Let’s stop and take a moment to appreciate the wisdom and magic of Dr. Seuss.
“Today you are you, that is truer than true. There is no one alive that is you-er than you.”
“Be who you are and say what you feel because those who mind don’t matter and those who matter don’t mind.”
Somehow his words apply to almost everything. What is online authenticity? What is personal branding? What does all that mean and what do we do with it?
Do we take Dr. Seuss’ advice and opt for full out transparency or do we play it safe when representing ourselves publicly? Online, we are subject to more stringent accountability than the workplace generations of the past. The question remains: how do we brand ourselves in a way that is professional while maintaining authenticity and integrity?
When developing your personal brand, it is tempting to start egotistically pontificating about yourself and create a fantastical banquet of 5 dollar words that are neither true nor authentic, therefore misrepresenting yourself. Let’s be honest, this can come back and bite us hard. The vocabulary nerd in me loved writing that first sentence, but, in the spirit of full disclosure, I borrowed part of it from Shakespeare’s Much Ado About Nothing.
Putting your best foot forward does not excuse dishonesty. You aren’t a different person online and if you can’t live up to the hype and persona you create for yourself when developing your personal brand than you are doing more harm than good.
You want what you present about yourself online and publicly to be what people really think about you and say behind your back. Jeff Bezos, the founder of Amazon.com, defined it like this: “Personal brand is what people say about you when you leave the room.”
It’s a step-by-step process and maybe more simple than we originally might think. Marketing expert Michael Port wrote a book I’m reading right now called Book Yourself Solid and it breaks down how to market yourself in easy to implement steps.
First, find what is interesting about yourself that makes you special, i.e. who you help, how you help them, why you do it and so on and so forth.
To sum up:
1) Be authentic. Making yourself appear better only sets you up to fail in the long run.
2) Self assess. What makes you special and why do they care?
3) Present it. Gather what makes up “you” and deliver it.
4) Make it stick. Keep it short and simple so they can remember it.
5) Read Dr. Seuss. He knew exactly who he was and we remember him because he didn’t try to hide it.