Now my daughter is now 12 (going on 16!), the days of bedtime stories are long gone and these days I have to sign a school planner to confirm that she’s completed her daily reading. So, although reading time is a little forced, I cling on to the rare times where we (or maybe I) can enjoy some down time together and read or chat through what she’s read.

She has moved on from Diary of a Wimpy Kid (thank goodness), to Harry Potter.  When she got to the chapter where Harry was given a mysterious present, a cloak of invisibility for Christmas, she commented ‘If I had an invisible cloak I would spy on all my friends to find out what they REALLY say about me when I’m not there’.  Her comment reminded me of a question I often ask my clients when exploring the influence of personal brand; what do people say about you and does this really matter?

I’ve worn many different hats during my career – in the form of job titles – and what I’ve noticed is that navigating the breadth of where or what I might want to do next is not only about performing well and delivering results (this is a given) but also about building great relationships through a healthy network of people who unexpectedly open doors, promote you and support you in your achievements.  So I think of a personal brand rather like a cloak of invisibility, maybe not quite like Harry’s, but one to which other people’s perceptions – consciously or subconsciously – are pinned; which, ultimately, is what people say about you when you’re not around – your brand.

Of course, we all already have our personal brands so just as a business protects and refreshes its brand, it makes sense to take care of ours.  Here are some pointers to get you started on refreshing your brand:

What do you want to be known for? 

  • Get some quiet introspection about who you are and how you present this to the world; e.g. your background story, interests, family, ideas for the future, vision etc.
  • Ask for feedback from others, be brave and think about who you’d like to get more feedback from, not just your known fans. 
  • From this insight you may need to alter what you talk about or turn the volume up a little about what you’re interested in.

What do you stand for?

  • Write down what’s important to you, what you care about, what your values are, and think about how these show up in your daily routines.  
  • Genuinely engage with all that you do and everyone you meet with an interested and curious mindset.
  • Make authenticity your differentiator by aligning what you think, believe, feel and say; consistently, over time.

Where do you want to go?

  • We know that we should never ‘judge a book by it’s cover’ but the reality is most of us humans quickly do just that.  Does your image project where you want to go?  
  • Make sure your professional online presence represents what you want the world to know about you; from your photo, how you describe yourself, endorsements and recommendations, through to the conversations you join in with.
  • Keep relevant by listening in to what’s being talked about and ask questions to get thought-provoking conversations going, and within this context share your views and opinions with others.

A personal brand is not manufactured, it’s graceful, sincere and will evolve over time. It certainly is not some sort of egotistical self-promotion campaign.  It’s simply about being your authentic self and letting others see this.

Trying my best to connect with my daughter’s thoughts, the brilliant Oscar Wilde quote came to mind ‘be yourself, everyone else is already taken’.  As I shared this with her, I tried to explain, with enthusiasm, that being herself is just like having her own invisibility cloak… how magic is that?!  She looked at me with a little smile and a big ‘whatever’ eye-roll then handed me her school planner to sign.

Karen Taplin


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