If you're not in the business of working for yourself, you might think that your personal brand has no relevance in the workplace. You might have even been outright TOLD that by a manager or co-worker at some point in your career.
But I'm here to tell you that's not true.
Personal brands, and people living authentically into their personal brands, make for employee contributions that are not only meaningful for the individual, but are also the MOST meaningful to their employer.
Not sure how that works?
Keep reading to explore how personal brands are the biggest contributor to digital influence ????
If the end goal is the creation of digital influence, let's start there and understand what that actually means.
Influence, at the end of the day, is about getting people to DO something. Merriam-Webster uses a great definition:
I specifically love the second bit related to causing changes without directly forcing those changes to happen. Why is this important? Because no one human can FORCE another human to do a thing. Especially in the marketing and sales arena.
And I would go as far as to say, if you TRY to force any of these things, you're just going to get an even harder NO.
So, we're here to influence people to do a thing by interacting with them in the online space.
So the next step is to look at what actually causes influence to exist in a relationship.
In an article written by Martin Zwilling for Inc., he talks about 5 Key Drivers of Influence. The article specifically speaks to using that influence to improve your power of business persuasion, but I would be wary of that.
If your intention is to persuade people to do the things listed above, you may miss out on choosing the right people. Not everyone can be persuaded to interact with your business. And nor should they. I remember the backlogs of Peloton deliveries when the Covid-19 pandemic hit...can you imagine how much worse it would have been if everyone in the entire WORLD had ordered a Peloton.
Your company's product or service is NOT right for everyone. Being strategically influential is about connecting with the RIGHT people, not convincing the WRONG people.
Let's get back to the 5 Drivers of Influence as Inc. sees them.
Credibility: The article specifically speaks to how your personal brand is critical in this arena. The activity of personal branding is all about building relationships and speaking to the things that are meaningful to you. These actions create TRUST, without which credibility does not exist. Plus, when you are actively highlighting your OWN real-world experience, there is a unique lens in which you share your perspectives. That unique lens, and "refreshing content" doesn't exist if everyone is spouting the exact same information about your industry and solutions ???? Emotion: So often we actively try to remove emotion from business. But USING emotion is the thing that allows us to show up as real humans, creating empathy and connection. And who doesn't love a personal story? After all, stories are one of the most powerful marketing tools as they allow other people to put themselves in the shoes of the main character...and the main character is the one who makes all the decisions ???? Logic: Personally, I default to logic often. Even more so when I worked in a corporate environment. So I can share from experience...while logic is a critical component to building influence (people need to feel like you make sense), without the first two, it moves into convincing mode very quickly ???? Timeliness: This is one of the reasons why I hate scripts so much. They totally remove the concept of timeliness in creating influence, which breaks your ability to create REAL influence. There is a skill to be learned here in taking advantage of the perfect moment...of being able to identify when specific words or stories are impactful, and use THAT as your basis to share. Because after all, there is no ONE perfect sentence that will help all people understand what you do in all scenarios ⏱️ Purpose: So often, specifically when we look at sales and marketing activities, we show up to just DO things, and we either don't KNOW the purpose, or we don't take the time to CONNECT to the purpose of the task before we do it. Part of this is related to how we see the work environment (I tell you to do this and you do it), but that culture removes the purpose from anyone DOING the work. And the likelihood of people taking our desired sales and marketing actions if they don't understand our purpose, especially enthusiastically, is pretty much non existent ????
All of these things work TOGETHER to create influence. One doesn't do it alone. So now let's extrapolate each of these and see how personal branding activities influence each.
Let's start with credibility. None of us are credible at all things. We have different areas of expertise. We have different knowledge, different skills, and different experiences; all of which allow us to see the world a particular way. We all also have different areas of curiosity and frustration, which are also critical drivers of how we show up in the world. In order to create credibility, we need to focus on the things that make us unique. Our Personal Brand. Otherwise, we're just working towards someone else's view of what is credible, which will inevitably lead us father away from true credibility.
And how about emotion? Well, all of the emotions we feel are driven by our personal brand stories. They come from how we were raised, our communities, our religions, our core beliefs about people, who we "should be", personal trauma, corporate trauma, societal trauma; I could go on and on. These stories drive our emotions, and we're never without them; no matter how hard we try to leave them at the door. They are a PART of us. And by tapping INTO that (instead of ignoring it), we create the ability to connect with other humans on a completely different level...can you say competitive advantage?
Logic is one that I love to chat about because every single brain in this world works a little bit differently. Whether you identify as neurotypical or neurodiverse (or whether someone else has identified you that way), is irrelevant in this part of the conversation. Logic is based on how your brain works. Some people will understand your logic. Others won't. And again, it's not about convincing other people to believe your logic. It's about SHOWING people YOUR logic so others who "get it" can align themselves with you :)
Now, let's talk timeliness. Tailoring a message to your audience is ALWAYS based on your opinion. You experience people. Hopefully you are listening to them. What you hear, and how your brain processes it, is what indicates to you what is timely. There is no ONE definition of what is best to say at a given moment. It's based on YOU, what you heard, and what YOU think will be the most impactful based on the relationship YOU have with the other person. It's your personal brand coming to life.
And finally, purpose. My friends over at The Passion Centre define Passion as Meaning x Investment, and Purpose as Passion Shared. So, if we use that as a guideline, you don't have purpose without a sense of meaning. And meaning comes from what's meaningful to YOU. Your personal brand. Finding the way that your brand contributes to a larger purpose (such as a company's purpose), is the fastest way to connecting with others on a deeper level when it comes to your work activities.
The fastest way to building digital influence for your brand is to empower your employees in their personal brands. Simple, but not easy.
Most companies have structures in place that either knowingly or unknowingly (mostly the latter) encourage employees to erase their personal brands. But that is NOT in the best interested of your corporate brand.
You may also have employees today who are not at all aligned with your company purpose. Of course that would happen...if you didn't have any intention of hiring for purpose alignment in the first place.
There are some uphill battles to climb.
It might even be Your Everest.
But how might you feel when you reach the summit?
If you're interested in learning more on how to bring personal brands to life in your organization to drive your digital influence, let's chat.