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Getting Personal – Balancing your Personal Brand vs Professional Brand


October 22, 2020 / fbcadmin

Kerrie Sheaves
Foundational Business Consulting

Personal Brand

Let’s get personal about Personal Branding

Something you don’t know about me is that I’m really very anti social. That might seem a contradiction between my personal brand and professional brand given most of my daily life is spent at networking events, meeting with clients and business colleagues. I wear a million hats, and have a massive network.

But the truth is that I crave nothing more than curling up in my pajamas with a trashy crime novel in bed, with the door closed to the rest of the world.
COVID close-downs were like a get-out-jail-free card for me. Legally mandated not to socialize! How good was that. (Besides the stress of trying to keep the doors of my small business open of course.)

Personal vs Professional is there a difference?

No, you are one person not two, no matter how hard you try to separate your worlds, people notice there is an act. Do not be fooled into thinking you’re fooling anyone.

“Whether you know it or not, you have a personal brand. When you Google yourself, what pops up? These results are the first impression people will have of you. Is it a good one? Is the information you are sharing across LinkedIn, Facebook, and other social media sites consistent?” – Caroline Castrillon

How do I balance my Personal Brand vs Professional Brand?

Now that I’ve told you I’d rather be tucked up in a bed than meeting with you, you might ask do I secretly hate business networking.

No, I love it. I enjoy meeting with and learning about other business owners – they are my people, my tribe. I get energized by it in the same way you might feel energized going for a jog or cycle. (By the way I do hate exercise I find it boring).

Will I enjoy coming to your birthday party with a bunch of random strangers from all walks of life? I feel honoured to be invited, but No, I feel awkward and don’t know how to talk about anything light and fun.
I’m really a big nerd. I spend my free time read articles about astronomy, ai, archaeology and nanotech, there is a lot of useless trivia in my brain which is great for Trivia Nights, but social events not so much.

Balancing my Personal Brand vs Professional Brand means sharing

Do I hate sharing personal information with other people? Yes and No.

Like most people I’m a not sure I want people knowing me more deeply than I am comfortable with. Knowledge is power. It’s not because I am afraid of what other people think of me, but rather I don’t think I’m that interesting.
I’d rather learn about you. So that makes the trend and concept of sharing personal stories as part of my marketing my brand a little tricky. I’d rather talk about facts and business concepts with people, than share stories from my personal experiences.

Being a good storyteller, includes using your own stories, and sharing personal experiences to connect the audience with your service or product. This is an artform that helps you to engage with people deeply and for them to engage with your brand.

The thought of getting in front of a camera and talking to people about what I did this week and the problems I solved for clients is uncomfortable to me. I’m happy to talk about a topic I know well or MC an event, but that’s not talking about me, I can hide behind the information.
Besides considering the cyber risk issues with sharing personal information, how do you choose what you share, and who to share personal experience with?

Personal and Professional Boundaries

A good Psychologist once told me that everyone serves a specific purpose or type of relationship for you, no one can be everything to you, and you can’t be everything for them.
Deciding what the limits of your relationships are with each person and letting them be what they are means expecting nothing more from that relationship. That will mean you can enjoy the relationships you have online and offline, personally and professionally.

How does this relate to balancing your personal brand and professional brand in the world?

Well, as I am a very private person, I make it a rule that I don’t share my private beliefs, thoughts, and frustrations on social media. I do share my personal experiences with people in one to one context once the relationship boundaries are established.

Do I struggle with stress, anxiety, exhaustion, disappointment? You bet!

I’m not superhuman, even if I have to wear my undies on the outside every now and then. But you will rarely see me posting about it on social media.

Have I experienced the very worst of pain, sorrow, hurts and loss? More than you can possibly imagine – I have faced defeat and I have lost everything many times. Everyday is a pandemic in my world. But you wont hear about that when I get up and talk at an event, even though some of my life experiences could encourage or inspire others who have struggled.

Why? Because my various professional roles mean I represent the interests of every kind of business owner. I don’t want to be seen as promoting or championing one group of people over another in my professional capacity, or being labelled or misjudged by my personal experiences as a result.

My public (personal and professional) brand is Small Business Owner, Connector and Supporter of other Small Business Owners.

You won’t see me commenting on news of the day. Why because as a professional business owner I am the ambassador of my companies’ brand and sharing my personal opinions in a public forum is unnecessary.
Do I talk about these things with a close group of trusted friends, sure, but it doesn’t polish my professional brand to be seen sharing thoughts that could be taken the wrong way by other people reading them online.

As I tell my teenage kids, social media is a weapon not a toy, and it will be used against you.

Protect and polish your brand. Anything that doesn’t do that doesn’t below in a public forum.

Can you be Real without being too personal?

Yes, the person you see at events, in person and online is the same authentic me, there’s no façade. There’s just somethings that I consider not suitable for polite company eg my naughty sense of humor, or my political view points.

It’s too tiring to be someone you’re not.

So how do you balance that personal brand and professional brand. It’s about actively deciding to be authentic, relaxed and truthful, not worried about what other people think about you, but also choosing what’s appropriate to each situation, and how it will polish or tarnish your brand.

As a business owner, being real, admitting when you’re struggling and being consistent in your delivery and business and customer relationships is essential.

Should I have separate social media accounts?

If you feel more comfortable having a private account or using the private groups functions instead of maintaining one profile, go for it. But just consider that people can still find you and will feel rejected when you decline their friend request. I try to only accept friend requests from people I’ve actually met or interacted in someway with.

I don’t keep separate personal and professional social media accounts, it’s too hard and time consuming.

People in business want to connect with you as the person behind the business, they want to know you, like you and trust you. Would you buy from someone you don’t know or trust?

I just have a simple rule that I don’t share too much on Facebook and Instagram. And I don’t share anything that is really personal, like my kids school information, or images with their uniforms, when I go away on holidays, what I had for lunch (no judgement), and my personal opinion on controversial topics. Nobody really cares if I like Trump or not, do they?

Being authentically you everywhere is the simplest thing to do. I focus on managing public situations and forums wisely to ensure that I only share myself in ways that are right for the way I want my personal brand and professional brand to be received.

As a small business owner you are the Ambassador of your brand

Everywhere, Every day to and to Everyone.

Business is personal for you. You need to be aware of and embrace your personal and professional brand as one and same, or the public will be confused by the inconsistency.

Now go away and let me get back to my bed and my Agatha Christie novel…

Call us to find out more today!


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