Your personal brand is the perception people have about you created from inputs you've given them, deliberately or not. It's how they experience you, a gut feeling they have about you.
From the minute you engage with a client, boss or coworker you have a brand.
The reputation you've built over the years makes people create expectations about you, so your personal brand is also a sort of promise you've made. Do you show up on time for meetings? Do you respect deadlines? Do you deliver a high-quality service? How much do you charge?
Every tiny input you give people contributes to the story they tell themselves about you, so the question is: are you being intentional about that or not?
Managing the impressions you cause
What we think, say and do determine what we get from life, but while thinking is manifested internally, things we say and do cause an impression on people. Human relationships are based on verbal and non-verbal communication, so when you let things be subjective, unintentionally, you're not helping yourself achieve what you want in life.
That's why you should be intentional about what and how you communicate.
When you have clarity on personal and professional goals, developing and growing your brand is one great way of creating new opportunities for yourself; by intentionally managing the impressions you cause on people, you increase the chances of getting big and better clients, invitations to teach at university classes, public speaking gigs, working in a bigger company...
How to develop and grow your personal brand?
Developing and growing your brand involves two things. First, being intentional when sharing aspects of your personal and professional life in a way that makes clients, or companies, see you as the right option for them in the midst of thousands of others; from what they've seen, you're the perfect fit.
Second, it involves becoming a trusted authority in your space, which requires choosing what to focus on and embracing continuous learning.
Strategy is a fundamental step here as it brings clarity on where you should be investing time, energy and money to grow your brand. By going through the process of brand strategy, personal strengths and goals become aligned, focus narrows and the number of opportunities that matter increases.
Opportunity expands as focus narrows.