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How I Overcame My Discomfort with Personal Branding

by Thought Starters

In this article you will learn about the discomfort I experienced when cultivating a personal brand and how I learnt to overcome this.

What I have discovered from my own and my client’s journeys with raising their profile online and establishing their thought leadership is that where there is discomfort there is growth.  Learning to embrace your personal brand is part of learning to embrace yourself, warts and all. And this is a big task, emotionally.

The most common person who holds us back from achieving our full potential is ourselves.  The voice inside our head that tells us ‘you are not enough’. You know the one! But guess what? You are enough, and the surest way to head in the direction you need to go, is to begin. Not tomorrow, not next week, not when you’ve finished that project, dropped those last 10 kilograms or when you’ve been to the hairdresser and hidden the greys. It’s now.

I see great value in the power of developing your personal or professional brand to achieve your professional goals.  My initial discomfort was understanding where to begin to embrace my own personal brand.  We’re all a work in progress and the cultivation of your personal brand will take time and develop as you get to know yourself and consider how you want to show up in your professional life.

I continue to reflect on my narratives, tones and messaging here on the blog, over on LinkedIn and when I’m working with clients or meeting new people. These all form part of the impression I make, the conversations I start, the ideas I inspire and the thoughts I provoke. And this is where the value of personal branding is for me – understanding the impact I want to have on others and the difference I want to make to Think Bespoke’s community.

The Value of Embracing Personal Branding

I’ve learnt to embrace personal branding because I understand it has the potential to help me reach a wider audience and share more of my insights with the people I wish to influence. Personal branding is about embracing your professional self and understanding the key ways you add value to your community. It goes far beyond the way you look, but this is also part of the mix.  When you are ready it’s worth investing in professional photography and considering your work wardrobe. Over time I have engaged the services of a personal branding photographer and stylist to assist in these areas, as they do not come naturally to me.

Personal branding is about what you stand for. You need to consider:

  • Alignment of professional goals with how you show up online (because it’s not just about followers it’s about deep conversations and real human connection)
  • Your website presence and organisational branding (for entrepreneurs)
  • Your narratives on LinkedIn and social media
  • Your key messages, tone and language
  • The communities you wish to serve and what parts of you are relatable to them
  • The problems you solve for this community, especially around their pain points

The Cultivation of a Personal Brand Requires a Well Thought Out Plan

Once you’ve explored these factors, you then need to consider your appetite for creating a consistent online presence, based on a strategic content framework.  For me this has meant knowing the communities I wish to serve and uncovering the parts of me that are relatable for them and that I feel comfortable sharing. A very close colleague shared that she really likes my personal reflections, and would like to be able to show up online like this too. In many ways these reflections are as a result of how I process my experiences. They work for me, are part of my process, and, thankfully, also resonate with my community. Your version of this will be unique to you and you’ll only be clear about what it looks like when you’ve developed a well thought out plan based on your commercial goals. This is not a game, this is your career. And you need to take it seriously by putting yourself first.

Developing my personal brand has been aided by the self imposed discipline of developing my narrative by writing regularly here on Think Bespoke’s blog.  By sharing insights in my areas of expertise on this blog via articles and updates on LinkedIn and social media, I’ve become known as the ‘LinkedIn Lady’. A key element of my personal brand is my LinkedIn expertise and focus on my preference for building relationships versus chasing transactions.  My articles these days are mostly focused on being helpful and adding value via my LinkedIn, Personal Branding and Content Marketing insights. When I have an appetite for revealing more of myself, or need to process recent events, I will share more thought provoking pieces [like this article] and step outside of my comfort zone by sharing insights that are reflective and feel like a higher risk.

Taking Risks: Dementia, Feeling Lost, Being Australian and More!

The risk is in caring what people think. You’ll hear me say I’d rather be respected than liked, and yet I’m also mindful of not alienating people. It’s at this juncture that the concept of a personal brand really starts to come to life.  Perhaps a strong personal brand does need to alienate some communities. For me, I’m inclined to alienate those with extrovert behaviours, because I know I do my best work with clients who have more ambivert or introverted tendencies. And this is the journey I am on, which gives you an insight into the fact that the cultivation of a personal brand is an iterative and ongoing process.

If this all sounds too cerebral, or perhaps even a bit ‘fluffy’ and you’re struggling to anchor onto what it is I actually mean, please read some of the articles I’ve included below that share some of my more thought provoking perspectives and go beyond my normal ‘How To’ articles.

It will give you a taste of what ‘just begin’ means and how get more comfortable with ‘putting yourself out there’. After all, everything is sweetened by risk. A calculated one, of course.  Writing in this way can deeply connect you with your readers. I’ve enjoyed some wonderful conversations with clients and potential clients who’ve read these pieces. It’s helped us get to know each other quicker and helped them decide if I am for them! And this is a key benefit of cultivating your personal brand – helping potential clients or employers decide if you are ‘for them’ and reducing risk as they evaluate your suitability as a service provider or employee.

  1. Hello, my name is Karen and I am an Ambivert
  2. The Hazards of Parenting in the Digital Age
  3. Discovering What It Means to Be Australian
  4. How I Cope with Feeling Lost
  5. How I Found Light in the Darkness of Dementia
  6. Why You Can’t Wear Thongs When Guest Speaking
  7. Is it Time to Say Goodbye to Facebook?

5 Steps to Build Your Personal Brand Online

In 5 Steps for Building Your Personal Brand Online I share my chance encounter over dinner with a professional photographer in my network I decided to invest my energies in developing a series of photography that would better showcase, me, my services and approach. It was uncomfortable, but I’m really happy with the results.

In this behind the scenes branding photo shoot video by Fi Mims she describes how she led me through this experience. This was taken on the day of the branding shoot. Note how uncomfortable I seem at the start of the day and my relief and happiness at the end! I’m glad I did this and encourage you to do the same.

Reflecting On Your Own Personal Brand

  1. What are you known for?
  2. How do people describe you when you’re not in the room?
  3. Your answers to these two questions are a strong indicator of your personal brand.
Karen Hollenbach

Karen Hollenbach

As the Founding Director of Think Bespoke I help individuals and organisations unlock their potential with LinkedIn. Sign up to my E-insights for LinkedIn tips.

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