The age of 'Personal Branding'
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You have just walked out of yet another investor meeting, the elevator pings and you enter in. As the door shuts, a plethora of thoughts flood your mind. Are they glancing strangely at me? Is my shirt alright? Do I have some stain on it? Do I look funny in this suit? I knew it I shouldn’t have worn this old blue “lucky” suit? I hope this time this shark will bite! Oh God no! Was I too loud like last time? Was I selling too hard? Having run your script a thousand times you still wonder what will work – have you conveyed the business plan effectively to nail this funding round?
At the same time, somewhere on the east coast of America, a senior executive is wondering why the goras don’t ‘get’ him? What is amiss about us performance-driven Indians posted in the western world? Why am I unable to crack that rapport with the global CEO? Is there something I could do to change the perception they have of me? How do I overcome my introvert behaviour to go beyond hello and make that elevator pitch on that fantastic idea?
Meanwhile, in one of the IT hubs of Maharashtra, another executive is trying to manoeuvre her way around stereotypes. It’s not a man’s world and I am also not a feminist, she thinks. “I believe that good work gets recognised and I do that with my entire team of developers. We attack our projects with all the fervour and achieve our deadlines with the same passion. Somehow I don’t know why my colleague gets all the recognition?”
A Broader View :
If you type ‘personal branding’ into Google today, you will be hit with a flood of results - from ‘what will get you noticed’ to ‘how you can build your brand overnight’, the internet seems to have all the answers to our current favourite buzzword. But quick fixes will only get you so far. Truly building your personal brand is an ongoing commitment to yourself and your growth. It is about establishing, projecting, and promoting who you are, what you stand for, and what you stand to offer in a manner that is effective and sets you apart.
Being cognizant of your perception to others is crucial, especially in today's highly visual, hyper-connected world. The rise of social media has heightened the emphasis on the individual in a way that the brand we build around ourselves has become our most powerful and profitable resource - one that we’d be foolish to oversee. However, you can only successfully project an image if you believe what you’re trying to sell.
Here are The Answers:
So even before you get to thinking about how you want others to perceive you, it is important to look inwards. It is important to introspect and reflect on the elements that have created your life so far and will do so in the future - things you may not pay conscious attention to but are crucial in defining who you are. What is your approach to life? How do you respond to your emotions? What are you like in your relationships? Do you prioritize your physical, mental and emotional health? How do you manage your goals? How do you deal with stress? Do you accurately represent yourself in all aspects - personal, professional and social? What kind of legacy do you want to leave behind?
Your answers to these questions define who you are as an individual. They help you hold up the mirror to things that may have until now, operated on autopilot, without much conscious input from you. They define what makes you unique and are part of the process of building self-awareness. Gaining such clarity makes you mindful of your actions, emotions, and patterns of behaviour, so you can become increasingly deliberate in creating your own narrative, as opposed to being simply reactionary in your approach to the events around you. As you continue on this path, you will begin to recognize and fulfil your physical and emotional needs and find that you have started to lead a life that feels a lot truer to who you are.
Honing the manner in which you present yourself can make you feel far more in control of how people perceive you, behave with you, and respond to you, and make you far more confident in your interactions with people and the events around you. In this six-part series, each article will address an essential element of building your personal brand and show you how to do so while celebrating your own unique self.
See you next fortnight!