Today, let’s chat about a vital ingredient in the recipe for professional success – staying true to your personal brand. Just like your favorite coffee blend or, perhaps, a fine wine, your unique qualities, values, and skills create a distinct flavor that sets you apart. In a world buzzing with opportunities, authenticity is the secret sauce.
Recently, I happened upon two examples of people who really “walk the talk” when it comes to putting their best foot forward and staying true to who they are.
- First, I had the chance to meet Michael Steele, the former Chairman of the Republican National Committee, the former Lt. Governor of the State of Maryland, a political analyst for MSNBC, and host of The Michael Steele Podcast. I must say, Michael was just as nice as can be. An affable person with a charming personality, he willingly and animatedly engaged in conversation with everyone at the event. That was all terrific, but what really stood out to me was more subtle than all that when it came to expressing who he is as a person. At the conclusion of our conversation, I requested his business card which he readily produced. It was no ordinary business card… it was CLEAR. Yes, clear. You could see right through it! When I asked him what possessed him to run his cards on clear material, he chuckled and said, “when I share my contact details, I also want people to recognize that I am completely transparent!” BRILLIANT! Imagine that – a political type who builds his reputation on honesty, clarity, and transparency. Whatever your politics, there’s no denying that that is a great platform!
- A second example of someone sticking to his ideals is my pal, André Davis, Shareholder and Vice President with Alliant Insurance Services. Beyond his title, André is a connector extraordinaire! He is constantly looking out for others, making himself available, and showing up! He truly puts the give in giving. Not long ago, the two of us met up for lunch. Always the dapper dresser, André showed up with a new piece of jewelry that further set him apart from others: He was wearing a beautiful lapel pin embossed with a QR code. When I asked, half-jokingly, if I would get to his personal website if I scanned the code, he lit up and replied with an enthusiastic, “Yes!” In fact, a quick scan of the code took me to André’s LinkedIn profile. Talk about clever – the pin absolutely embodies André – a fashionable accoutrement that doubles as a tool for community connection. GENIUS! Truly an example of someone honoring his brand and making that clear to those with whom he interacts.
It is important to both tell people who you are and to show them who you are. No surprise, consistency in your personal brand builds trust and loyalty, whether you’re networking over lunch or navigating the corporate landscape. Remember, your brand defines you, it drives your community reputation, it helps you to amass social capital and generate respect – make sure it resonates with who you are, how you want to be perceived, and your personal/professional goals.