The MPW Insiders Network is an online community where the biggest names in business and beyond answer timely career and leadership questions. Today’s answer for, “What’s the best way to manage your personal brand?” is written by Tracy Brady, VP of agency communications at Hill Holliday.
I believe that personal brands, like consumer brands, require three things: clarity, character, and consistency.
For a brand to become known and loved, it has to clearly stand for something—an unsurpassed customer experience, like the Four Seasons Hotels, a passionate commitment to a cause, like American Red Cross, or a deep emotional connection cemented over time (for me, Crest toothpaste).
It’s the same with people. Be clear about what you stand for, and what you have to offer. What makes you different and worth paying attention to? What are you clearly really good at that others could learn from? What can you do better than almost anyone at your company? Write it down. Distill it. Memorize it. Finally, memorialize it in an elevator pitch. What are your talking points to promote yourself? Remember, opportunity favors the prepared.
When I was promoting my first novel and people would ask for a short “bio” to accompany interviews, I would painstakingly craft something I thought made me look more accomplished and smarter than I actually was. But later on, I realized that what people really found interesting was my previous career experience working with celebrities. So that became part of my humor—and my selling point: “Tracy McArdle has over a decade of experience in the entertainment business, and has fetched mangoes for Salma Hayek, delivered champagne to Madonna, and been brought to tears by the Wu Tang Clan.”
While not exactly great for a resume, it got editors interested in my book, which was the goal.
At the same time, you need to be human and forge a connection so that your brand is memorable. That’s where character comes in. You have unique personality traits, idiosyncrasies, and even character flaws that should be embraced, not stifled. People remember the unusual and the unexpected, especially when it’s authentic because it makes them laugh or feel good. Believe in your abilities and be bold about it. Connection is key to any brand’s success, and so is confidence.
Finally, consistency is key. Maintain your brand’s selling points across every platform and opportunity you have, whether a presentation, byline, blog post, or job interview. The more you sell yourself out loud across a variety of stages, the more comfortable you will be doing it and the more natural it will become.
Brady is not an investor of the companies mentioned in this article.