Who are you? And more importantly, who do you want to be? Whether you are going to college, are currently at a university or recently graduated, your identity is being constructed while the world around you changes. It can feel intimidating and many of us struggle with who we are, especially when making plans for the future. One of the biggest lessons I took away from college is how important it is to develop a sense of yourself as you are faced with new ideas, people, opportunities and challenges that come during this time of becoming an adult and being out in the world on your own.
Personal branding is an important part of coming into your own, and figuring out who you want to be to the world; it’s not just for business. So here are seven steps to get you started on personal branding that will help you figure out who you are!
1. “Personal brand is what people say about you when you leave the room.” – Jeff Bezos
This quote from Jeff Bezos is from one of my favorite personal branding workshops that I have attended. It is an important reminder of the difference between who you think you are and how others perceive you due to the way you present yourself. People remember the way they felt being around you, no matter what or who you believe you are.
2. “You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with.” – Jim Rohn
Who you surround yourself with changes and shapes who you are, how you act and how you are perceived by others. This is important especially in college when you meet so many new people all the time. As you join clubs, hang out with people on your floor, start new jobs and make new friends make sure to spend time with the people you want to be like.
We all unconsciously adopt similar mannerisms, language and personality traits to the people we spend the most time with. This is increasingly important in classes and in the workplace as we all venture out into the “real world”, because you will, also, be perceived based on who you are with.
3. “If you don’t believe the messenger, you won’t believe the message.” – James Kouzes & Barry Posner
The way you are perceived and the way you present yourself also determine how and whether someone else will take you in and believe in you. This does not just apply to others, you will not believe what you are telling yourself if you do not believe in who you are. Being truthful with yourself is so important in your personal brand, and coming into your own. With all the new experiences and new friends, it can feel like information overload. Don’t forget to take a step back and look inward. If you do not believe in yourself and your brand, then no one else will.
4. Choose three attributes for your personal brand.
The easiest way to get started on your personal brand is to choose three attributes that you want to embody. Start by listing out every trait and adjective you see in yourself, and then narrow it down to the most important three. While doing this exercise myself, I chose my three words to be passionate, committed and leader. Originally, I had put both caring and empathetic on my list, however, when it came down the final three I struggled to put either one. My thought was that empathetic, caring and thoughtful can be seen as being both feminine and a weaker leader. When you are making this list don’t let society in too much. Be truthful with who you are. Ask a friend to go over them with you if you are feeling stuck. Which leads to the next tip…
5. Ask five people to describe you in three words.
Once you have chosen three attributes for yourself, ask five of the people who know you the best to describe you in three words. This gives you a great sense of how they see you, and it’s really eye-opening on who you are to different people. I chose my dad, my sister, my boyfriend and my two best friends of over 10 years. I asked them to send me the three attributes they would use to describe me. It was so interesting to see how each one of these people looked at me because of the different relationships I have with them. Different perspectives are important because you may display different parts of your personality more strongly when in different situations, and you do not fit into everyone’s life in the exact same way. Mixing family and friends is especially important. This helps to realize different parts of who you are.
6. Be yourself.
I struggled to put empathetic on my list of three attributes, and yet every single one of the five people I asked to send me three adjectives listed some form of empathetic or kind when describing me. Who you are is the most important aspect of how much power you yield. It’s okay if you struggle with who you are and it’s okay to be completely different or the same as what society thinks you should be. Through personal branding, I was reminded that I like caring for other people and that the important people in my life cherish it and associate me with being empathetic.
7. Be proud.
Cherish what makes you unique. Be proud of what makes you, you! You are special.
To follow along on my journey, head to @lilliston!