If you got fired today, will you have developed a personal brand besides the identity of your position in the office?
If you were to lose your job today what would happen? A few months ago this might have seemed a mere hypothetical question, but the reality of the times is that it has happened to many people and will continue to happen for some time to come.
A while back, I wrote about a well-known woman who was featured in many society pages and television shows. When she tweeted, hundreds retweeted. When she posted on Instagram, hundreds were quick to like and comment on. Everything she did was celebrated by her numerous followers and admirers. Her phone rang nonstop and she had a long line up of assistants.
Then the unthinkable happened. She lost her job. The first thing she noticed was that her phone stopped ringing. The next thing no one asked for her views like before. Her phone also stopped ringing and her calls were either ignored or the polite ones would send messages promising to call back soon.
She saw firsthand what life is like when you are totally dependent on the power of your corporate brand. This is the case for so many people today.
Let us imagine that you just got fired and you had not developed a personal brand besides the identity of your position in the office. Where do you start? The great news is that there is no one whose situation is so bad that it can’t be revived.
The first thing you need to do is come to terms with the reality that you now have to discover your personal brand and build on it. How do you do this? One fundamental thing that you need to remember is that your brand is not who you say you are. It is who people say you are.
You may think that you are communicating something and yet the message is totally different from what you thought you were sending out. People will form perceptions about you based on the signals that you convey. These signals could be verbal or nonverbal.
For nearly 10 years, I have not worn a suit. I have only put on my traditional Nigerian attire. One day, I was at the airport, going through security. On the queue was a little white boy with his mother. From their accent, I could tell they were Americans. The little boy tapped his mother and pointed at me and said, “Look mum, a Muslim.”
I smiled and said, "A Nigerian."
The mother blushed and apologised. There was, however, nothing to apologise for. Based on where they were from, anyone who wore long flowing robes and had a cap on was seen as a Muslim. I had been profiled without saying one word.
Now, whether you like it or not, people do the same thing to you and so it is important you become deliberate in how you want to be perceived.
Secondly, you need to do an inventory of what exactly it is that you are bringing to the table. It could be skills or networks. This is why it is important to pay attention to what you get complimented for the most. That is a good indicator of how people perceive you.
Once you have identified this, the next thing to do is get it out there. You need to project what you offer the world. Fortunately, we now live in a world where with little or no expense, you can do this. If you are truly good at what you claim, if what you bring to the table is real and not perceived and if it adds value then you are marketable.
Wale Akinyemi is the chief transformation officer, PowerTalks