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A genuine identity requires no announcement. But the moment one feels compelled to proclaim their personal brand, they risk losing the very essence of authenticity that underpins their credibility and appeal.

Arguably, there exists no rigid blueprint for cultivating a robust personal brand- the methodology must remain as adaptable as the individual it represents. However, we often see entrepreneurs encouraged to share remotely constructed thought leadership, put together by teams with limited access to their firsthand experiences and perspectives. We see them sent content calendars, with preconceived narratives, to engage on LinkedIn with a pre-defined list of industry stakeholders. They are assigned speaking opportunities on peer panels, most of which are recommended based on a rigid set of criteria that rarely evolves or takes into consideration their personality traits and developments of interests.

It seems that authenticity falls by the wayside when the focus becomes eagle-eyed on celebritizing entrepreneurs. Once a strong personal brand is identified, distilled, and substantiated, the right opportunities to elevate it naturally come along. There is no need to actively seek them out. When entrepreneurs embrace their true selves, without preconceived narratives shrouded in industry statistics and mundane news jacks, they not only resonate with their stakeholders, but they also cultivate real trust that stands as the bedrock of enduring relationships.

A personal brand professional is instrumental in fine-tuning an entrepreneur’s essence, enabling the creation of a personal brand that profoundly resonates with their audience. However, caution is advised when embracing a rigid and systematic approach that’s often imposed on entrepreneurs. This structured process typically commences with extensive evaluations, encompassing personality assessments, strengths and weaknesses analysis, and a thorough exploration of the entrepreneur’s values, beliefs, and passions. While this method offers a structured foundation, it can be viewed as limiting in the realm of personal brand development, potentially hindering the true essence and authenticity of the entrepreneur from shining through.

Here’s a list of what I like to call enemies to authenticity:

Overemphasis on assessment tools Relying heavily on assessments might lead to a situation where the entrepreneur’s personal brand becomes overly dictated by the results of these assessments. It may confine the entrepreneur to a predefined set of traits or characteristics, hindering the natural evolution and growth of their brand.

Risk of stereotyping Comprehensive assessments can also inadvertently pigeonhole an entrepreneur into certain categories or labels, potentially reinforcing stereotypes. This can limit creativity, individuality, and the ability to break free from conventional molds in personal brand development.

Potential for inauthenticity Another issue when beginning with assessments is the risk that the entrepreneur might be tempted to present themselves in a way that aligns with the perceived “desired” traits from these evaluations. This can result in a personal brand that feels forced or inauthentic.

Neglecting flexibility and adaptability A rigid structure starting with assessments might also hinder the entrepreneur’s ability to adapt and evolve as circumstances change. Personal brands need to be flexible, capable of adjusting to new experiences, learnings, and shifts in market dynamics.

Missing the organic growth process A structured approach might overlook the organic, real-world experiences that often shape an entrepreneur’s personal brand. Learning through practical ventures, challenges, and interactions with stakeholders is a crucial aspect of building an authentic personal brand. This helps in identifying the unique attributes that define the entrepreneur.

A strict, assessment-focused approach may stifle creativity, limit authenticity, and impede the dynamic and adaptable nature that is vital for a successful personal brand, especially in the entrepreneurial realm. Instead, a more flexible and holistic approach that allows for organic growth, real-world experiences, and authentic expression may be more conducive to effective personal brand building.

Related: Making Your Personal Brand Work For You: The How-To

But what about safeguarding your personal brand? Well, only you can be a true gatekeeper for your brand. So, the next time your public relations and communications team approaches you with an opportunity to speak, or a caption to post, ask yourself the following questions:

Does it align with my values and principles? Define your core values and principles. Understand what matters most to you personally and professionally. Make decisions and conduct business in alignment with these values, even when faced with challenging situations or temptations to compromise.

Is this an opportunity to tell my unique story? Share your journey, experiences, and motivations authentically. Be open about your struggles and triumphs. Your unique story sets you apart, and it also allows others to connect with the real person behind the brand. Authentic storytelling fosters genuine relationships.

Can I engage with transparency and honesty? Be open and honest in your interactions with stakeholders- customers, partners, employees, and the community. Communicate openly about your products or services, challenges, and aspirations. Transparency builds trust and credibility- the key elements of an authentic brand.

For entrepreneurs, personal branding should not simply be considered a tool to sustain enduring relationships, foster growth, and achieve business results. Instead, the ultimate goal should be to achieve relevance and resonance with a truly distinct authenticity that has your audience anticipating every exchange.

Related: Looking for Business Role Models? Be Wary Of Celebrity CEOs

This article is from Entrepreneur.com

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