In his book Outliers, author Malcolm Gladwell writes about meaningful work as the fruit of passion, not necessarily of genius. It’s the kind of passion that drove Bill Gates and Steve Jobs and spawned success business models. Whether genius or not, their global fame also solidified personal brand recognition and careers.
In the new economy where the internet is a significant driver of any business or brand, passion and hard work play special roles. Entrepreneurs are trying to find their voice in the crowd, and those who have a boss are trying to stand out above the rest – especially on-line not knowing if that pink slip is around the bend. Either way, one’s personal brand, or their “career identity” can be difficult to articulate, especially when you are going through a job transition, navigating the work life merge trying to balance family and work or starting a new business.
If however, you can find the intersection of where your work and passion meet, you’ll have a better shot at articulating your true brand and standing out above the noise.
Last year I spoke on this topic at Hofstra University’s Women in Transition Conference. Here are the 5 key talking points that governed my keynote, followed by an edited version of my presentation. How can we successfully use passion to fuel our personal brand?
1. Ask yourself, ‘what am I really passionate about, what do I really love that brings me joy in my work?’ Identify your passion and aspects of your personality that drive creativity and passion. When you get to the core of who you are, you can develop your brand in a fluid organic way. Identifying your “PDF” or personality, determination and focus in your niche, is a step toward merging your personal brand and your passion.
2. What unique traits do you embody that feed that passion? What are your greatest strengths? Write them down. What are you good at and what do you need to learn to enhance your strengths? Target, nurture and expand on those attributes and create a skill base around them. Reach out to your network and create your own personal branding advisory board. Ask others, ‘what makes my work special to you, how do I stand out?’ You’ll be surprised how willing colleagues will be to offer guidance.
3. Develop laser sharp talking points. What is the promise you have to deliver on? How can you use your strengths to fuel your passion? How do you distinguish your message, talents and credentials from others in your niche? Communicate your experience in a story or narrative that you are comfortable with. Articulating your passion a tangible way aligned with your expertise is a crucial step toward developing your brand for one significant reason: your passion, while it might be shared by many people, is individualized because you are expressing it through your lens, your voice, your talking points.
4. Feed the monster of the online presence. Start small, be specific within your niche. Start a blog and get your message out there. Explore other blogs within your niche and establish relationships. You can also test your talking points and provide value through your lens on your niche by commenting on other blogs. By participating in your community you begin the process of building your own brand while forming relationships with others. Share your content beginning on the three major social media sites of Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter.
Just a note that at that time I did the Hofstra conference I also wrote an article for Dan Schawbel’s Personal Branding Magazine, The Evolution of the Feminine Brand. If you are new to personal branding, Dan just came out with a revised edition of his book, Me 2.0.