People have spent an awful lot of time working on “developing your personal brand”, from branding kits to webinars to books to flavor of the month social network profile configurations. At the end of the day, however, brand is more about a cumulative effect of impressions left on someone than a carefully tailored headshot or witty profile biography.
If you know what you want your personal brand to be, then I have a challenge for you. Write down your personal brand and a few words that you think you use routinely to reinforce your brand. For example, my personal brand revolves around online marketing. I would expect words like social media, marketing, email marketing, and their like to be common in my speech, in the words I use, to reinforce that brand.
Let’s see if reality matches our self-perception. First, using any Twitter archiving tool of choice, look at your recent tweets. I use the self-hosted version of Twapper Keeper, but you can use ThinkUp or any of the archiving services available. Take the largest body of your own tweets that you can get a hold of – I picked the most recent 10,000. Clean up any obvious garbage in them using your favorite text editor, then feed them to Wordle.net. See if the word cloud that appears reflects the perception you are trying to create.
So far, so good. Next, if you use WordPress, look for the free Export to Text plugin in the Codex. Install it on your blog, and then export the last 6 months of blog posts to an Excel spreadsheet. Again, clean out any garbage using your favorite text editor, like HTML, then feed that to Wordle.
Again, things are looking good. The words I use in my tweets and in my blog posts are reflective of my personal brand, of who I think I am, and of who I would like the world to think I am.
What if your reality doesn’t match your self-perception? What if your words tell a completely different story? You have two basic choices: you can either change your personal brand to match your words, or change your words to match your personal brand. That choice largely boils down to the words that you’re using.
For example, if you find that the vast majority of the words you’re using are fluffy, unimportant drivel or endless social media complaints, you might want to focus on changing your words. Pick something to stand for rather than fight against and work at being cautious in your speech. Choose your words carefully. You’ll find that in addition to enhancing your personal brand, you’ll also refocus your mind and how you think about the world in a more productive light.
If the words you’re using are focused but not on your personal brand, it might be time to re-evaluate your personal brand. If you think your personal brand is about web analytics but the vast majority of your words are about charitable causes, you might be getting a message from your subconscious that you’ve got the wrong brand and focus. Time to take another look in the mirror.
The tools we have at our disposal today to analyze our words give us greater powers of self-insight than ever before. Make use of them to improve your personal brand and yourself!
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