Monday, February 24, 2014

Personal Branding: The other side wants to get to know you

On Friday I was honored to be a speaker at TEDxAmmon. As excited as I was to be part of this inaugural event, at the same time I was petrified.

There shouldn’t have been any reason to be nervous. I was familiar with my topic and had done preparation, research and countless hours of practice. I have been doing public speaking since my preteen years.

This was different, though.  I knew there would be more than 100 people in attendance, a live streaming feed, and within a few weeks a YouTube video. I sat nervously at my table waiting for the event to start, heart racing, reviewing notes, watching my Prezi presentation on my laptop, and praying (oh man, was I praying!) All I could think was if I didn’t completely nail this presentation,  professionally I was toast and probably my business, too.

With about 20 minutes to spare before the event, I made the decision to give up. That’s right – I gave up.

You see, I was so focused on being poised, serious, convincing, well-spoken and rehearsed that I wasn’t focused on what the foundation of the presentation was: personal brands – more specifically my personal brand. When I realized I had lost touch of that I decided to let go of everything that was inhibiting me. I covered my notes, closed my computer, took a deep breath and just prepared to be me. Instead of presenting, I decided to talk to my audience and share my story.

Guess what?  It worked! I was still nervous when I gave my presentation, but the basis of the presentation had my personal brand and the “me” factor written all over it. You see, the presentation itself wasn’t just a presentation but a clear demonstration in real time of the impact personal branding has had on our society. In this case I was the the test subject.

Quite a few people thanked me for my presentation and insight, and some told me I'd moved them to tears. This was what I had wanted, and it wouldn’t have happened if I hadn’t let go.

Both personally and professionally, our society is demanding a more personal view of who each of us are. I am not saying that if you walk into an interview I expect you to share every intimate detail of your life story. But I do expect you to share who you are. Your knowledge, experience and career history are important to me, but your personality traits and life experiences mean even more because I want to make sure you are not just a good fit for my clients but the best fit.

How does one create an effective personal brand? As with Friday’s presentation there’s more to the story than we can focus on this week. Next week I'll be focusing on Creating “You” as a Brand.