Defining your personal brand - for you

Sometimes it can be difficult to achieve a goal alone, and if people don't know anything about you, they can't really help you. While talking about your personal brand might sound cringe-worthy, it's just a newer term for something we've been doing all along: letting other human beings know what we want them to know about us.

Building my personal brand is the equivalent of wearing my Good Charlotte shirt to school on the day of their show when I was in high school: I was ALREADY a super-cool punk, I wasn't just buying the shirt at the show that night and everyone could see that. People have been doing this since the beginning of time (shaping their identity through their looks and interests, not wearing Good Charlotte shirts).

I would never claim to be an expert about personal branding. There are countless workshops, videos, courses, articles, and books on the subject. But something as easy as completing a personal brand worksheet and updating your social media bios is a good start. Try googling "personal brand worksheet + ____" and take a glance through them for a few minutes to find one that suits you. The ____ should be based off of your goals.

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What is the overarching theme of YOU? For example, I compiled my own worksheet based off of ones that I found searching for "writer" and "development coach". You can stick with one or cut and paste questions together from a few to make your own. Don't let it eat up your entire day; poke around for ten or fifteen minutes to find one, put it together, and fill it out. It shouldn't take that long to complete if you're answering with your gut reactions. Then make a few tweaks to share your brand with the world.

Just updating my LinkedIn bio with my author info led to a co-worker buying my book. Figuring out a few key Instagram hashtags to add to my development posts led to subscribers to my newsletter. Creating my own mission statement about how I want to spend my days helped me help my boss create a new position at work just for me. These small changes build up and help you achieve your goals. But your personal brand is personal: it's mostly about you. Having a clear focus will make you more productive.

The building blocks of your brand should still be generosity and community. Wearing my Good Charlotte shirt to school was a way to let cute punk guys know I was cool (yes, I thought this, gimme a break), but a band shirt is also how I met one of my best friends in high school: I saw her wearing a New Found Glory shirt at lunch, I walked up and introduced myself, and it started a friendship that lasted for years. So put your signal out and see what comes back.

Caitlin Harper