If the world’s best universities today aim to train entrepreneurs rather than managers, there must be a reason. The future of our economies will increasingly be entrusted to individual initiative. Ideas connected with a ‘permanent job’ and ‘guaranteed salary’ must be replaced by more dynamic concepts. Given that the desire for economic security, linked to the instinct of survival, is innate in human beings, how can we protect ourselves in a scenario that upsets the traditional idea of work? By developing and claiming our own Personal Branding!
Whether you’re a freelancer, employee, manager or entrepreneur, if you wish to feel secure and confident that you are working towards an economically rosy future, you will have to rely not only on your professionalism but also on the reputation and recognition you create for yourself.
Much has been written on the subject of personal branding; I want to give you a summary of what we have learnt personally while working and studying. Firstly, however, I must make it quite clear that Alice and I make no distinction between your personal and professional image. We are convinced that there can be no difference between ‘who you are’ and ‘what you do’, because it is this alignment that provides the basis for a solid reputation. Too often on social profiles, websites, or more generally in communications from companies and professionals, words like ‘quality’, ‘service excellence’, ‘customer focus’, ‘professional’ or ‘value for money’ are bandied about, along with other generic expressions that are completely meaningless when the desire is to ensure differentiation and recognition. Clients are not looking for perfection but for truth and sincerity, and this means showing yourself as you really are.
Building a support network, made up of clients and colleagues, is necessary to reinforce your image and support your reputation. Our strategy can be summed up as adopting a ‘giving’ behaviour. Give away (yes, you read that correctly) some of your time to those who deserve it and will benefit from it, but do not necessarily expect a direct and immediate return. Many negotiations, as well as many professional and personal relationships, fail precisely because people seek immediate results. If you have managed to create sincere bonds based on shared values, you will naturally attract people into your network who resemble you, and their behaviour will be a better recommendation than any communication tool.
Target all investments in communication to ensure you demonstrate your personal and professional originality. Highlight the part of your offer that will never be replicable, i.e. yourself. What customers will actually be purchasing are your values, ideas, vision and goals if they recognize that these contain a project that involves them emotionally and arouses their own passions. As the well-known Italian science journalist, Piero Angela says, ‘interesting content needs good packaging’. We advise you be careful when considering the form, whether for an interview, a meeting, a presentation or your company profile. Never overlook an opportunity to be authentic and clearly recognizable.
No path will always be easy and straightforward; decisions are not painless and there is a price to pay for freedom. What we have learned is that even in hard times it pays dividends if you remain optimistic and friendly. Kindness is not only a style but also a tactical approach that enables you and others to remain serene. When speaking of style, we advise you work to develop your own by respecting what you are, and not only what the market requires. The only essential ingredients when concocting your Personal Branding are a smiling face and punctuality. Simple details that communicate respect and will make a difference.
When developing your own personal branding it is useful to think about the principles and objectives around which you centre your life, trying to restructure them more effectively. For example, if we reflect on the concept of economic security or survival, in whose name we often justify professional choices that fail to reflect our real identity and may therefore damage our image, we should remember that the word ‘survival’ suggests more than simply living, but rather indicates going beyond existence and hence innovating and improving. When faced with a professional choice of compromise, ask yourself if you are really ensuring your survival or if instead you are weakening your personal branding and thus abandoning the very security you wish to achieve. Investing in your own identity is actually the most effective way to ensure a happy future.
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