It’s no coincidence that effective personal branding has a lot in common with Goleman’s two cornerstones of looking within and having a clear-eyed view of how the world perceives you. The first step in the personal branding process, whether I’m working with a corporation or an individual, is to uncover brand authenticity. It’s a highly introspective activity.
That means taking the time to unearth strengths, values, passions and unique personality characteristics. The introspection if followed by a process of gathering feedback from others who touch you in different capacities to form a true 360-degree portrait. This external portrait augments the results of your self discovery and is used to validate what you learn introspectively.
If branding were simply about communicating what you do and what you know, you would have a very hard time differentiating yourself in the marketplace. Ignoring the self-discovery process and emphasizing hard skills is the fastest way to become a mere commodity who can only attract business by offering the lowest price. In this case, your career is transactional, not relational.
The three-step process for successful branding requires emotional intelligence at every stage:
Know – uncover your brand by developing a clear understanding of your authenticity, differentiation and relevance. What you “do” is only part of the equation. How do you feel about what you do? How do others feel about it? What emotions are associated with your brand? You don’t have to be a hugger to build a successful brand, but you do need to get in touch with the non-technical traits that make you who you really are. Are you the Gordon Ramsay of your industry—hot tempered but passionate about excellence? Or are you on the Deepak Chopra end of the spectrum—the person in the board room who delivers wisdom and serenity, no matter how heated the discussion gets?
Show – build the tools to tell the world who you really are (both in heart and in mind), what you do, and the value you create for your fellow human beings. Zaha Hadid, the spectacularly talented international architect, devoted her career to creating designs that showcased a range of emotions, including a sense of wonder and whimsy. If your work doesn’t produce such tangible results, you can still find creative ways to communicate the value you deliver. Storytelling and testimonials can capture abstract concepts such as trust, gratitude, exhilaration, and triumph.
The link between emotional intelligence and successful personal branding is clear. Take the time to add emotional lines of inquiry to your brand discovery efforts. And give yourself permission to integrate emotion into what you do and how you do it. You’re not a robot, and neither are your stakeholders.
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