On the surface, nothing appears to be more intimate, highly idiosyncratic, essentially non-transferable, and inimitable than building and developing our personal brands. Most of us set out to become the next hired graduate, model employee, successful entrepreneur, influential politician, respected community leader or celebrated sportsperson based upon the deeply-held belief that we can leave our distinct imprint in our chosen field, and be remembered as unique individuals who left behind an indelible mark as well as a meaningful contribution. And there is absolutely nothing wrong with that kind of positive ambition: an ambition that – when informed by an unflinching commitment to values and the pursuit of the common good in all of our endeavors – can fuel our personal brands all the way to the top.
The tactics we use to reach our goals
Unfortunately, the tactics to reach these worthy goals is where most personal branders flounder. This happens because – at least at a subconscious level – many equate a unique personal brand with a unique personal branding strategy. And by doing so, they at best waste precious time and resources by unnecessarily seeking to ‘reinvent the wheel’ and at worst risk choosing the wrong path altogether in the successful development of their personal brands. Both are costly mistakes that we can ill afford, especially in our current global crisis predicament. Luckily there is a way to avoid this common trap that, thanks to novel technologies like online influence measurers, is more readily available than ever: I am referring of course to role-modeling.
The power of role-modeling when correctly understood and executed is simply amazing. And luckily for us, the fact that (at least in the online medium) we can zero in on relevant role-models in specific areas or spheres of influence determined by keyword who are already achieving the results we are seeking to replicate with a high degree of accuracy makes role-modeling a compelling and necessary addition to any worthy personal branding strategy – most especially at the start of your personal branding journey.
To implement a coherent and rewarding role-modeling philosophy we should follow a fourfold process:
1) Find those who are already achieving the results you are looking for in your chosen field and whose success you seek to emulate. If necessary, use an app like Klout to find top influencers in a given topic, as the example of Personal Branding with our dear Dan Schawbel and Nance Rosen at the top of the list proves.
2) Commit yourself to study everything about their online and offline strategies, their biographies, their personal stories, and how they made it to the top. Pay special attention to aspects such as their blend of talent and skills, their social media profiles, and of course any material written or otherwise created by them. Seek to establish why they are liked and admired, and find common threads amongst the multifarious individuals you submit to your scrutiny
3) Actively learn from their mistakes. It should hardly come as a surprise to you to know that some of the most revered names in the business have made blunders (this especially applies to trailblazers and pioneers) through a trial and error process that there is no need for you to repeat. This is crucially important if you are to achieve worthy goals in record time, since some personal branding mistakes can set you back months if not years (not taking care of your digital footprint is a most relevant example)
4) Armed with the wealth of data you will have carefully compiled and reviewed, ask yourself how you can make full use of so much valuable information while remaining true to yourself, not becoming a copycat, and adding your own personal touch to your brand. This is perhaps the hardest part for lazy souls not given to introspection of self-reflection, and those whom have heavily invested in our ‘celebrity’ culture. Much of what we can and will learn, from relevant figures in our businesses, are not always identical in circumstances, and we need to adapt principles and philosophies to our specific milieus. And this is where your creativity will be called to shine.
I invite you to boost your personal brand through the clever and determined use of the amazing power of role-modeling. Needless to say, my advice is not just to emulate the most successful examples in your field but above all the good – and these two often go together.
For as the father of Greek philosophy Socrates reminded us more than 2,500 years ago: ‘All human souls are immortal, but the souls of the good are immortal and divine’.