Dr. Michael R. Burcham, CEO, Nashville Entrepreneur Center.
One of the most important things you can work on today is figuring out who you (really) are, what you are passionate about, and how this should influence (and build) your personal brand and reputation. You should constantly build and nurture your personal brand – it is the one thing that will allow you to make the jump from one pursuit to the next.
Whether you realize it or not, you already have your own individual brand. This brand is the combination of your physical appearance, your digital and online presence, your conversations, relationships and behaviors. The mixture of these elements leads to a uniquely distinguishable impression or brand.
Your personal brand is what you stand for – the values, abilities and actions that others associate with you. It impacts how you are perceived before anyone ever meets you. Your personal brand tells others what they can expect when they deal with you.
Let’s work though a few simple steps to help you think about yourself as a brand.
Step 1: Take Inventory of Your Current Brand
The first step in creating a memorable personal brand is to reflect on the elements that make YOU authentic. In taking some personal inventory, take a long look in the mirror and consider these questions:
- What are your strengths; what do you do better than anyone else?
- What are your core values; the principles by which you choose to live your life?
- What are others frequently praising you or complimenting you for?
- What type of advice do others come to you for?
- What makes the way you achieve results unique?
- What are your passions; what gives you energy?
Step 2: Decide How You Wish to be Known
The key to a powerful brand is become single minded. Instead of trying to be all things to all people, determine what is the one key personal attribute that – if you were known for it industry wide – would be a game changer for you and your career. It may be your reliability or your perseverance, your attention to detail or your strategic thinking skills.
Step 3: Choose to Become World Class at One Thing
Write down what it would take to be the best in the world at one thing (hopefully choosing something you’re already considered “good” at doing). Consider these questions as you work thought this trait:
- How would you need to behave?
- What additional things do you need to learn?
- How do you dress for the part?
- How would you need to change your routine (or develop new habits) to become the living embodiment of that trait?
Step 4: Build Your Transformation Map
After you’ve done steps 1, 2 and 3 – you will have a list of personal brand to do’s. Now work on executing that list by setting yourself weekly and monthly tasks to help you manifest your key personal attributes and the one thing you wish to be world class at doing. Personal brands can be quickly developed if you are systematic in developing yourself.
Develop your “brand mantra” – the foundation of your personal brand efforts. This is the heart and soul of your brand; a simple, memorable statement describing who you are and what you have to offer.
Develop a memorable “elevator speech” – the one minute story you tell about yourself and your work that will create a lasting impression to those that hear the story.
Step 5: Execute Your Plan
People with strong brands are clear about who they are. They know and maximize their strengths. They get feedback from others to validate how others experience them.
Once you have your personal brand strategy plan developed, be consistent. Incorporate your brand into your psyche. The best way to build your personal brand is to propagate it consistently, protecting the integrity of your brand message (your mantra). Reflect your brand message every time you tweet, post, pitch, interact, lead or speak publically. Just like a magnifying glass intensifies an image, a well-managed personal brand elevates your impact.
About the Author
Michael Burcham is President & CEO of the Nashville Entrepreneur Center. A serial entrepreneur who began his career at Hospital Corporation of America, Michael has a passion for helping individuals organize and grow their businesses. He served as President of ParadigmHealth from 2000-2007. ParadigmHealth specialized in the management of life-limiting and life-threatening medical events and was sold to Inverness Medical Innovations in December, 2007. Michael is a member of the Nashville Capital Network. He serves at the Board of Nashville’s Technology Council, Nashville’s International Business Council, and Nashville’s Small Business Council. He is also a Special Venture Partner with Galen Partners Investment in New York. Michael is also a strategic advisor and Board Member to a variety of startup firms and venture capital funds involved in healthcare and technology.