A Focused Personal Brand
I am amazed how few women, even executives, can say who they are, what they do, giving examples to demonstrate the value created for their company, financially and otherwise. And yet we all know, understanding why something is working or not, is critical to business success.
Fortunately, we can overcome this tendency if we have a good reason.
• Being noticed
• Negotiating a pay rise
• Getting funding for a project
• Making a case for promotion
• Handling an interview well
• Feeling good about yourself
• Giving a powerful presentation
• First impressions
to name but a few!
That’s why I think it is essential to consciously address this limitation. To help my clients give a powerful account of themselves I have come up with the Focused Personal Brand!
When you want to influence people, which is most of the time, you need to know
where you are coming from and why. Do this and your message has an authentic ring
that engages your audience. You also want to deliver your message in a way that speaks to the desires of the listener. The Focused Personal Brand is a structure for authentically bringing together, all the aspects of the argument you want to present, filtered through your knowledge of what is important to your audience. The benefit is a more balanced and informative conversation for both parties.
How it works
Let me talk you through the Focused Personal Brand we produced for a Propertty professional who wanted to apply for partnership in her firm.
The Focused Personal Brand is the second stage in a process which began with my client understanding and owning who she is, her Intuitive Personal Brand*, an affirming and energising experience of self recognition using my own set of images to trigger a memorable conversation about why she is important. The result is a headline that engenders instant empowerment. Her Intuititive Personal Brand was: A well informed negotiator fascinated by people's stories, cutting through complexity to offer creative and tactical solutions. See video below
The power of 'getting' who she can't help being, generated by this exercise ,is tangible and feeds into the authenticity of the message she wants to impart.
How to build a Focused Personal Brand
Let me take you through an example:
My clients Intuitive Personal Brand was: A self-contained and positive force to be reckoned with, getting results through appreciative connection and a powerful intellect’.
NB: This was not necessarily for the consumption of the interview panel, it served only as a reminder to her of the images she selected and what they meant to her. It is however the driving force that informs her decisions and actions
The Structure of The Focused Personal Brand
The images then made up the background to the Focused brand was a constant reminder of who she was.
Many women feel uncertain when asked to stand out in a male defined environment. They are conscious they are not as familiar with the rules of play as are their male colleagues. The research I have done about what makes women successful suggests that it is the women who trust that their signature approach is the best way to solve a problem and the one they are best at. So it makes sense to put a reminder of their unique and powerful gifts at the centre of the structure since it is part of every answer she gives and question she asks.
The Intuitive Personal Brand is only a prompt reminding her of who she, so after some discussion we shortened it to: A knowledgeable negotiator who understands the bigger picture. A statement that draws on who she is but describes it in a way that fits with what is important to the firm.
With this clear identity mentally fixed, every question responded to was inevitably informed by it, as opposed to being distracted by trying to get it right for them. Who she is doesn't change, it's only by fully being that person she will become the resourceful person they want.
Each section of the structure provides the key massages you want to give in this specific set of circumstances. Although she is the same person in different interviews, each conversation is different because everything occurs within the context of that particular conversation. Each interview is conducted by different people, from a different company, with a different history and a different set of of unfolding circumstances. The Focused Brand helps capture your interview strategy appropriate to this situation now, providing an elegant crib sheet that is easy to remember and, in every question and response, confirms who you are, giving you more confidence and greater impact.
To guide her in her approach to the interview, as well as knowing who she is, my client needed to have a story about herself that gave a glimpse of her genius. She was concerned about comments colleagues had made about her lack of gravitas suggesting that perhaps she wasn't ready to become a partner. Her anxiety about being judged as too young was getting in the way of thinking calmly about what she brings and what difference it makes.
"Getting' that she is a knowledgeable negotiator who understands the bigger picture helped her strategic ambition to become a central london expert.
As we worked through the questions she thought they would ask and should be interested in and considered the questions that were important to her she began to feel grounded and in control. The Focused Personal Brand structure had an authentic ring for her so she was quite happy to talk about it in these terms!
This is about what only you can contribute. This may or may not have been of interest to the company but ultimately, it had to be real for her so she could communicate it convincingly. Again she drew on who she was, creating a list of bullet points on her structure that would trigger appropriate answers to their questions. In outlining her abilities, she reminded herself of appropriate examples of her contributions, explaining both the soft and hard value she provided. The preparation for presenting her own qualities also required her to do some homework on the interviewers, the company and the market place. She was then in a position to give the information she realised they would be interested in.
This refers to the need to balance the conversation by asking the interviewer/s to help her understand what the company thought she might be able to contribute when they expressed an interest. We women often forget that interviews are a conversation, not just a one sided box ticking activity. You are exploring the fit from both sides so each will have pertinent questions to ask and be answered.
The bigger picture
This is about being able to demonstrate and use your understanding of the firm’s bigger picture. Here my client had a perfect opportunity to showcase her knowledge by commenting on the company's strategy in the market place, discussing trends and asking pertinent questions.
This was a reminder of the need ask and have your questions answered: Start dates, salary, leadership team, expectations, what made them want to interview you, how do they see you fitting in, is this a new role etc. My client had questions about how they saw her role developing in the future.
Every Focused Personal Brand is different. It might have more than 5 sections. It can include things like great responses to questions you dread, or technical questions, or refer to your thoughts on a current controversial company issue in the news. The Focused Brand is a composite of the process described above - your interview strategy informed by your own identity and ideas, in the format pictured below.
The conversation that created my client’s Focused Personal Brand, made her consciously think about who she is, the value she provides and what fit this may be with the company in question. At the end of this process she was able to see the interview as just a conversation between herself and the company. Both had boxes to tick, they had questions for her about how she could contribute and as a unique contributor, she had questions for them about what they expected and how they could satisfy her need for new challenges.
*To find out more about Intuitive Personal Brands: https://joella-