Recently I had the distinct pleasure of chatting with four-time TEDX world-class speaker Bobby Umar. Bobby writes for the Huffington Post, and considered a thought leader in personal branding, networking and really connecting with others.
Our conversation was wide-ranging and, as you can imagine, amazing. We covered more material than I could possibly cover here - may I recommend checking out the podcast?
"Note - Don't forget to grab this free PDF at the end of the post >>>>
I've attempted to distill some of the most important things I learned about personal branding.
Personal branding is really self-awareness. The more you understand about your motivations, strengths, weaknesses and values, the more focused you can be with your personal branding.
Here are a few ideas from my conversation with Bobby Umar. (Listen to Full Interview here)
1. Have a 'WHY' statement and review it every morning.
No matter his or her age, everyone gets lost from time to time, whether professionally, personally, socially or spiritually. The important thing is to understand that it’s okay to feel lost sometimes, but it’s NOT okay to do nothing about it.
You need a why statement, a personal mission statement that says why you do what you do, and it needs to be ingrained deeply in your mind, your heart and your soul, not just written on a piece of paper or posted on a website.
Such a statement keeps you focused on your purpose, on the pain that people feel and the problems you're trying to solve. When you do feel slightly lost, your why statement acts like a lighthouse, bringing you back to your real purpose.
2. A clear personal brand and a strong network is essential for successful job hunting.
When Bobby left engineering he decided to do an MBA in order to switch careers to marketing, as well as film and television. He'd had a background in musical theatre, and as such had a large network from the theatre community. When he attempted to get jobs in the television and film industries however, he discovered that resumes, no matter how impressive, are not as useful as a solid network of industry contacts.
He hadn't considered going to television and film events to network, and only relied on his own theatre contacts - which proved to be of little use.
A personal brand helps you focus your efforts when looking for work. If, like Bobby, you have a mixed background, (his included engineering marketing and performing arts) it's vital to build a cohesive brand, an identity that you can show to employers, clients and partners.
3. Understand the value you bring.
One of the biggest benefits of having a strong personal brand is that it gives you tremendous clarity about the value you bring. If you know exactly what you can bring to the table, you can communicate this clearly to your employer/client/partner. When someone asks, "Can you help me?" you can say with confidence, "Yes I can help you, I can do fantastic work." This not only builds trust, but also allows you to price yourself competitively and fairly.
4. Network strategically.
Once you have a solid idea of your personal brand, you are far better able to focus your networking efforts in the most effective way. Doing so helps create relevant opportunities that are better targeted to your unique skills and abilities.
5. Lead with your strengths, while being honest about your weaknesses.
Michael Jordan was a superstar basketball player who decided he'd like to try baseball. Very quickly he realized that his strength lay in basketball, and so he returned, eventually helping his team win three more championships.
While Jordan could have stayed with baseball, he recognized and respected the fact that it wasn't his strongest game. There's no shame in acknowledging the areas in which you're weak.
The secret is to focus on your strongest areas and get help in the areas where you are weakest.
6. Networking should always be about giving.
When you are networking with people, always think in terms of the value you are providing for them.
How can you help them? What can you teach them?
A giving mindset will put you in a far more positive place when making the connections that could change your career or even your life.
7. Invest in people's stories.
Even as you develop your own personal brand and the stories lie within, remember to invest in other people's stories. Ask them about the best experiences of their lives, their successes, hopes and dreams. Invest in and share these stories. Personal stories reveal a lot about people's values and what they are passionate about. Very quickly you'll begin to see ways in which you can help others in areas they truly care about.
8. Always follow up. Always.
Failing to follow up on a networking contact renders the entire process useless. We have busy lives and often those who pass into our field of awareness will vanish into obscurity if we don't stay in contact. Following up with a networking contact is also just good manners. Bobby shared a story that I think illustrates the importance of following up. In his own words:
9. Everyone has value, and anyone can be a mentor.
Young people often fail to see what value they can bring, believing that their lack of experience is somehow a hindrance. The value of the young comes from their energy, their drive to learn and their fresh ideas. This value can even translate into mentorship.
We often think of mentors as people who have years of experience and long, successful careers. The truth is, anyone can be a mentor.
A recent graduate can be a mentor to someone just starting school.
A small business owner can be a mentor to someone just beginning the entrepreneurial path.
A young person can be a mentor to an older person in social media
It comes down to understanding your own abilities and strengths and using them to help others, in any way you can.
Click on the image below to get "The 9 secrets to discovering your personal brand"
Self-awareness really is the starting point for any personal branding efforts. Identifying and harnessing your strengths, knowing your 'why' and living it every day, understanding your value and building a solid network are just a few of the tools of a truly effective leader.
Now, it's your turn.
Do you agree with these lessons? What have you tried in terms of defining your own personal brand?
Let me know in the comment section below!!
PS. Don't forget to grab a the free discover your personal brand checklist >>>>>