santa list

Every year, around this time, without fail, the subject of lists seems to roll around.

Gift lists, wish lists, shopping lists, and of course, the ever-popular Naughty-or-Nice List. And if you’re not hard at work on one of those, you’d better keep an eye on the calendar (and the clock!) because no matter what day you read this…it’s later than you think.

Well, you know what ELSE is a list?

Your personal brand.

Your personal brand is a list of attributes, characteristics, and human qualities that defines who you are in the minds of others. And although your personal brand is not as easy to build as a holiday wish list is. It’s something that’s solely in your hands…and something you can fine-tune a little more each and every day.

An exercise I often do with my workshop participants is to ask them: “What are the five words you want people to think of when they hear your name?” And the answers are usually a short list of very, very important things.

Well, depending on what’s on your personal brand list–and what’s NOT on it–you may or may not be leaving the legacy you want to create in your personal and professional lives.

3 Ways to Get your Personal Brand on the Nice List

So, how can you ensure your personal brand ends up on the Nice List? First, try that exercise I mentioned a little earlier. Write down the five words you want people to think of when they hear your name. Next, although this may be a little tougher, when you write down those five words, make an honest assessment of whether people do think of those words. And last–here’s the toughest part–think about how you can shift peoples’ current perceptions of you to those five words you desire.

Here are a few ideas to help ensure your personal brand is on the nice list this year:

  1. Have a plan. Focus on those desired traits and characteristics, and WORK on them. If it means getting additional training and coaching, then go for it! If it means becoming more friendly, or more focused, or just being able to speak in public without breaking into a cold sweat, you can work toward those, too. There are dozens of books, videos, and human advisors out there who can help you along.

    But the key is to take a strategic and proactive approach to your personal improvement—which in turn will absolutely improve your personal brand.
  2. Be authentic. Is your desired personal brand really something you can achieve? Will it ever be who you are, regardless of how much effort you put into it?

    Maybe you’d love to be known as “The Excel-erator”…someone who can whip up a spreadsheet about anything, anytime, anywhere. But no matter how much practice you put in, there are certain limitations you simply can’t get past. (Like maybe you and Excel are just not good friends!) And if your desired personal brand is still to be “The Excel-erator” well, it’s a nice dream, but it’s just not authentic to who you are.

    Let’s try one a little closer to home. Maybe you’re an excellent bookkeeper, but you’d rather be seen as a rollicking jokester capable of keeping an audience in stitches. Your sense of humor, however, is not your best attribute. Open mike night is full of these folks, and despite their best intentions, their goals are simply not authentic to who they are.

    Be aspirational in your personal branding targets, but keep it real and stay true to yourself.
  3. Build trust in your brand. Once you become aware of your personal brand, it’s something you want to always keep in focus. In a recent study, 70% of consumers agreed that their trust in a brand is more important now than ever before.  A personal brand comes from extended time spent engaged in behavior consistent with your desired qualities. And that consistency will build trust among those around you.

Building and maintaining your brand

BUT….it won’t happen without reinforcing your brand every day. If your personal brand is truly authentic and plays off your strengths, this won’t be too difficult; in fact, it should come pretty naturally.

However, if your desired personal brand is being a “nice person,” you’d better keep that in mind in stressful situations. A colleague of mine was known for being a kind, gentle and laid-back presence in his workplace. But on the freeway, his natural impatience would often get the best of him. He’d frequently express his…displeasure…to his fellow motorists.

Fortunately, those two worlds rarely intersected. Until the day he aggressively sped around and cut off a slow-moving vehicle in his lane. It turned out to be driven by his board chairman. And when their eyes locked on that busy freeway, trust in his hard-earned personal brand took a hit.

Building–and maintaining–trust in your personal brand is one of the surest ways to keep you on the Nice List…and losing that trust is something you don’t want to risk.

Keep that in mind this holiday season, and always remember that your personal brand is the gift you leave for the world. Make sure it’s the gift you truly want to give. Do that, and you’re well on your way to…GROW BIG!