This blog first appeared in Recessionwire
Most of us have heard so often that it’s important to have a personal brand that we’re sick of it. The overuse of the term is beginning to devalue it.
I’m not a box of cereal; I’m a human being, you might say.
That is true. And it is increasingly difficult to find a differentiator as the competition for jobs and consulting assignments is so fierce. Maybe it’s because we’re looking at ourselves as a business. We’re using dull and dry terms to describe ourselves: team player, proven track record, top producer. They don’t exactly leap out and grab someone by the throat.
The Pressure to Stand Out
But a recent review in The New York Times of two young pianists got me thinking that we should be looking at it in a different way. The Times music critic began: “Many young classical musicians feel pressure to stand out.” Well, who doesn’t? It’s not just pianists; everyone in this tough economic climate is looking to stand out.
But it was another sentence that really got my attention: “It is not enough to play an instrument – or sing or conduct – brilliantly. You have to search within yourself and define your artistic identity. Your performances should convey what you believe in, what excites you.”
I realized that same advice could be applied to business people or job seekers. It isn’t enough to be brilliant at what you do. What is it that makes you brilliant? Your performances – a presentation for a client, or a job interview – should reinforce your talents and core beliefs.
What’s missing in most personal brand statements is a sense of excitement. Throw away your pencil for a minute and think about what really excites you about what you do (or did). Did you accomplish something that still makes your heart sing? Tell your story to your spouse or a buddy. Bring passion to the telling. Then ask for their response. What words did you use? What about the story got them excited?
That’s your personal brand.