What do you do for a living?
Where are you from? What part of town do you live in? Where do you go to school? What are you studying? What do you want to do? How many kids do you have? What do you enjoy doing for fun? What are you good at?
There are many barometers in life that we use to measure ourselves and our worth.
Our careers, our goals, our passions, our education, our relationships, our hobbies, our talents—are just some of the things that we let define who we are.
Who are you?
The other night, I made an appearance at a housewarming party for a few unfamiliar faces here in town. A mutual friend of ours had invited me to the party that was the ‘talk of the town’, so I decided to put on my dancing shoes and meet some new people.
Immediately upon arrival, I was greeted at the door by one of the hosts of the party:
“Hi, I’m Brandon! What’s your name?”
“Hey there, my name is Lauryn.”
“Cool, welcome!—what do you do here in Austin?”
And so, the night ensued as so. As I continued to make new fast friends throughout the evening, I’d be a rich woman now if I had a dime for every time I was asked that same question:
What do you do?
While this is a perfectly normal question—particularly when you are first getting to know a person—I couldn’t help but think about the fact how we as humans seek to find our identity, and often times our worth, in what it is we do for a living (or what we have accomplished in our lives thus far).
Meet Joe. He’s run 24 marathons, and is currently training for an Ultra.
And, here’s Sarah, she’s an environmental lawyer here in town.
I’m Chris. I’m a screenwriter and am working on a movie coming out next spring.
Meet Rachel—she’s in graduate school for physical therapy.
I’m Krista. I work for Facebook.
Here’s Patrick—he’s a personal trainer and former collegiate basketball player.
Identification is not just confined to our jobs either. Depending on your season of life, it seems like there are common questions that are no-brainers, merely because you are ‘that age’:
For the highschool bunch: What sports or activities do you do? Who do you hang out with? And, where are you going to college?
The college crew: What’s your major? What clubs/sororities are you involved in?
Grad school: What’s your dream job?
20-somethings: What do you do for a living?
Moms and dads: How old are your kids? What do your kids do?
30 and 40-somethings: What have you done (accomplished)? And what do you currently do? Who is your spouse?
50-somethings (ie. mid-life crisis): When are you going to retire? What is your next adventure?
60-somethings+: How many grandkids do you have? What did you do? What do you do in retirement?
We all seek it in various ways throughout our lives (Even more so now than ever before with the ability to build your own brand at a finger’s reach, thanks to social media and our ‘connectedness’ with a whole cyber network).
Facebook. Instagram. LinkedIn. Twitter.
And, even if you are not an active social media user, building your brand, is not just about how many LIKES you have on your latest status update or the magazine-worthy picture you snapped with your iPhone…it’s about how you portray yourself to the world, and how others connect and identify with YOU.
For instance, Oprah is not just a ‘talk-show host’—she is a philanthropist, a mover and shaker, woman who speaks change into motion.
Taylor Swift is not just a singer; she’s a leader in the country-pop music movement with self-inspired stories behind her songs.
Barack Obama is not just the current president of the United States, he is the first African-American president of the United States.
Donald Trump is not just a businessman and investor. He is television personality, a reality TV star.
Mother Teresa was not just a nun or missionary. She was the hands and feet of Jesus here on earth.
You don’t have to be a celebrity to have a brand.
What do you stand for? What comes to mind when others think of you? With what do you most identify yourself with—and with what do you want your identity to be?
No matter what it is that you “do”, your brand can be entirely up to you.
Here are some tips—and food for thought—on building your personal brand—through social media, online and in life.
- Define yourself. Before you can begin to build a ‘brand’ (or a name) for yourself, you must first determine what ‘brand’ it is you specifically want to build. Grab a good ol’ pen and paper, and clearly define your goals and objectives. Is it to become known as the best in a certain trade or industry? Obtain a position or level of expertise? Be known as someone who is passionate about something in particular?
- Identify Your Strengths. Ask trusted colleagues, co-workers, family and friends for four or five adjectives they would use to describe you. What are you good at? What are your strengths? In which areas do they view you as one-of-a-kind?
- Get inspired. Do you have any role-models doing what you want to do? How are those who have made it to where you want to be personal branding themselves? What can you learn from what others are doing, good or bad? Who are your biggest competitors-what are they doing to brand themselves?
- Determine your message. What do you want your personal brand to say? What adjectives do you want people to associate with you (as the product) and why? In what niche of the market do you want to become known?
- Determine your audience. Who is your ideal ‘client’, or person you are speaking your message to? Visualize them—what are their characteristics? Where do they hang out? What do they like to read about? What are they seeking? What are they needing? What do they do in their spare time? For instance, my ‘ideal’ clients for my business THRIVE Wellness & Recovery are teens, college girls and women who are seeking enhanced self-confidence and overall wellness. Take “Sally.” “Sally” is a 21-year-old girl, in the thick of college, who wants to feel good in her own skin—and has been looking for a nutrition, fitness and lifestyle transformation of some sort for quite some time. She’s tried diets, she’s tried different exercise regimes, she’s struggled with self-acceptance. Welcome “Sally.” The same could be said of “Lisa.” Lisa is hungry to make a life change. She’s sick and tired of wishing and hoping for things to be different in her life. She’s tired of feeling like things are never going to change; and struggling to make change happen. Will she always be ‘this way?’ She hopes not. Welcome Lisa. Speak to your ‘ideal clients’ in your writing and online content—and the more “Sally’s” and “Lisa’s” you will connect with over time.
- Make a game plan. In order to ‘build’ a brand—you need to have an idea of where you’re going. And, your game plan should include more than just branding yourself online and in social media. Include all parts of you as your brand—both tangible and intangible characteristics of personal branding, such as attire, how you carry yourself, how you sit (up tall? Slouched in a chair), your hair and makeup, your behavior, the organizations and activities in which you engage, verbal and non-verbal communication—you get the picture.
- Consistency, consistency, consistency. No matter how you ‘tell your story’, or the actions you take (in your job, in your relationships ,in the way you spend your time, in the things you stand for), you must be constant. When you are self-aware, you know your message. For instance, say you are a mom of three kids, recently starting a blog on juggling life as a mom and being a ‘domestic goddess, but one day you decide to blog about the latest on al Queda in the news, or write a music review on your favorite rock band—you have lost your ‘key audiences’’ attention; and not kept to your expertise on how to hire an impeccable babysitter, or get your kids to do their chores without you asking, or baking tips and tricks for the best-ever banana bread. Consider how each tweet, pic, comment, post or like on social media platforms will confirm your identity. For example, your profile picture should look similar to the in-person you, and your Tweets should stay within your main niche or area of expertise. If you’ve branded yourself in social media as a creative interior designer, or a nutrition or fitness expert, then make sure that extends to how you come across in person (attire, hair, makeup, etc.). Aside from social media, consider how the things you say, the things you do, and the ways you spend your time overall also serve to confirm your identity.
Ready to start building?
Have fun with it!