You entered the educational field for many reasons. Maybe you are passionate about working with children. Perhaps a great teacher inspired you. Maybe you want to influence the next generation of leaders. Whatever your motivation, you focus on your craft, your skill and your profession. You don’t likely focus on your reputation.
Your reputation is what others think of you. As you interact with fellow educators, students, parents, administrators, your community and other colleagues, they form perceptions of you (your reputation) that impact the value they assign you. That reputation can have a significant correlation to whether or not others want to engage you in the kinds of opportunities and activities you are looking to be involved in.
Perception is reality in the minds of your parents, students, prospects, colleagues, and other stakeholders. Managing and directing that perception and building your legacy could be the most critical tool in your professional tool bag.
What is personal branding?
In my book, “Reputation 360: Creating power through personal branding” I offer this definition:
A brand needs to represent a set of values, promises and expectations and meet those expectations at nearly every step. Branding gives experience to something intangible; it gives names to the qualities I feel when I work or interact with you.
Everyone has a personal brand. It is your reputation and what others use to assign value and relevance to you. A brand is an emotional connection you have with others, and it sets the expectation of an experience of working with you.
Personal branding starts with you
Personal branding begins by understanding what you are passionate about, what you value and how you live an authentic life – what sets you apart?
As you begin to define and build your personal brand, look inside first. Ask yourself:
Understand the needs of your audience
It is critical that you understand to whom you are positioning your personal brand: your target audience. Your audience holds the opportunities you desire, such as a career promotion or the opportunity to teach at desired institutions. Targeting those audiences and stakeholders who will find you relevant is critical, cuts down on your branding efforts, and makes your “self-promotion” feel more focused.
Create a powerful reputation
It may feel awkward to approach your interactions (in person and online) as part of a reputation strategy. Educators are often not sidetracked with self-promotion. The goal of personal branding is not to brag about yourself but rather to become very intentional about the words you choose, the company you keep and the way you represent yourself to your target audience.
Your reputation… online
Today it seems everyone has a Facebook page, Google+ and Twitter account, LinkedIn profile and he or she blogs incessantly. Should you?
For most of us, social networking plays an important role in building our reputation. Today’s social networking platforms offer the ability to connect with colleagues, parents, thought leaders and other influencers in the profession, to research, collaborate and grow our visibility.
In every action you take online (from posting an update on LinkedIn, to participating in a group on Facebook, to posting a YouTube video explaining a complex algebraic theory your class is struggling with), consider how others will perceive you. Become intentional about the words you choose, the way you communicate and engage others, and how you represent yourself consistently with your values.
Build a strategy for social networking:
In choosing to engage with your current and prospective audiences online, consider these points first:
When building your personal brand – your digital legacy – you control much of the perception others will have of you. As you approach your behavior and interactions with strategy and intention, others begin to recognize your value and relevancy.
Lida Citroën is an international branding and reputation management specialist who enhances the identities of companies, executives and individuals globally. As principal and founder of LIDA360, LLC, she practices an integrated approach to branding, marketing and communications that enhances the total experience and reduces the investment for success.
An accomplished speaker, Lida engages audiences with her empowering message about managing your personal brand and reputation. Lida presents programs for school districts, corporations for non-profit organizations around the U.S. Lida is the author of Reputation 360: Creating Power Through Personal Branding, (Palisades Publishing, 2011) is a best-selling guide to gaining competitive advantage through reputation management.