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Posted: November 02, 2011

Personal branding starts with you

Reputation as a critical innovation tool

Lida Citro├źn

When we think of key business innovation tools, we often think of technology solutions, synergistic partners, creative financing and slick marketing strategies. Many professionals do not consider the impact of their brand or reputation as an innovative influence on business growth and sustainability.

Your personal and business reputation is what others think of you.

Other people form impressions of you that impact the value they assign to you. That can have a significant correlation to whether they choose to do business with you.

Do your clients consider you trustworthy, exclusive and an expert in your field? Or, do they see you as difficult to deal with, and non-responsive?

Perception impacts your reputation. And the impact of reputation to your career and business is significant!

Perception is reality in the minds of your clients, prospects, colleagues and other stakeholders. Managing and directing that perception and building your reputation could ultimately be the most critical innovation tool you put in your tool bag.

Business schools taught us to capture the attention of target audiences with compelling and relevant messaging. Professionals often understand the importance of differentiation, value and competitive advantage. And successful executives across the globe are also embracing the power of "personal branding" to intentionally build a reputation for themselves and their companies that maintains this competitive advantage - in person, through experience, and in the online world.

What is personal branding?
Everyone has a personal brand. It is your reputation or what others use to assign value and relevance to you. A brand is an emotional connection you have with others and it sets the expectation of an experience of working with you.

Your personal brand already exists. As people have experienced being with you and observing your behavior over time, you have earned a reputation. For some, your reputation may be inconsistent with how you believe you are, and how you want to be perceived. And that can be a major constraint on your personal and professional growth.

Consider this: We hire attorneys, accountants, consultants and experts not just based on qualifications, but also on how comfortable they make us feel.

It has been said that "We act on logic... and we buy on emotion." I might seek an attorney who is a pit bull in the courtroom, but also makes me feel safe when I ask a dumb question. I might solicit an accountant who is expert at tax structure, but also makes me feel validated that I'm on the right track with my business.

Personal branding starts with you

Personal branding is not spin or "PR." Personal branding does not make you into something you're not. It begins by understanding what you are passionate about, what you value and how you live an authentic life. What would you fight for? The personal branding process starts with your values and your goals.

Professionals with strong personal brands show up consistently and authentically. They have achieved genuineness through confidence and experience, and through focus and care. They don't try to please everyone, win every client and satisfy every customer's needs. They focus on the highest value they have to offer and target a specific audience with the lowest threshold.

You can begin to create power and relevance in your personal brand. In every action you take (from posting on LinkedIn, to participating at a networking event, to dressing for a presentation) consider how others could perceive you. How others feel about you will impact whether or not they assign value to you. Become intentional about the words you choose, the company you keep and the way you represent yourself. Your audience is looking for consistency and relevancy.

In short, consider how you want to be perceived, the reputation you want in the world, then intentionally create a path in that direction.

Reputation management differentiates you from your competition, attracts opportunities to you and enables you to receive recognition for your accomplishments. And personal branding can bring you benefits over your entire life, both personally and professionally.




Lida Citroën is the author of Your Next Mission: A personal branding guide for the military-to-civilian transition and Principal of LIDA360, a consulting firm that helps create effective market positioning through the use of brand strategies. She regularly presents at conferences, events and programs, teaching transitioning veterans how to understand their unique value and market them to future employers.

Citroën is an active member of Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve (ESGR) and works closely with General Peter Pace’s program in Philadelphia, Wall Street Warfighters Foundation (WSWF). For more information, please visit,  and connect with her on twitter, @LIDA360.

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