If you watched The Avengers, you know that Tony Stark had a snap personal branding moment: genius billionaire playboy philanthropist. Of course he’s also a bit of a narcissist, is insecure, and tends to be a bit self-centered. There’s a bit of a disconnect there. I’m betting if you took everything Tony does in The Avengers and the three Iron Man movies that most of them would fall into these buckets. He could certainly be a genius and a billionaire and self centered at the same time. If you took all of those cases and added them up in buckets then you’d have Tony’s personal tag cloud.
We all have our own attributes across our personal and professional lives. The other morning, I was getting dressed for a meeting and it struck me that I’d been called in to do something pretty specific for a certain reason. Any time I get an email from my boss with a request to get me engaged, it generally says something like “Eric’s perfect for that” or “That’s right up Eric’s alley”. That’s because I’ve worked hard to develop knowledge and the ability to present it in a wide range of situations. I’ve also worked hard to make sure that people know about it in the right ways. That’s taken quite a bit of thought plus constant preparation and communication. In short, building that professional brand takes strategy and the daily commitment to follow through on what you want people to think. If people look you up in the corporate directory, you want them to have a mental image of a tag cloud saying what they’d call you about and why you’re the right one to reach out to.
I was wondering about my personal tag cloud as well. Then it struck me that I actually do have one I’ve been working on there too. You can actually see it on the blog (you may need to scroll down a little). A big part of starting this blog was to start tracking things about my life and contemplate them through writing. The biggest words in the cloud include Awareness, Confidence, Family, Friends, Good Person, Inner Geek, Life Lessons, and Self Awareness. It may be that these are just my favorite topics to write about but they’re also what I like to stand for and promote. I’ve got nearly 90 entries written so far and really feel that building around these ideas has made me a better and more rounded person.
It’s well worth putting thought into how you want others to think about you and checking on how your image is really received. Emails at work asking for me by name are one professional measure. Seeing my boss put me in situations where he can count on me with confidence is another. Seeing how each week’s blog entries are received and what kinds of conversation they generate are good metrics for that project and help me understand how I’m progressing there. Just remember to look for feedback.
Do you try to put forth a certain image? What is it?