Periodically we feel the need to fine tune our image. This can be accomplished by creating one that is more positive, or more radically by altering our direction. The journey can be both frightening and overwhelming.
Where to begin in the process of recrafting our persona? Dorie Clark, author of “Reinventing You: Define Your Brand, Imagine Your Future,” provides a step by step guide that illuminates these actions. Firstly, she recommends that individuals engage in the sometimes painful exercise of soliciting (and acting) upon feedback. This step is critically important, because the truth is ever present – whether we acknowledge it or not. It’s our unwillingness to engage in self-discovery that becomes problematic.
Obtaining others’ perceptions is a way to more accurately assess your image, as Canfield (2005, p. 156) demonstrates: “A powerful question to ask family members, friends, and colleagues is ‘How do you see me limiting myself?’”
Similarly, Clark encourages those considering transformation to convene a focus group of trusted colleagues – ones who will provide their honest interpretation. Combining this technique with one-on-one interviews (e.g., “What are three words you’d use to describe me?”) along with inspection of your online presence will provide a solid picture of the message you’re transmitting (Clark, 2013).
We’re many times good at seeing others’ flaws, but weak when it comes to detecting our own. Your brand is in essence your reputation – and you only have one. Personal branding is then an act of self-organization, an activity which consists of obtaining the facts (from multiple sources), analyzing the data, making connections, and charting your course.
What you once considered important may change. Individuals who were “go to persons” may not have cache in your new career; clubs at which you made connections may be less useful when you choose to shift gears.
It’s a little like building a company – although the firm you’re constructing is you. As Clark sagely notes, defining a new image takes time, with some possible detours and detective work along the way. This may include volunteering, gaining mentors or persons to emulate, and “sending the right signals” through strategic use of social media.
A successful metamorphosis involves constantly scanning the horizon – for new opportunities, contacts, how you’re coming across, and of course, the finished product.