I recently heard one of those “What is this world coming to?” stories. A friend’s husband commutes to work in NYC by train and has trouble finding a place to stand, and forget about sitting. Turns out that commuters on his rush hour train mark their territory by reserving their little patch of floor to stand on. And God help anyone who takes their space.
It all makes sense in a peculiar way. Everyone wants to carve out their own little space. Unfortunately, when done at the expense of others, it’s simply rude, not just territorial.
All of which has application for personal branding. How do we put our stamp of individuality on what we do and carve out our own territory without putting barriers around ourselves?
As personal branders we need to clearly define what sets us apart. It can be a flair for numbers or efficiency or teamwork or sociability to name just a handful of characteristics. Ultimately, it’s anything that makes us special and gives us an edge so we’re not just clones of one another trying frantically to keep up with our colleagues.
Our brand is our personal signature. However, if we’re going to move beyond being “train territory marketers,” we need not only to define ourselves but also determine how we relate to others. Our personal brand is only powerful if it has the ability to engage others and add value for other people. It can’t be so different that it ropes us off.
Barak Obama, regardless of what you think of his politics, understands the need for inclusion by talking about his supporters’ “taking a journey to take our country back and change the fundamental nature of our politics.” He’s inviting everyone to be part of his public journey.
Obviously, we in our workaday lives don’t need to engage a nation, just the people we touch — or want to touch.
Is your personal brand implicitly or explicitly inviting people to engage you? Are you making yourself available to people? Do others know they can count on you?
.Wendy Marx • Public Relations/Marketing Communications • President, Marx Communications, Inc. email@example.com