As we start a new year, many of us are turning to our goals, from losing weight to reconnecting with long-lost friends. I enjoy motivational goals but appreciate an action plan to make them come to life. If building up your reputation and enhancing your personal brand are on your to-do list for 2015, this monthly strategy will help you stay focused:
January - March
With motivation for the new year heightened, create your vision. In personal branding, we call this defining your legacy or desired brand. How do you want to be perceived by others? Starting now, consider how you’d like to be remembered when you leave a room. Would you like others to perceive you as loving, helpful and gracious? Is your desired reputation to be a thought leader who advances awareness of causes you are passionate about? Do you want to be remembered as someone who made a positive impact on the people you led?
Your desired brand is the cornerstone for all reputation strategies. When your goal is to be seen as inclusive, you will choose relationships and activities which support teamwork and mutual benefit because that’s what someone who is “inclusive” would do.
As you build your personal brand, you will attract attention, and your target audience will evaluate whether they can trust you and assign you credibility. The only way to build credibility is to articulate your values and then walk the talk. Action consistent with your values is critical to establishing credibility for a desired personal brand.
April - June
Now you’re ready to begin crafting the important pieces. First, your narrative is formed using your desired reputation as a foundation. How will you communicate your value to others? Think about introducing yourself by using this formula:
1. Tell them what you do. What is your line of work or area of expertise?
2. Tell them what makes you stand out. Are you passionate about a specific area of your industry? Do you have unique expertise in an area?
3. What example could you use to illustrate who you are and what you offer? Be sure to include keywords and descriptors that highlight your reputation goals.
Spring is a great time to consider your network and how effective you are at identifying key contacts that you currently know or should know. Consider your in-person contacts and assess whether they are providing you with the insight, tools and feedback needed to build your reputation and drive your career.
Your online (social) network deserves careful attention. Be sure what you post, comment on and share online is consistent with your desired brand. Ensure your images, profile content and contacts also support your positioning and reputation and show your viability in the career direction your are building.
July - September.
Summer seems the inevitable time to focus on self. Why not consider how your image and body language are supporting your desired reputation? Take time these months to get care for yourself and your health; exercise, proper nutrition, sleep, and good hygiene reflect positively in how we display our sense of self around others in social and professional environments.
October - December.
As you gear up for holiday gatherings, the focus should again be on your narrative and network. You will have plenty of opportunities to meet new contacts and socialize with current clients, partners and colleagues. Ensure you have created succinct and compelling ways to describe who you are, what you offer and what you’re looking for. Your narrative is not a speech or script but highlights your value in ways that make you relevant.
Networking at social events is different from business networking. We tend to be more casual and relaxed. Remember that everything you post online or communicate in person can be shared with your competitors, clients and prospective clients. Always be mindful of the impression you are making and the reputation you are building!
The end of the year is also an ideal time for gratitude. Gratitude for communities, individuals, faith, health, friends, family…. while we focus on gratitude from Thanksgiving through the New Year, consider weaving threads of gratitude into the fabric of your personal brand throughout the year!