In episode 25 of The Nurse Keith Show, I dive deep into the notion of personal/professional branding, and I offer a glimpse into one chapter of my upcoming book, “Savvy Networking for Nurses: Getting Connected (and Staying Connected) in the 21st Century“.
In a book about professional networking, you may be surprised to find a section on personal branding, but branding is fundamentally intrinsic to your networking strategy as a savvy 21st-century professional. Believe me, your personal brand needs and deserves your attention.
We all readily recognize brands in the marketplace without much thought. Patagonia, Apple, Ben and Jerry’s, Newman’s Own, T-Mobile—these are brands that want us to think of them in a specific way, and they present a particular image of themselves through advertisements and other media as they compete for our attention, loyalty, and ultimately, our money.
Our reactions to these brands occur based on a variety of personal beliefs, values, and experiences, and some of our reactions may be quite visceral (and possibly entirely subconscious). Branding is powerful stuff, and there are many people earning a great deal of money because of the allure and influence of brands.
The concept of personal branding may somehow feel manipulative to the uninitiated. You may think about the ways in which you’ve felt misled or deceived by corporate brands that you previously admired, trusted, or patronized, and this is understandable.
So, you may ask, what does branding have to do with you, the professional nurse? My response would be this: “Pretty much everything.”
Do You Have a Brand?
Whether you like it or not, you have a personal brand. Honest. You may not think about it much, but you do. And if the term “brand” just turns your stomach into queasy knots of undigested lunch, try substituting “persona” in place of “brand”, and see if your lunch settles more easily.
In this contemporary world that often appears to be built on image rather than substance, this idea of branding can seem like a concerted push for every professional to become an object, a commodity that’s traded between businesses and employers. This is indeed one perception, but how we approach the notion of our own personal brand is key.
The idea of impression management is often used in social psychology, and we are all indeed constantly trying to manage the impressions that others have of us. Even as children, we try to look cool, and we choose clothes, lunchboxes, and notebooks that will “brand” us in a certain way.
In my book, if your motives are pure and authentic, and you’re not trying to manipulate people in a nefarious manner, your efforts at personal branding safely fall within the realm of normal human impression management, far from anything pathological or manipulative of others.
Your personal brand is what people see and experience. In fact, your brand is in action at every moment of the day, no matter with whom you may be interacting. However, in your professional life and career, this is where your brand really needs to shine.
The form of personal branding that I’m discussing involves exactly what my avowed style of networking entails: authenticity. Yes, you want to be entirely yourself, creating a brand that represents who you are as a person, as a nurse, as a healthcare professional, as a human being—and as a positively contributing citizen of the world.
If you want to project a certain image and persona as a healthcare professional and nurse, consider what you want the perceiver to experience about you. What is the authentic “you” that you wish them to perceive? What will be their take away from having met you? This isn’t manipulation; it’s simply devoting thoughtful consideration to how you are perceived by others, and then “walking your talk” on a daily basis.
FOOD FOR THOUGHT:
- When attending a business meeting or networking event, how do you dress? What does your physical appearance reflect about you?
- Are you conscious of body language and eye contact? Do others feel “seen” by you?
- Is your handshake perceived as sincere and firm?
- Do your colleagues perceive you as anxious, or calm and collected?
- Do you appear organized and well put together?
- How do your voice and manner of speaking represent who you are?
- Do you listen well? Do you interrupt others in mid-sentence? Do those conversing with you feel heard?
- When you describe your professional work and career, what do others hear in your voice? Are you seen as enthusiastic and positive, or pessimistic, cynical, and unhappy?
- If you’re a nurse entrepreneur or businessperson, how do you communicate the essence of what you do, who you are, and what your services and products are?
- When meeting others, are you interested and interesting?
- Do you have a memorable business card in your pocket, handing it out freely to those whom you meet? Do you ask for others’ card, and then follow up in a timely manner?
In the 21st century, many aspects of our lives are now lived online, and you can rest assured that many potential colleagues, collaborators, and employers will Google the heck out of you before that interview or meeting. What will they find? Do you even know? Do you want to know?
When cultivating your online brand, use kindness, generosity, humor, intelligence, and savvy in your communications. Infuse your relationships with sincerity and personality, and make sure that your images, words, and overall online persona are in line with who you are, what you’re all about, and how you want the world to perceive you. Complete transparency may not be advisable in all situations, but conscientious, relative transparency is recommended.
Personally, I try to ensure that my online self is an accurate representation of my true, authentic day-to-day self. Thus, when I meet an online friend in real life, there’s a natural alignment between what they’ve seen online and what they perceive when they meet me in the flesh.
This episode is a taste of what my book will delve more into in terms of networking skills and branding, and if you’d like to chat about how specialized coaching with me can take your brand into the stratosphere, feel free to get in touch.
Thanks for tuning into episode 25, and thanks for visiting NurseKeith.com!
The Nurse Keith Show is adroitly edited and produced by James Larson, and social media and promotion are expertly handled by Mark Capispisan.
Please consider leaving a review of The Nurse Keith Show over on iTunes; this helps more nurses and healthcare professionals find the show and benefit from the information being shared. Just visit iTunes, click on the iTunes store, search for The Nurse Keith Show under podcasts, and leave a review, and voila. Thanks!
Be well, dig deep, and keep in touch!
Keith Carlson, RN, BSN, NC-BC, is the Board Certified Nurse Coach behind NurseKeith.com and the well-known blog, Digital Doorway.
Keith is co-host of RNFMRadio.com, a wildly popular nursing podcast; he also hosts The Nurse Keith Show, his own podcast focused on career advice and inspiration for nurses. Keith is also the resident nursing career expert at Nurse.com.
A widely published nurse writer, Keith is the author of “Savvy Networking For Nurses: Getting Connected and Staying Connected in the 21st Century.” He has also contributed chapters to a number of books related to the nursing profession, and currently writes for MultiViews New Service, LPNtoBSNOnline.com, StaffGarden, and Working Nurse Magazine.
Mr. Carlson brings a plethora of experience as a nurse thought leader, online nurse personality, holistic career coach, writer, and well-known successful nurse entrepreneur.