Cultivating a personal brand has become a must in today’s corporate and entrepreneurial world.
It’s no longer enough to simply be your job title—you have to find and develop your specialized niche so that the quality and reputation of your work become synonymous with your name and no one else’s. So what is a personal brand? It’s your authentic core—the part of you that people remember when you leave the room and they way they would describe you if you weren’t there to explain yourself. It’s much more than a gimmick and it’s important to find and enhance your personal brand before others select it for you.
But developing an idea for exactly what this personal brand will be is only the first step. As Dan Couladis, Associate Director, MBA Career Curricula and Communications for The McDonough School of Business at Georgetown University explains in an Ivy Exec exclusive webinar, there are five key behaviors that you must enhance in order to effectively cultivate and maintain your personal brand. They are the five Cs: Competence, Connection, Courage, Character, and Credibility.
“No matter how strong our brand is, if we don’t pay attention to these five Cs on a regular basis, our entire brand could crumble,” Couladis explains. “This is the behavioral piece. The psychological piece is: What’s going to be my brand?…But you have to back it up with these five Cs—they’re how I’m going to be judged on a regular basis.”
If that sounds ambitious, Couladis has some advice for how to strategically incorporate the five Cs into one’s daily behavior. He suggests taking a month to dedicate oneself to each of the five Cs: maybe March is the month to focus on competence while April is the month to rebuild and enhance one’s connections.
So what are the five Cs and how do they relate to your personal brand?
“Competence is my ability to get from Point A to Point B, my passion for results, my accountability in my work,” Couladis says.
He recommends finding areas where you feel you need to grow your competency and focusing on one for a month. For example, maybe you struggle with Microsoft Excel. Rather than continue to let this weakness fester and erode your personal brand among coworkers, Couladis suggests spending a month focusing on developing competence in this area.
“Focus on what you need to do to better yourself and maintain competence,” he says.
Also read: How to Conduct a Personal Brand Audit
“There are many ways you can improve your communication and build on your relationships,” Couladis says.
He gives the example of a manager with a team of 20 people who maybe doesn’t know a handful of his reports very well. This will be the area in which you reach out and connect with them. Improving connection behavior can also include an attempt at bettering your public speaking skills by reaching out to the audience more authentically and purposefully.
With courage, Couladis recommends focusing on both the personal and professional areas in which a person can benefit from a little courage—after all, you don’t want to live your personal brand only in the professional world. You have to be able to live your brand in all of the many spheres of your life.
Focusing on enriching your courageous behavior can include tackling a difficult conversation you’ve been avoiding. It can also include making an effort to participate more in team meetings.
“In thinking about character, think about making small promises and keep them,” Couladis says.
He lists a number of the small, seemingly innocuous promises people make on a daily basis that we tend not to keep: I’ll introduce you to that important executive, I’ll have the report on your desk by the end of the day, Let’s do lunch.
“Doing this a few times with the people in your life is going to show that you can’t keep a promise,” he cautions.
Another major component of character building is a commitment to honesty.
There are several areas in which we tend to lose credibility. For many, this erosion comes when we earn the reputation for distractedly checking our cell phones during meetings.
“Be present and in the moment,” Couladis suggests. “Whether it’s a group meeting or a one-on-one, I’m going to give my full and undivided attention.”
Another area where many people lose credibility is in failing to match their on-stage and offstage personalities.
“Especially senior leaders, they get out on stage and they make this big presentation and everything’s great and they smile—and then they get offstage and they’re yelling in the next meeting,” Couladis says, suggesting that these people live their onstage brand at all times.
People will constantly judge our personal brand based on our commitment to the behaviors in the five Cs.
“People look at these things. All of these Cs are how people are judging you,” Couladis cautions.
No matter how you choose to dedicate yourself to these behaviors, it’s vital that you develop a strategy to enhance your abilities in each of them periodically—and return to each of them over time.
“Decide what the result should be and put behaviors in place to get there,” Couladis says.
By being strategic about your aspirations for your personal brand, you will be better able to develop the behaviors in the five Cs to achieve your goals.