So what is your personal brand?

At one level, it is the sum of you – your attitudes, behaviours and experiences.

Keep in mind, though, that a brand is a form of shorthand. If a stranger came up to you in the street and asked, could you articulate for them in one sentence who you are and what you stand for?

Yet at another level, it doesn’t matter what you think your brand is – it is how others perceive you.

That stranger has made assumptions about your brand before you even open your mouth, by looking at how you stand, dress and act, and by the company that you keep.

They may also be familiar with you, from interactions with their friends and through social media.

Indeed, you constantly project your brand. So above all, a personal brand should be authentic and natural – this is something we will return to, shortly.

When properly managed, your personal brand can be a powerful tool that you can use to further your relationships and career.

We are not suggesting for a minute that you need to sanitise or corporatize your image in a way that misrepresents who you are.

If you are a fun-loving, party person that can be your brand! Just be aware that once people make assumptions about who you are, it can be very hard to change their impressions.

So what is your brand?

Choose six words to describe yourself and write them down.

Be honest – if you feel you are not ‘funny’ or ‘weird’ or ‘resilient’ or ‘professional’ don’t use these words to describe you.

We are after your personal brand, from your perspective.

Now, is this the same image you project to the world?

Is this the image you want to project to the world?

Now what if you asked six other people to describe you in just six words?

Would they say the same six things?

Ok, asking your Mum is kind of cheating here – what if you asked six people who didn’t know you very well: someone in your class at Uni; or someone in a sport team you’ve just joined; someone you’ve just met recently at a social interaction.

Are you brave enough to give it a try?

Maybe not?

Ok then, time for some ego-surfing!

Google your name together with your home town and see what comes up.

Don’t forget to do the image and video searches too!

How this information comes together is how people perceive you.

People you have never met and may never meet can form opinions of who you are, which may not really matter.

But what if one of those people is a potential friend, partner, or employer?

The important lesson here is that despite what has gone before, you can largely control what goes out from here.

You can decide what to say, or write, or do in order to convey a certain brand.

That projected image will in turn influence what others think of you.

You can also consciously avoid putting yourself in positions that might jeopardise the brand you are trying to create.

This is why it is important to have well defined core brand values that inform your behaviour and decisions, and this is what we will look at in the next presentation.

For now, though, go back to your big six words.

Are they how others see you?

And if you can’t change their minds, what can you do to ensure that the people you meet from today see the true you?