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The Business of Personal Branding

Posted by Paul Roetzer on December 4, 2009

Everyone has a story. We are all defined by our actions, beliefs, experiences, perceptions and choices.

We each maintain a unique personal brand that is defined by the sum of people’s experiences with us and perceptions about us. However, we are our own gatekeepers, thus our brand varies from person-to-person based on how much of our story we choose to share.

The Impact of Social Media on Personal Brands

We live in an online world dominated by content and community. And whether we like it or not, social media has made personal branding a 24/7 experience for many of us.

The mass-market adoption of social networking has forever changed the way that our stories are told and shared. We publish pictures, articles, opinions and updates that each tells a small piece of our story: Us-And-Maddie

  • What’s important to us.
  • What we value.
  • Where we’re going.
  • What we’re doing.
  • Who we’re with.
  • What we buy.
  • What we think.
  • What we’re passionate about.

Though many of us may not realize, everything we do and say, both online and offline, is crafting our personal brands.

What’s Your Story?

So while taking the approach of not caring what other people think works for some personalities and career paths, most professionals will need to take a more thoughtful approach to their personal brand.

So what’s your story? What defines you? Would your definition of your personal brand closely match others’?

23 Personal Branding Questions

Here are some things to ask yourself and consider when assessing and developing your personal brand:

  1. What three adjectives would people use to describe you?
  2. What makes you unique?
  3. What are the top-five defining moments in your life?
  4. Who have been the five most influential people in your life?
  5. If you could go back and change decisions and actions, would you (i.e. do you live with regret)?
  6. If you could be anywhere, would you choose to be where you are?
  7. Do you know where you’re going?
  8. What life experiences have altered your views and actions?
  9. What do you fear most?
  10. What motivates and inspires you?
  11. Do you aspire to be great? How do you define greatness?
  12. Do you accept that success is a process, and not a privilege?
  13. Do you know how and when to lead?
  14. What are you passionate about?
  15. Do you believe in fate? Destiny?
  16. How do you balance your personal and professional lives?
  17. Do you view yourself as a brand?
  18. Do your friends and family have perceptions about you different than your professional peers?
  19. If you were to give your “last lecture,” what three things that you have learned in life would you share?
  20. Do you take risks and welcome change? 
  21. Do you see challenges in life as obstacles or opportunities?
  22. Are you stubborn and closed-minded? Or do you view each experience as a chance to grow and expand your knowledge?
  23. Do you take responsibility for your own success or failure?

Your answers to these questions help to define who you are. How much of your story you choose to share, and the manner in which you share it, plays a large role in defining your personal brand.

A Final Note

Just like every organization has a brand that is constantly valued and judged based on experiences and perceptions, we are all personal brands.

Please know that I am not suggesting people be fake and overly controlled in their online and offline actions.  I simply recommend that everyone take a conscious approach to understanding that how you act and what you choose to share defines who you are in the eyes of your family, friends, employers, peers, prospects, customers and business partners.

Your Thoughts

So what do you think about personal branding? Do you take a conscious, strategic approach to how you present yourself online and offline? Are you being true to yourself, and real with others?

 

Paul Roetzer is founder and president of PR 20/20, a Cleveland-based inbound marketing agency and PR firm. He can be found on Twitter @PaulRoetzer

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