Rob’s Thoughts… On Personal Branding
Rob was recently interviewed by author Robin Landa, branding and creativity strategist, for his thoughts on the topic of personal branding. He names curiosity as one of his four tenets of creating your own brand, saying, “People flock to those who can discern meaning from information”. Read on for the full interview.
Q: If you were writing the brand bible for personal branding, what four points would you stress?
Be Benefit Focused
Personal branding - i.e. crafting yourself - is much like crafting an organization or shaping a product. Go beyond your background and expertise (your “product features”) and recast your experience into how it helped solve problems, build consensus, drive change, create value (the benefits you create through your experience). Then focus on how these benefits affected those you worked with. Pride yourself not on your accomplishments but on how they drove the success of others on your team and those that you mentor.
You can’t be an expert at everything but you can focus on a few areas and remain ever curious about everything else. People flock to those who can discern meaning from information. A curious person has many perspectives from which to draw that meaning. Read, write, contribute, analyze, share, grow.
We live at a pace where change happens exponentially faster every day. What worked yesterday is often no longer effective today. Keep pace. Stay informed. Challenge convention. Have a process and protocol but be flexible. Learn from those who adapt fastest. Embrace change.
Lastly and importantly, Be Real - One of the best pieces of advice on personal branding I’ve gotten came from Phil Duncan, VP Design of Procter & Gamble when he said, “Be who you are, not who you think we want you to be”. Great brands, like great people and great organizations, need to be a little polarizing. Being right for a very specific purpose means you cant be right for every purpose. Find your unique core, work from your strengths, be honest and you will live your brand.
Q: How can one best differentiate oneself from the competition?
Have a personal mission statement and a point of view. Take folks on a journey of where you started from, the mistakes you have made and what you learned from both these mistakes and your successes. Ask questions and listen hard. People will often tell you exactly what they want. Don’t be afraid to be provocative. Poke holes in convention. Find out what people are really committed to.
Q: What advice can you offer about writing one’s elevator pitch?
Like every effective piece of communication, your pitch needs to be a story. Build yours in chapters. Have a 10 second intro, a 10-15 second middle and a 5-10 second conclusion. Stop there and ask if people would like to hear more. If you are a good storyteller chances are that you will have engaged them and they will want to stay engaged after the elevator ride.
Q: What is your advice on using social media to promote oneself?
Social media is just another way to tell your story, but here your story should be crafted in a way that allows the recipients to access it in their own way, determining how deep they want to go. To me, tweets can be a little ADD, a bit flippant. Short and frequent blogs may work more effectively. Networking platforms like Linked In, Experts.com and others are more a springboard to connect person to person. Social media is a way to lure people in and encourage more engagement.