-of-value-that-someone-really-needs that is brought to the world.
Counter-intuitively introverts are better clients for personal branding than extroverts. That is mainly because profoundness and self-centeredness are key to the process, as I see it, at least. Personal branding does not equal personal promotion. “Pick me, see me” is not the way. When doing personal branding what proves to be the backbone of a professional identity is the sine qua non prerequisite for a long-term reputation.
Here are my reasons for why introverts, shy and even camera shy make better personal brands:
- Introverts are profound people, astute and observant They have the power to concentrate on everything they’ve got. They make a point of paying attention to nonverbal cues that might reveal hidden meanings, because they know words are only half of the story;
- Introverts are good at studying so they can become experts quicker in their field. Whatever they know, they tend to know well. They think deep before they speak and usually avoid chitchat;
- Introverts are self-sufficient, they are not dependent people. They feel free and empowered as long as they believe that what happens is pretty much in their control. They have a sense of balance that is innate and are not so prone to excesses;
- Introverts are committed to their goals. Introverts tend to be self driven and disciplined. They don’t need approval from external sources, so they direct their energy to the pursuit of an ambitious goal instead. This ambition often turns introverts into highly successful people;
- Introverts are thought provoking when you get them talking. They are inspiring people because what they have to say springs from their inner fountain.
Introverts have interesting things to say especially when these things passionate them. As they are not keen on shallow conversation you can engage vividly in a deep discussion and find intellectual satisfaction.
- Introverts are in touch with their feelings and empathetic.
Introverts are masters of their emotions. They reflect until they are able to understand the responsible triggers for their negative thoughts. This retrospection helps them dig deep enough to deal with self-defeating beliefs that limit their potential;
- Introverts are trustworthy people.
A reputation is built on public exposure, it’s true, but without a core of heavy meaning, it cannot be sustained. In a way, reputation is like a solidifying pearl around a tiny grain. And ultimately this grain of “interior-ism” is what distinguishes a self-standing and lasting human entity from an elusive social projection.
- How has the Romanians’ perception changed when it comes to personal branding & development in the last years? Are personal branding & development trending in Romania? Do you see a rise in the last years and why?
I believe Romania follows naturally a worldwide trend shaped significantly by the rise of social media, communities of peers and the change in working time structure.
Personal branding is much more than a fad. The need for it, in business at least, became an almost sine-qua-non prerequisite for success. And that is due to one main reason: personal reputation, now easier to track anytime, anywhere started to matter a lot. More and more professionals (executives or entrepreneurs) realize the need to articulate clearly their own discourse, to put forth their own professional offer consistently. I dare to say that the noisier the clutter of daily news about everything, the bigger the need for standing apart through branding. Branding enforces clarity, unites perspectives, and creates a distinguishable and potentially memorable footprint for the business and its leader. Branding is a powerful (self) management tool and the first solid brick for public exposure: because indeed, branding is not (only) about exposure but about creating the very core of what you have to say so as to represent you at your best, to be relevant to others and, if possible, to bear a certain degree of newsworthiness.
- Tell us more about your personal branding courses and what you do differently in your company in comparison with the competition? Why have you chosen that niche? What do you foresee for the future?
There are two things that define distinctively my work.
Firstly, I don’t do personal branding courses and that is the very essence of my competitive difference. What I do is personal branding consultancy. I do not teach people self-help, I do not deliver public speaking about how to enhance your brand in general and I do not sell tips& tricks. Personal branding is …personal, therefore it is a one-to-one endeavor, a 100% personalized approach. It’s a made-sur-measure tailoring, meaning time and know how dedicated individually to each person that seems to need my expertise. Actually the very name of my freelance company – Innerout – encapsulates the quintessence of my approach: personal branding starts from the inner capabilities of the person in order to be sustainable, further builds on authenticity and then shows itself outside, in its best of versions.
Secondly I do not work for celebs or showbiz, as it is usually the common expectation in the field. I believe celebs and public figures need no branding, but constant exposure. My “niche within the niche” is the rising world of entrepreneurship instead, be it for startups or established businesses, be it for freelancers or mature business owners. I work for people who proved to really need this service because of two main reasons:
- Entrepreneurial businesses are intimately linked to the reputation and destiny of their leader. The personal brand of the leader strengthens the business and constantly feeds its reputational capital. And vice versa. In corporate businesses this doesn’t happen.
- Entrepreneurs feel the need to start, to make, to build (it’s the rather instinctual side of this special breed) but they usually lack a map and the objective eye of an outsider. They can never judge fairly their own baby. I firmly believe in the saying that even the best of the shoemakers with always be short on …his own shoes. It calls for an outside look to put things in perspective and the finger upon what is relevant indeed.
Personal branding is about creating a professional identity first and foremost, and then putting it in its best verbal and graphic shape in order for its most relevant stakeholders to properly reach its messages.
To put it short I’d say that personal branding is an effort to articulate the human complexity in the fewest words possible – a complicated way to simplify things, as I like to put it. People need simplification and clarity, and branding does that. Unless a brand is clear it cannot communicate efficiently and effectively. Branding articulates the reality of the output, whatever this is. From there on business decisions are smoother and communication follows. Branding does that: it always serves as a strategic management tool and an engagement around a certain meaning. People live for meaning, are driven to work by meaning. Brands, including personal brands, need to instill meaning, otherwise nobody is hearing them.
- Can we consider that Romanians are starting to be more and more interested in their personal development and the meaning of life? How do you see that manifesting?
Personal branding and personal development are neighbors but not relatives. Branding is publicly related more to communication and exposure, while development is more of a personal roadmap to follow. It is also true that it happens for both to occur more or less in the same period of life: at midlife, at career crossroads, after downshifting, or when the employee status makes room to the need for more personal freedom.
Still, the common denominator of personal branding and personal development is the need for identity. Branding is about shaping identity and consolidating a reputation based on that identity and starts with a solid portion or self-awareness and self-knowledge. Branding must unleash self-development otherwise the whole process risks flimsiness. Branding itself is a discipline in which fields as communication, psychology, social behavior theories, coaching, advertising and good writing skills dovetail.
- At what revenue a year would you consider is the Romanian personal development marketing situation? (courses, events, books) What are the trends in this area?
No doubt it is a market in growth or at least steady as people are more and more aware of this need, but I couldn’t give any estimate. Only by observing the dimensions and the positioning of the shelf in bookstores dedicated to self-development literature, the focus becomes clear. New terms and meanings are coined to describe social realities that did not exist 5 to 10 years ago. It’s the times we live in that accelerated the need to take faster and maybe more radical decisions regarding the work-life balance; opportunities are everywhere doubled by the mirroring risks, entrepreneurship and freelancing lures more people and there is a lot of talking around it in the last ten years, etc. So with lots of open doors and market dynamics as never before, people put more pressure on their careers and ask more of them. Generations gaps are still visible and not necessarily erased by technology while lots of challenges ahead leave us with very few certainties.