Becoming A Reputable Asset
Do you know that we are all building our personal brands by the things we say and do every time? Whether you know it or not, people are forming perceptions about you based on what they observe. These perceptions influence the kind of opportunities that come your way, especially in your career whether as an employee or a business owner.
In simple terms, your brand is the unique combination of skills and experiences that make you who you are – it is how you present yourself to the world. So, building your brand entails taking deliberate actions to create the right impressions about yourself. It is even more interesting now with the advent of social sites. A 2018 CareerBuilder survey revealed that 70% of employers use social media to screen candidates during the hiring process, and 43% of employers also use social media to check on current employees.
If you are still wondering how much effect your actions have on how people perceive you, let me remind you of a story that went viral in 2013. Justine Sacco, the head of corporate communications for a New York-based Internet empire – InterActive Corp (IAC) was on a trip to South Africa to visit her family for the holidays. Prior to that December 20 trip from Heathrow airport, Justine had been tweeting sarcastic jokes about some discomforting travel experiences. Amongst many tweets, there was one about a fellow passenger on the flight from John F. Kennedy International Airport, which said “Weird German dude, you’re in First Class. It’s 2014, get some deodorant. — Inner monologue as I inhale BO (body odour). Thank God for pharmaceuticals.” Then, during her layover at Heathrow, she tweets again “Chilly — cucumber sandwiches — bad teeth. Back in London!” And on this very day of the final leg of her trip to Cape Town, she tweets: “Going to Africa. Hope I don’t get AIDS. Just kidding. I’m white!” She must have chuckled to herself as she pressed send on this last one. She didn’t know that one tweet will soon change her world as she knew it – after all she has only 170 twitter followers.
Unfortunately, while she was asleep during the 11-hour flight – completely cut off from the virtual and physical world on the ground, she became an internet phenomenon. By the time the plane landed in Cape Town while taxiing on the runway, she turned on her phone. Right away, she got a text from someone she hadn’t spoken to since high school saying “I’m so sorry to see what’s happening.” Sacco looked at it, baffled. Then she saw another message and boom her phone exploded with more texts and alerts. She was already the No. 1 worldwide trend on Twitter with the hashtag #HasJustineLandedYet. Her insensitive remark was retweeted over 2,000 times and tens of thousands of angry tweets had been sent in response to her joke. Sacco was in deep trouble. She deleted her tweet and in fact her twitter handle but it was too late. That Saturday, her employers – IAC, owners of internet ventures such as Ask.com, Dictionary.com and Match.com published a public disclaimer for what they called her “hateful statements” and dismissed her with immediate effect.
This story reminds us of how a single unguarded action can change the perception of people. Sacco’s action gave her a worldwide reputation as a racist and insensitive bigot. It also cost her job and possibly future opportunities. Do you see now how your actions are creating your brand and determining the chances that come your way?
Think about it; what kind of brand are you building? You need to evaluate your reputation whether it is good or bad, likeable or otherwise. Building a brand doesn’t just happen overnight so it is important to do something to get better regardless of where you are and be consistent. The success of your personal brand lies in the little things you do consistently but you have to start now from where you are. Here are 3 things you need to be mindful of as you build your brand.
- Build Competence
Think of a brand you love; ask yourself, “why do I love this brand?” I bet it’s majorly because of what you think the brand can do for you. Whether it’s a product or service-delivery brand, you have a perception of the brand’s competence to satisfy a particular need. This is how people will perceive your brand too which is why it should be tied to what you can do, and very well too. Ensure you continually improve your competence. You might need to expand your knowledge base on relevant subject matters in your field or acquire a new skill. Building a solid personal brand begins with improving yourself.
- Package Yourself
We are usually advised to dress the way we want to be addressed. This statement is true about many other things besides dressing. The question to ask is; “How do I present myself and my work?” “Do I portray excellence and communicate effectively?” A Survey reported in 2018 that 7 in 10 people agree that packaging influences their purchasing decisions. Remember you are selling yourself and people are willing to buy-in to you based on how you present yourself to them. So, package yourself well.
- Know your Audience
Understanding your audience and creating value to meet their specific needs is a very effective way to build your brand. Imagine a basketball legend like Michael Jordan trying to sell his skills to a football coach like Pep Guardiola. He would be selling to the wrong audience who will not fully appreciate his brand and can’t give him the opportunities he needs. An important part of building a brand is selling to the right audience who will give you the right platforms to further strengthen the brand.
I’ll close with these words from Warren Buffett; “It takes 20 years to build a reputation and five minutes to ruin it. If you think about that, you’ll do things differently.”
Remember, You Have Only One Life to Live. MAKE IT COUNT!