I hesitate to even use the words “personal brand” because this is a much maligned phrase that may mean everything or it may mean nothing. The concept of a brand has its origins in product marketing. Marketers have devised and mastered the art of establishing a company’s brand, are able to measure its impact, and calculate its worth. Many of these expert marketing people show up on job seeker Twitter chats or other online forums to show off their knowledge and teach about personal branding… only it usually doesn’t transfer well to people branding. Most sophisticated marketing programs can measure both the quantifiable and non-quantifiable aspects of a brand, but to try to measure people beyond how tall they are is only a guess. This is not about Twitter followers, Facebook friends, or LinkedIn contacts. That may help to measure some things, but those numbers are not absolute. It is not about blog views, comments or RT’s even though those numbers may also be useful. It is about quality of the network and probably not anything that is quantifiable.
Personal influence is an amorphous blob that defies measurement. Even so, there are some very good ways to get a handle on personal clout.
- Self Assessment – Without having an absolute scale of measurement, Google yourself and see if you are recognizable at all. You could be non-existent… quick, go look in a mirror. If there are pages and pages of hits, that fact gives some hint that you are closer to being unique.
- Relativity Assessment – Pick a leader, mentor or other person that you picture as being in the same realm of knowledge as yourself. If your Google hits are comparable, you know that your influence is comparable.
- Numerical Assessments – There are numerous free or low cost analytical tools that can measure influence. There is no definition of how much is good, but it is possible to use Google Analytics, Sprout, Hootsuite or dozens of other tools to give a numerical or graphical depiction of how far ideas have been communicated.
- Goal Assessment – It’s personal. Nobody can tell you what numbers you should see in your assessments, so decide what is important. Plan changes and measure the impact of those changes on visibility, relativity and numerical assessments. Lather, rinse and repeat.
Everybody has a brand whether they consciously create it or not. Without going into a boring monolog that is mainly marketspeak, several things will determine if you have a good brand. When involved in moving a career forward or looking for a new job, this can be a critical factor in success. A polished brand will probably not make it happen, but if it is worth doing it is worth measuring. On the more personal side, the outcome is more about how you feel about yourself than how others see you. Take care of being who you intend to be, avoid branding mistakes, and the external perspective should happen seamlessly. In the end, what makes you happy?
- Follow Passions – This is the old axiom “anything worth doing is worth doing right” at a new and higher level. For most, this might be some charitable work not related to a career, but for many it is using work-related experiences to spread the word in a unique direction.
- Stay Current – As a card carrying member of the boomer generation, I am annoyed by both the boomers who don’t get it (or don’t want to) as well as some of the later generationers who are dismissive of all that has gone before. Too much finger pointing and complaining! Accepting the status quo as the norm leads to nowhere.
- Keep Improving – We are trained that any lack of knowledge, imperfections or weaknesses are to be hidden from view and once we set out on a course of action we can never go back. My kids learned differently from the great philosopher, Big Bird who sang, “Everyone makes mistakes.” How quickly we forget. Pick your own mentors… one will not always be appointed for you.
- Show Gratitude – Nobody does it alone. We all have help and should show appreciation for physical, intellectual and spiritual gifts. Be thankful for the people in your life who contributed to successes and overlooked failures. Pay back, pay forward, and remember that feedback is a gift.
There is a line I remember from a poem I have forgotten: “I am a part of all that I have met.” (Alfred Lord Tennyson). We are not who we used to be because of others who are touching us daily… and most don’t even know it. We are also not who we will be tomorrow because of other influencers who will enter our lives. We are all a part of someone else’s brand.
Image credit: peshkova / 123RF Stock Photo (modified)