Your brand is a fundamental part of work and life. It has to do with identity, priorities, focus and self-promotion. That last thing, promoting yourself, is something that people — especially women – shy away from. STOP. STOP IT RIGHT NOW.
*The most important things about your personal brand is…to have a brand. In the words of Cindy Gallop, what is your default throwaway descriptor? If someone needs to describe you to a stranger in a few words, what would they say? Quiet, sweet, likes cats? Sharp, opinionated marketer? Meticulous, vibrant and a whiz with numbers? Force of nature? Scary, flatulent, don’t lend her money? Whatever it is, what should it be? What would you like it to be? How can you shape that? Every business, everyone, needs a clear – clearly understood, clearly communicated — brand.
Try the 20/10/4 exercise. Come up with 20 words that describe your brand. Once you have that list of 20 words that convey your brand, hone that list to 10. Edit out half the words that aren’t absolutely essential to your brand’s essence. NOW, the hard part. Cut that list of 10 down to 4. These 4 words are the foundation of your brand’s DNA. Keep them top of mind. They’ll help you articulate your brand message and focus your brand on its priorities. (You should do this exercise at least once a year, to keep you focused on what you’re about, what your values and priorities are, and what you should be doing with your valuable time.)
AND… this makes a wonderful filter. (For example, Cindy Gallop’s is, “I like to blow shit up. I am the Michael Bay of advertising.”). Your brand/descriptor will not only attract the people you want, it can repel the ones you don’t. Don’t be afraid of turning people away – you only want your tribe. They will appreciate you, get you, celebrate you, and make for better collaborators, partners and customers. You can’t please all the people all the time etc. etc. and don’t try. My Dixie Laite business card says “Affable Bullshit Slayer.” If that offends or bothers anyone (hey, I did say affable) it’s just as well they stay clear of me. They won’t like me and I certainly won’t like them.
*Buy your name’s domain name. If nothing else, make it link and shunt people to those things you want them to see. Shape how people see you when they Google you (and they willGoogle you, you know). To make it rise up in your Google search, link good comments using your personal URL. Do this with your brand. Mine is dametown.com. I often comment on boards having to do with classic movies and women and feminism, and I try to remember to attach dametown.com to my remarks.
*Have remarks. Have a point of view. Have opinions. Don’t be afraid. Stand for something.
Have a perspective others can depend upon to associate with you – your personal brand. This is how you’ll share your expertise, your passions, your perspective and your authenticity. Sharing you, the real you (unless you are planning some sort domestic terrorism) is a winning strategy for your brand and your soul. (And if you areplanning some sort domestic terrorism, STOP IT. STOP IT RIGHT NOW.)
*Which brings us to social media. Yes, it’s about building a community around you, being part of a community, maybe getting followers. But it’s also about saying what you think (really think) and having a point of view. Trust me, there are an awful lot of men who are absolutely certain the world is dying to know what they think. (Pssst, it isn’t.) We women need to step up and make sure our voices and perspectives are heard and become part of the social and cultural narrative. Besides, putting ideas out there will help people (including customers, clients, the media) see you as an expert in that area. (Or at least as a vibrant pundit.) There’s an old saying: “Do interesting things and interesting things will come to you.” By the same token, if you sayinteresting things, put interesting things out there, then interesting things – and people – will come to you. (You might even try using theopedproject.orgto get an op-ed published.)
*Business cards– make them stand out. Make them start a conversation. People exchange and receive lots of business cards at conferences, make yours (and you) memorable. Mine let people know I’m an “Affable Bullshit Slayer” and that often leads to a longer convo.
*Should you have a tagline? That’s totally up to you. If you have a good one, one that conveys what you’re about, what you do, or your unique point of view, your USP (learn about USPs here) then great.
*Speaking up– literally. Of course, a great way to get your brand out there is to find some speaking engagements. Decide what the best places are for you to speak, and then work at getting yourself an opportunity to speak there. Think of which stages would most resonate with your brand, message, content or expertise, and then assertively try to get yourself booked. (You might even find a TEDX near you and apply to give a TEDX talk.)
*Value yourself. I mean, you should value yourself because, well, because. Uniquely you, one-of-a-kind, child of the universe and all that. But also remember that people value you as much as the value you put on yourself. In other words, do you sell yourself short? STOP IT. STOP IT RIGHT NOW.
It’s been suggested the asking price for you (your salary, your services, etc.) should be the highest amount you can say out loud without laughing. That’s often hard. But what you can do, even though it seems hard, is make sure you are paid upfront. Don’t lift a finger until their check clears. If they resist, move on, You’re worth it.
In addition to getting paid upfront, I’d also like to add a couple of wise, time-tested truisms that will add immeasurably to your life. They are as follows:
1) Don’t put up with shit.
2) Don’t put up with assholes.
3) Don’t let anyone fuck with you.
4) Fight for your rights and what’s yours.
5) Don’t give a damn about what anybody thinks.
(Are you putting up with assholes? Are you caring a lot about what people think? STOP IT. STOP IT RIGHT NOW.)
*Last but maybe most important of all, live your values. (After all, if you live according to your values you really don’t need to worry about what other people think because you’ll know you’re doing what’s right as far as you’re concerned.) Living your values means identifying and committing to your priorities, passions and ethical standards that mean something to you.
This means embracing who you are and what you stand for, what you care about. It means standing up for what you believe in, and discarding those things you don’t. This can also mean cutting yourself off from toxic people, not tolerating prejudices, bigotry, or corruption. Leave situations where your values are under fire or have to be sublimated. Remember that filter we talked about above? Find your tribe, people or situations that value who you are and what you bring to the table, and your work life and LIFE life will attract joy, growth and success. “Brand You” has a contribution to make in the world; go out and make it!