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Malcolm Levene

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The ABC's of Personal Branding

Posted: 04/06/10 11:45 AM ET

In order to have a Personal Brand that's both meaningful and strong, like a building, you need sturdy foundations. Think of it as a support structure, something you can rely upon come what may. The ABCs of Personal branding will provide you with the underpinnings you need for your Brand.

"A" is for authenticity, a quality that will stand the test of time and provide you with robust feelings of self belief and a healthy self confidence. Authenticity is a key element for anyone who wishes to experience the significant benefits that come with discovering their Personal Brand. Learning to be authentic is a journey. Most of us, over a period of time, begin to wear a mask which is a symptom of conditioning, fear, lack of self trust and perhaps self-consciousness. For some, it represents a form of protection, for others a way of melding in, or perhaps more importantly, not standing out. By beginning to peel away the mask, our journey to authenticity begins.

Being authentic enables you to be the real you, the person you've kept under wraps; perhaps for fear of not being approved by others. Or, maybe you've not been willing to take the risk to show up and be the truest version of you. In part, showing up is about having the courage to take the risk and be the person who lives inside you and expressing it on the outside. If you think about the people who strike you as being authentic, they almost always show up. They'll have qualities, characteristics and perceived values you share, admire, or to which you aspire. If you write down the qualities of these individuals, you will gain a clearer idea about your own authentic brand. Then, pluck out the words that mean the most to you and create a Personal Brand statement for yourself. A client recently did this; here's her statement: "I convey energy, sophistication and charisma." Even when you are confronted with one of life's many challenges, if you call upon your Personal Brand statement to guide you, it will help you to stay on track.

"B" is for believable, which is an outcome of becoming authentic. If you would like your reputation to precede you, then being believable is vital to your Personal Brand. It's a quality you earn. Being trusted by others is a symptom of trusting yourself - and self trust is an outcome of knowing yourself. As Aristotle said, "Knowing yourself is the beginning of all wisdom." Those who we consider to be believable are reliable in word and deed. They also look and act a certain way. It's as if you always feel safe in their company, because you know you can depend on them. People who we think are grounded in the present, are always more believable.

"C" is for congruency. One of the words the dictionary uses to define congruency is 'harmony', which is a good place to start. Because there is so much turmoil in the world, harmony as it relates to the big picture might seem a bit of a stretch. However, if we reduce the picture down to something more manageable like our inner harmony, there's a chance we can bring it to bear. Inner harmony is directly related to being congruent. When we speak, act and behave in ways that are congruent, inner turmoil dissipates, self-doubt dwindles and certainty, clarity and purpose emerge.

When we feel even the smallest stirrings of inner harmony, we become motivated and inspired to want to feel more. Congruency denotes the style of your Personal Brand. The tone, attitude and content of your emails, phone calls and voice mail message must be congruent. Once you've created your own unique style of communication, it becomes embedded within you. You begin to enjoy the way others respond to you; people may even mirror your particular communication style. That's when the style of your Personal Brand becomes something to which others aspire. I think this quote says it all:

"Style, neurologically, is the deepest part of one's being, and may be preserved almost to the end, even in dementia" - Oliver Sacks.

9 Tips on the ABC's of Personal Branding:

A uthenticity:

1. Begin peeling away the mask. And remember, vulnerability is an integral part of self discovery. It's about letting go.
2. Know that any form of discovery, be that about you or something else, takes patience, discipline and determination.
3. When you are aware of times you are not being authentic, you are on the way to becoming more authentic.

Believability:

1. Self belief is at the core of being believable. The more you believe in you, the more believable you will be.
2. Learn as much as you can about yourself. The better you know who you are, the better you can be who you are.
3. By learning to trust yourself, as if by osmosis, you will gain the trust of others.

Congruency:

1. By communicating in your own unique voice, one that conveys clarity, fluency and thoughtfulness, your Personal Brand will move up several notches.
2. Make the effort to ensure you gain a reputation for saying what you mean and meaning what you say.
3. Irrespective of the mode of communication that's at your disposal, use your Personal Brand statement as your style guide.
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