I know, I know, just hearing the word personal brand goes against our nature of being invisible! There is this conflict. A conflict that we don’t want to be the centre of attention but at the same time we don’t want to be forgotten or ignored. As professional introverts we live to build credibility based on providing value and demonstrating our expertise, whilst still caring; a certain prestige if you will. So then it makes sense to spend time to get this message, this brand of yours developed, documented, ingrained into your mindset and subsequently of others. Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos gives a perfect statement of what branding is, “Your brand is what people say about you when you’re not in the room”. So not only do we need those thoughts and views to be positive, we need that first trigger to someone to actually remember you. Marketing expert CEO Qasim Majid gave me a wonderful statement to summarise how to think about it, “Branding is an investment over a passage of time”. He then went on to say to think about the famous brands, Nike, Coke, etc. You immediately think of them, why? As he very eloquently said, they all “rent space in your mind”. Here are some ways we can do exactly that.
Create your Persona
This must sound a little odd. What? You want me to create a fake version of me? However it’s not as insidious as it implies. Nor implying that you should be a fake extrovert. Our fear is others knowing exactly what we are really like. Nobody professionally needs to know that we prefer to be alone or get mentally drained at the very thought of being in a room full of people that we actually have to talk to. Knowing that ourselves is enough. So instead, we already put up a public persona without even realising it. Figure out what actually calls that persona up, for me its my double espresso shot in the morning and a look in the mirror. Albeit the look in the mirror is to ensure my hair is okay, but I digress. Then mentally “observe” yourself and document it for a few days. Is there room to enhance it? By enhancement, this implies trying to develop and grow that persona to what you want it to be relative to your environment, goals and drive. For example, if I’m leading a workshop, I need to be confident, energetic whilst giving off a relaxed vibe to ensure I succeed. When i’m working with stakeholders on a project, I need my organised, assertive persona. Even though non professional Ali finds it all mentally draining and uncomfortable with confrontations. Don’t for one second think this is deceptive or not authentic, this is simply adaptation.
This is a place where we can really thrive and is a great enabler to build your brand and persona. For example I wrote my own blog containing professional and non professional articles which I published on various social media avenues. It is a great way to not only show your expertise but also my persona for the softer touches, and talking points. Even apparently jovial ones. “Hey Ali, where’s your coffee?”, a colleague jokingly asked me during a conference. He was just one of many colleagues and friends who have commented to me about my love of coffee. On my blog and Instagram you will find that I’m always showing a coffee cup, coffee shop, coffee shot on my skinny legs or fat face, not to mention my articles on various coffee houses visited. For many it seemed I had developed this personal brand of me and coffee, along with my Friday coffee selfie triggering the end of the week. I ended up creating a persona that triggers an instant connection between myself and coffee. Using a genuine passion and love of coffee to associate myself with it, intrinsically linked. Calling back to the premise of branding, I managed to rent a little space in peoples mind. Whenever a person see’s coffee, they will think of me. Additionally, within the workplace there is a usually an internal social media site, where you can post case studies, recent milestones achieved, promotions etc. Explore and utilise it. Whatever the specific item is, it is unique to you, and the reason it is so powerful is that you can control it. You can take your time with it and you can perfect it to how you want it be. This is not a one hit wonder, this takes time, drop by drop, but with each drop you build credibility, connections and triggers to deepen relationships.
Focusing on deepening your relationships enables selective brand development. We love to forge deep bonds one on one. Focus on the relationships that can enhance your brand. Mentors for example come in many forms, be it the master of the craft, champions, partner in crime etc. Each can really help, especially if there’s an extrovert amongst them. They will not only advise on opportunities but also champion you and your skills. Use that bond you have to get them for example, write that testimonial, put you forward for that opportunity you didn’t even know existed or guide you to the right person.
Give Without Intention
The benefits you can reap from anything can come leaps and bound by following a simple premise. Give without intention. Although this whole thing here is about your own brand, it’s not about you. It’s about what you can do for others. As introverts we can handle this is in the most perfect way, as we naturally give to others with humility. Share your knowledge, discuss and help with their ideas, acknowledge and promote others. Never stop doing this. Generosity and caring does not go unnoticed, it’s an attribute most leaders aspire to have, and we’ve got it.
With any kind of branding, driving consistency garners trust and loyalty. Your personal brand should then be no different. The core message of you should always be the same whatever channel you are utilising. That core message can be and should be simplified by one question to ask yourself; “What is it that you can or currently consistently deliver that makes and keeps others value you?” Take your time to really dive into this question. It may be that you see no real pattern or trends. Which is fine as this gives you a starting point. Once you have defined your core values, your toolbox of how you are delivering those values, you have got to keep doing it. If you commit to weekly calls, make sure you hold them every week. If you commit to daily updates, then don’t miss them. This is a daily, yes that’s right, daily activity. Everyday when you look at what your plan is for the day, always ask the question to yourself what you are doing to keep upholding not only your core values but also the company’s value. Keeping that constant focus your personal brand will not only shine but be remembered.
Believe me I get that is not easy for us. I know, as I always preferred to stay away and limit interactions. I get it. Yet, using the above tactics, calling upon your inner energy and inserting them into your game plan will reduce the ongoing conflict within us. Peace and Love.