Photograph: Sharon Billingham - Personal style and brand coach, authorHave you ever thought what people say about you when you're not in the room? That's your personal brand.
A potent combination of facts ' like what you do for a living ' coupled with intangible impressions you've left behind in the way you shook hands, told a joke or promised to 'follow up with a coffee'.
Before you dismiss personal branding as superficial or phony, take a moment to think back to high school. Can you name the sports jock, the nerd and the popular girl in your year? That's the power of a brand and we've each got one whether we like it or not.
Personal branding has been around for years and it's a hot topic now because the Internet has shrunk the world, increased choice and intensified competition. To have access to opportunities and to command a premium, you need cut-through. You need a point of difference. You need a personal brand.
Personal branding is a process where you differentiate yourself and leverage this through a unique, consistent message across multiple platforms to achieve a specific goal.*
We express our personal brand through our clothes, grooming, our body language and our speech. We communicate our brand, consciously or unconsciously, through all aspects of our behavior. And the devil's in the details.
When you're a walking billboard for Brand You, people have expectations of how you behave. Do you fit the mold of what they expect of an X? Or more importantly do you live up to the promises that you make as an X? Trust is built on how consistently you behave within your brand.
A sustainable personal brand is not created or manufactured. It's built on an honest self-assessment of yourself - your strengths, personality, values and passions. It's much easier to stay consistent in your behavior and message when it's founded on who you really are. The benefit of being clear about what you stand for is that it exudes clarity and conviction, two elements that attract like-minded colleagues, clients and friends.
If you're applying for a new job or launching a new business, a good place to start defining your personal brand is to make a list of your strengths and how they help you deliver a valued service to your desired client. Think about the compliments you've received. Think about the impression that you've left with people in the past.
It's also important to get feedback from people you trust that these attributes are being clearly communicated through the ways you interact with people face-to-face and online.
At the end of the day, your personal brand's effectiveness is determined by others. If they can talk about you in the way you meant them to when you're not in the room, that's a sure sign that your personal brand is clear and memorable.- Sharon Billingham is a personal style and brand coach who teaches professional women how to achieve career and personal success by projecting their authentic brand.
To register for her Personal Brand and Styling Workshop on May 4 2014 , please go to www.authenticyou.eventbrite.com.au