The most undervalued skill in professional development is personal branding. Long thought of as a skill needed only for politicians and entrepreneurs, personal branding has been neglected by large groups of professionals that could truly use it. How our clients, prospects, coworkers and superiors remember us is as critical as anything else to our success.

It’s my firm belief that all of us can benefit from a personal branding plan. In this post, I will lay out the three most important elements for developing one.

Element One: Self Awareness

The first element is by far the most important one. Self-awareness, allows us to know what it is that we do well. It allows us to know what we don’t do as well as others. Being self-aware means knowing ourselves well enough to know our abilities and limitations as well as the skill of being honest enough with ourselves about them. We can’t play to our strengths if we don’t know what they are. We look foolish attempting to soar with our weaknesses. Self-awareness is our silver bullet to understanding what we are branding.

Element Two: Authenticity

Self-awareness is knowing ourselves, authenticity is being ourselves. A great personal branding strategy highlights who we really are, not who we want to be or be seen being. It’s being as honest with others about who we are as we are with ourselves. This is a crucial element to personal branding because authenticity is the cornerstone of charisma. People like to be around genuine and real people and that’s where our power comes from.

Element Three: Narrative

I recently came across a great story from Steve Jobs watching Snow White with his children after it’s 60th-anniversary release and knowing that no one would love their Mac 60 years after they buy it because people love stories more than products. There is so much truth in that statement.  Every time we answer the question, what do you do? Or have the opportunity to engage a new audience, it’s our narrative, the story of our career, who we are and what we do, that separates us from the ordinary. When used correctly, there’s not a more powerful element of personal branding than our narrative.

Standing out from our colleagues and competition is something all of us must take seriously. Having a personal branding plan is a great way to set ourselves apart. When you design yours make sure you bring self-awareness, authenticity and a strong narrative to the table with you. With these elements, your plan keeps you memorable in the minds of those who matter.


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