In several blog posts I’ve talked about the importance of personal branding. Your brand is key to success in every area of your life. It requires consistency and self respect.
But sometimes you can put your personal brand at risk without realizing it. Especially during any vulnerable point in your career. This can include a downsize or layoff, a slow start to a new business venture, or any other unanticipated time when there’s financial instability.
There is the temptation to take just any job or client that comes along. During the slow times of the year I personally face the temptation of taking on projects or clients I know are against my better judgment. Luckily with practice I’ve gotten better at resisting such temptation.
Other examples of putting your brand at risk include: saying “yes” to every opportunity, giving away your skills and talent for “exposure,” and taking jobs you’re overqualified for in the hopes of just getting a foot in the door with a certain company or industry.
However, you must keep in mind your career choices, just like your personal choices, reflect on you as a person. (And your business if you’re a business owner.)
Don’t Give Away Your Name
Well-known personal development and entrepreneurship blogger Tim Denning explains this in his post entitled “Don’t Put Your Name On Anything That Makes You Look Cheap“.
He shares examples of how easy it is to make this mistake, such as accepting a job or project that goes against everything you believe in. He refers to this as “giving your name away”. I’ve seen this happen with people who take a job just for the money or out of fear.
If you do any of the above (i.e. agree to do a project for free or cheap, settle for a less than ideal job, etc.), then people expect you to continue doing so. Therefore, it becomes harder down the road to ask for what you’re really worth. This includes not just money, but also time and respect.
The point Denning drives home is this:
“Stop saying yes to everything!”
This doesn’t mean you say no to everything, but just to the things putting your personal brand at risk.
How to Say “No”
Saying “no” may sound very difficult to do, especially for people-pleasers.
However there is a way to stop saying yes to everything and to learn how and when to say no. It all starts with a mission. Your mission is the foundational piece to your personal brand.
What is your mission you want to accomplish in life and why? It’s necessary to have a deep knowledge of your mission if your goal is to take responsibility for and ownership of your life’s purpose.
A personal mission statement of how you want to use your talents to accomplish your vision and goals serves as a filter in making important decisions. You use it to filter out the opportunities that don’t support your mission statement. As a result, you know which opportunities to say “no” to.
The opportunities that support your mission statement or get you one step closer to your vision are the ones you can say “yes” to.
How to Write Your Own Mission Statement
Since your mission statement helps you better discern opportunities, it’s important to put some thought into it. Writing one is more of a process than just jotting down some pithy statement in two minutes.
You should take into account all your strengths, limitations, unique differentiators, potential audience, and more. Think about the following things:
- Who are your various audiences? I use the plural form of audience here because you’ll have more than one audience for each endeavor.
- What is your audiences’ biggest challenge or problem they face?
- How do your unique strengths and skills solve your audiences’ problem?
- What are the additional benefits of your skills for your various audiences?
Protect Your Personal Brand
Having a mission statement is just one piece of your personal brand. In order to protect your personal brand from bad choices, you must have a clear understanding of what your brand is.
What do others think of when they think of you and your work ethic? Are those the things you want people to think about you? Or is there another message you want to convey through your goals and mission?
To gain control of your brand and to build one that’s strong and will take you where you want to go, check out my latest book, Personal Branding: Why You Need to Know What Makes You YOUnique and AWEthentic. It will give you all the tools you need to attract the opportunities you’ll want to say “YES!” to.