Although we like to think that we are pretty good at identifying how others see us, most of us can still use a studio audience from time-to-time to test out our assumptions. I received a clear reminder of this in one of my recent workshops. When sharing her WOW Factor–the 3 most significant and positive qualities about herself–a participant mentioned something that really didn’t ring true for me in the couple of hours I had spent with her. Now, perhaps that quality manifests in most other situations, but I suspect that the quality was something she was told an emerging leaders should possess. She wants it to be a part of her brand. It’s just not.
And that’s okay. Branding is about authentically finding what about us is irresistibly attractive to the people we want to reach and ensuring we communicate this in way that will be remembered. It’s not supposed to be an exercise in creative writing.
In Awaken Your CAREERpreneur, I provide a variety of recommendations for getting clear on and disseminating one’s brand. One of my favorite pieces of SUCCESSwork in the branding chapter asks a reader to:
Connect with someone you don’t know (or don’t know very well) over the next week. Supermarkets, banks, professional networking events, and public transportation are just a few of the places this can be done. Inform this person that you are interested in getting his or her first impression. Ask the person how she or he would answer each of the following prompts about you.
You come from __________.
Your career entails __________.
For fun, you enjoy __________.
Your greatest achievement is __________.
I should remember you because __________.
If you think this piece of SUCCESSwork is asking a complete stranger to concede to prejudice, you’re right. But remember, we all use prejudice (making an assumption before all facts are known), to make interpretations of the thousands of people, places, and things we encounter each day. The sooner you know how others prejudge you, the more quickly and accurately you can work on shaping and adjusting your brand. Once you are able to survive doing this SUCCESSwork once, strive to do it a few more times so that you have a variety of different responses to compare.
Then, ask yourself the following questions:
What did I discover about the first impression I create?
How do my assumptions about my brand compare or contrast to the description of others?
What adjustments to my brand do I want to make based on the information I have obtained?