When interviewing for a job or discussing a business opportunity, a common question raised is, “What do you bring to this opportunity?” If you’d answer “dedicated service” or “additional market saturation”, take a seat at the back of the candidate pool who answered the same way. If, instead, you could immediately express your personal brand, you’d likely earn front-row consideration.
Last month, I was asked to deliver a “how to develop a personal brand” keynote address for actuaries employed at the world headquarters of CUNA Mutual Group, a global insurance company providing financial services to cooperatives and credit unions. If corporate actuaries understand the need to create a personal brand, rest assured that reputation management is a necessity for anyone doing business of any kind in every industry today.
A personal brand isn’t a role or a title. It’s how you make people feel when they do business with you. It’s what people say about you when you walk out a door. It’s why you’re invited to (or excluded from) committee work or special projects. It determines whether or not folks trust you with their business needs.
I challenged the actuaries to create a unique tagline consistent with both company values and their personal values. They were asked to incorporate the three best words to accurately represent themselves.
The resulting brand needed to be authentic, transparent and sustainable. I offered tools to help them do it, including a mind-mapping example and SWOT analysis cheat sheet, and we then looked at how to broadcast their persona via LinkedIn and other online and traditional platforms.
One message always resonates with audiences: “Do not stay where you are tolerated; go where you are celebrated.” However, we all have an obligation, before settling in or before leaving, to shine a light on why we should be celebrated. After we do that self-discovery, it behooves us to share that brand message with supervisors, colleagues and clients.
I also invited the actuaries to maintain a personal ledger sheet for 10 days. They were to consider these questions at day’s end: (1) What blessings did I wake up to today – what talents and benefits did I start the day with? (2) What additional opportunities arose today? (3) What obstacles to success already existed before I opened my eyes this morning? (4) What additional barriers did I (or others) place in my way today? Then they were asked to fill in this summary statement: “Today I had a __________ [adjective] day.”
Since you can never recover or redo a day, and you have a finite number of days on earth, what can you do tomorrow to ensure your summary statement reads exactly the way you’d like it to?
My personal brand? I am a competent business leader, a change agent who mentors others toward growth and potential. At the same time, I am cognizant of all stakeholders involved and compassionatewith regard to their interests.
What are your three words, tagline, and personal brand?