Quick! What comes to mind when I say “Starbucks”?
Coffee? Expensive coffee? Comfy chairs? Green logo?
Big companies like Starbucks or Panera spend millions building their brands. They want you to have a mental picture of their organization the minute their name is mentioned.
Everyone has a personal brand, even you. Whether you know it or not your brand represents what you stand for, your reputation, what you are known for. Your brand exists whether you pay attention or not.
Your personal brand is like that great smell wafting out of the bakery before you even open the door. That great smell is out there based on your reputation, accomplishments and presence. Strengthening and sharing your personal brand helps you get what you want out of life.
Your reputation is one of the few things in life you can sort of control. Why not put a little effort into forming your brand into something you can be proud of?
This kind of self-promotion is harder for shy people. Susan Cain, author of the fine book, Quiet, reminds us that shy and introversion are different. Shy people fear negative judgment while introverts get energy from quiet.
Shy people work quietly to build their reputations but are often fearful to share their results in networking situations. Most efforts to reinforce our personal brands are heavy on networking activities that are harder for shy and introverted folks like me.
If the thought of glad handing at a large networking event sends you screaming to the basement, you are not alone. I’ve run out of my share of networking events. I remember being unable to get out of the car to attend a celebration at my college graduation. It happens to the best of us.
Fortunately, networking is no longer confined to large meetings of anonymous people. There are other things we can do!
Social media takes the fear out of going into a room full of strangers. It is networking for shy people – a great way to quietly spread your personal brand!
Here are some tips for shy people to build a strong personal brand.
First, some homework.
- Decide what you want to be known for. What aspects of yourself do you want to share? How do you want to be known? Work on describing yourself in one sentence.
- Pick a social media platform that fits for you. I use LinkedIn because the people I want to meet also hang out on LinkedIn. If your networking targets are on some other platform, then that is where you should be also.
- Describe yourself in terms that make sense for your career, interests, accomplishments and goals. Use keywords repeatedly to give a consistent picture.
Next, take action.
- Reach out to individuals who can help you grow. Extend invitations to connect one at a time then have email conversations until you feel comfortable enough to meet someone in person. Being prepared with questions that will get the other person talking takes the pressure off of you.
- Respond to every invitation and business card by email if it makes you more comfortable. Make a habit of connecting via social media with a personal message to every business card you pick up. You never know where the right connection comes from.
Even shy people can promote their personal brand. Avoid large networking meetings if that environment makes you uncomfortable. But get out there via mediums you can use quietly to take control of your personal brand.
If you are shy, download The Interview Doctor’s 7 Tips to Career Success for the Shy Person. These tips, based on my own experiences, will help you find the courage to strengthen your personal brand.