In 2013 Forbes headlined an article titled Personal Branding is a Leadership Requirement, not a Self-Promotion Campaign, reminding us that ‘Developing your personal brand is essential for the advancement of your career and development as a leader.’. In 2014, the topic of Leadership Branding and Executive Presence is hotter than ever. Leaders are being watched, their opinions taken seriously, their influence in cyberspace a parallel determinant of their influence in the real world. There is a rich collection of articles available about the Why, How and What of Personal Branding and I encourage all leaders to do their homework carefully in this regard (And, feel free to be in touch with me if I can offer additional insight). As an energetic contributor into the personal branding space, this post shares what I call ‘unexpected ideas’ to boost your brand, based on my own experience and keen eye in watching those who are carving out strong personalities in cyberspace;
1. Take a course in photography
The cyberworld loves pictures. Posts with pictures generate the greatest interest and influence. A post that says “I’m at Lapalanzi Conference Centre leading the mid-year strategy session” is made more special by a photograph of your podium, or the view, or your team deep in conversation. But poor photographs are quickly passed over, so why not boost your skills with a quick course in photography? All that is needed is to get a clear idea of the photographic rules of thirds to help you to snap a reasonable picture. Your smartphone can do the rest.
2. Learn the art of the Selfie
Obama does it and so should you. People are hungry to see their leaders at work and play. Relying on others to snap pics of you can be risky and result in images that you’d prefer to not share. Besides, selfies are fun. They demonstrate a lighter side of you coupled with confidence.
3. Stop wearing other people’s brands on your chest
It’s your brand that needs to stand out. Not Nike, Old Khaki, American Apparel or even Louis Vuitton, so stop being a willing billboard for other people’s brands. Dressing the part is always key, we know that, but good grooming is not about shouting out the label you wear on the front of your clothing. Strong colours with minimal patterns help you to stand out in the cyber as well as the real world. And rather have people looking and listening to you then reading your shirt.
4. Your contacts on Social media are your co-creators, not your fan club
Just like in the real world, continuously boasting about your success online will become boring. Yes, do share when you are proud of yourself and your work. But spend an equal amount of time boasting about others who make you proud too. Make other people feel good and they will feel good about you.
5. Be (a little) vulnerable
We love our leaders and we aspire to lead and live like them. We also love those who are like us – vulnerable, human, grappling with stuff. Sharing a little of your vulnerability will help you to create a more rounded brand and be considered authentic. There is a balance between strength and vulnerability of course, but as a leader, I know you know that already.
Living and leading in this new world of technology, sharing and branding is an adventure in and of itself. It’s simple, complex and most of all, I believe, it should be fun. I look forward to hearing your unexpected results. See you in cyberspace.