Over the one-week break I had from work after the holiday, I enjoyed my down time, but I was itching to get back into the office and start 2012 off with a bang. In fact, I may have been a little too eager. On Monday, January 2nd (a federal holiday) I went into the office only to find that I was the only one there. Clearly, I didn’t read the email saying that our office was closed.
Rather than turning back and going to my apartment I stuck around for a bit, got some work done, watched a few episodes of “How I Met Your Mother,” and caught up on some email. What was funny was that after I posted about my mishap, I received several tweets and messages commending me for my hustle and ambition.
However, my decision to go into work was not out of ambition, but rather lack of reading. Yes, I was eager to get back, but had I known we had the day off, I probably would’ve stayed at home and enjoyed one more day of relaxation.
This all brings me to my main point: perception is everything. It was perceived that I was at the office because of my hustle and rightfully so, since I hustle every other day of the year. The reason that I was at the office didn’t matter to my followers–they saw hustle.
That is what a strong brand can do for you. Creating a strong personal brand creates a perception that lasts even through the mistakes and brain flubs because heck, we all make them. Without a strong brand though, those mistakes seem larger because there isn’t anything overshadowing them. With a strong brand, others see those mistakes as stepping-stones in a career.
Perception is everything
When Reed Hastings, CEO of Netflix makes a mistake, we throw out phrases such as “one of the worst CEOs right now” and “Is Netlfix cooked?”
When Steve Jobs made a mistake either in product design, quality, etc. The public may have been a little upset but ultimately saw it as a slip-up and an opportunity for him to learn and enhance his genius. While Steve Jobs is one of the greatest leaders in the history of technology and business, he overcame missteps because of his BRAND.
Here are few things to keep in mind while building a strong brand:
Share what you’re doing
It’s difficult building a brand if people aren’t recognizing or seeing you and your accomplishments. Don’t be cocky, but don’t be shy about what you do–be proud and embrace it!
No strong brand has ever been absent of passion. Make sure you are passionate about what you are doing and the image you are building. You’ll start to see that others will start to gravitate and want to be associated with your brand.
Do it when no one’s watching
Creating a public image is not about working hard when all eyes are on you. Anyone can tell when someone’s drive, passion, and ambition are authentic or false. Creating an authentic brand and image requires putting in hours of hard work when no one is watching. Do that, and people will start to take notice.
So as you build your career, always keep in mind about the perception or mark that you are leaving behind. In the end, perception is everything but it is up to you to build a brand where other’s perceptions fuels your growth rather than hinders it.
Harrison is the Community Manager at MBA@UNC, the new Online MBA program at the University of North Carolina and sticks to his entrepreneurial roots as the founder of the global social good campaign, Tweet Drive. As evidenced through his previous projects, Harrison has a passion for all things social media, philanthropy, and finding new ways for students to understand the power of a brand. Before moving to New York and while still a student at Temple University, Harrison founded the PR/Social Media consulting firm, Kratz PR as well as Engage TV and the #PRStudCast podcast. Feel free to connect with him to discuss community, social good, branding, or the Philadelphia Phillies on Twitter, @KratzPR or Linkedin