Carrying the gold medals onto the ice during the final game of the recent World Junior Hockey Championship was one of the greatest experiences of my life.
It was also the scariest!
As I stepped onto the ice looking like a waiter from Denny’s it struck me that millions were watching on TV.
That’s when the trembling started.
It got worse when I saw that the slippery path to where the medals are presented was 30 feet long and choked with dejected Russian teenagers. Hours earlier, visions of a ticker-tape parade in Red Square danced in their heads. Now, after a 5-4 loss to Canada, the Russian players were in no mood to make way for the guy with the medals they didn’t win (one threw his stick into the stands).
The good news is that even if I fell and embarrassed myself in front of millions it would be OK. Other than a bruised ego (and keister), the experience of having a pivotal role in such a high-profile event was great for my personal brand.
Like a lot of Canadians I have a tremendous passion for hockey. I’ve been involved in the game all my life. When developing my personal brand strategy I recognized that junior hockey was part of my expertise. Working with Hockey Canada at the 2015 World Junior Championship was an opportunity to share that passion, build my personal brand, and even do a little business.
If you’re thinking of growing and managing what people think of you, here are some things to consider:
You already have a personal brand. What is it? What do people think of you? How do you present yourself to the world? These are a few of the critical questions you must answer before you think about growing your brand. Start with the three C’s: co-workers, customers, and colleagues. You might be surprised by what they say about you!
Then do a self-audit to see how you look to people who don’t know you.
Google your name and take a critical look at the results. For most people the only things that show up are links to their LinkedIn and Facebook pages. That’s fine provided they reflect the image you want to portray. What if they don’t? Incomplete, picture-less profiles will damage your personal brand. So will the fact that you look hammered in every Facebook photo.
If you lost your job today would you hire yourself based on your Google search results? Too many people have gaping holes in their current personal brand that must be filled before they begin the process of building a new one.
Think like a brand
You’re always being watched and every action contributes to your personal brand. In today’s ultra-competitive business environment one dumb move can have serious consequences.
Before you scream at the referee over a penalty your daughter probably deserved, think of the implications. Letting your guard down for a second can be a lot more costly than a two-minute hooking penalty. It’s too bad you didn’t notice that the president of your largest customer is the coach of the other team.
My rule of thumb: everyone is watching, even people you can’t see. There’s no recovery from the unknown!
The nicher, the richer
Everyone is good at something outside of work. If you don’t have any outside passions I suggest you reflect on what you really enjoy doing.
Being perceived as an expert in something other than transportation is essential for a strong personal brand. The more specific you can be, the better. Guess who ended up moving the truckloads of freight required to run the World Junior Championship? The organizers were happy when they discovered they had a transportation “expert” in their midst. Eventually the dots do connect.
End game counts
Sounds obvious, but if you’re not sure what you want to accomplish by growing your brand then don’t waste time worrying about it.
Letting nature take its course isn’t the worst thing you can do, but it’s better to take the initiative. The goals you choose will have a direct impact on how you approach developing your brand. Don’t be wishy-washy. Be specific and introspective so everyone is clear what your end game is.
In my case, the goal was simple: use junior hockey to fill my trucks and my passion.
After the ceremony I was amazed at how many people reached out to me. Turns out almost 8 million households were tuning in. Ironically, I can’t help but wonder how much more my brand would have grown if I had fallen on my butt. Maybe next time!
In my next column I’ll discuss how to create and distribute your brand.
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