Attendees at a recent lunch panel “Personal Branding to Grow your Career and Business,” gained invaluable insight from a candid discussion among renowned business leaders and experts.
- Kaplan Mobray – Internationally recognized inspirational business speaker and award-winning author of The 10Ks of Personal Branding.
- Brent Robertson — A partner at West Hartford, CT-based Fathom, a strategy and creative team that works with business leaders.
- Kathy Nanowski – Vice President & Director of Marketing & Business Development with Fuss & O’Neill.
- David Salinas — Serial entrepreneur and the founder and visionary behind District, a New Haven, CT-based technology and innovation ecosystem.
- Moderator: Hartford Pastor AJ Johnson
What does personal branding mean to industry leaders? Why is it important to have a brand?
“It’s good to have a strong brand,” said Kathy Nanowski. “Your brand is your body of work,” she explained.
Your personal brand is also related to your company, Kathy added. When you own your own company, you own your own brand. When you have others working for you, your brand is everyone in the company. There are pros and cons, of course.
Kathy also highlighted the importance of owning your brand.
David Salinas agreed, “People relate to authenticity. Be you,” he said. “Fear causes lack of success,” David added. “Be brave. Take risks.”
Kaplan Mobray touched on the concept of having a brand at home versus brand at work. “The more consistent, the better,” he noted. “We often feel we have to change—don’t make your brands compete.”
Along those lines, Brent Robertson added, “A lot of what we need is sitting inside of us.”
Brent got the audience thinking about answer to the questions: What is your brand promise? What are you uniquely able to deliver? “Spend time listening,” he advised. “It’s not about saying, it’s about demonstrating.”
AUTHENTICITY AND CONFIDENCE
Authenticity and confidence were an ongoing theme among the panelists.
According to Kaplan, the more authentic you are to your brand, the more confidence you build. He also noted the value in being authentic in what you do and owning your existence. “Dare to be different—and consistent,” he encouraged.
Kathy reinforced the importance of being confident in what you do. “Don’t change who you are,” she said. “But, don’t be just anything—we won’t know what to brand you as.”
Experience was also emphasized throughout the discussion. How do others experience us? And how can we create experiences?
“We only exist externally through those who have experiences with us,” explained Brent.
“Experience builds relationships, relationships build brands,” underscored David.
Kathy added: You can’t improve what you can’t measure.
The panelists also noted the role the outside environment—and social media in particular—plays in building your brand.
According to David, it starts with understanding your identity—and understanding that social media plays up three things: health, wealth, and happiness. “People think personal branding happens this way,” he said. “But that’s not how the world works.”
Kaplan echoed that sentiment, saying, “Don’t choose someone else’s story.” He also discussed the significance of having a social media presence. “If you’re not findable, you’re not relevant,” he cautioned.
In terms of social media, Kaplan also emphasized that maintaining consistent momentum builds brands.
However, he noted, you should “run your brand as a news cycle—don’t just move for the sake of moving.”
BUILDING CONNECTICUT’S BRAND
Panelists were asked about how to build and improve Connecticut’s brand—and how to get the message out.
David pointed out that there is a “siloed” sense of pride throughout Connecticut. “We’re too small to be siloed,” he maintained. “Pride starts with us getting passionate. We have to continue to remind people what’s good about Connecticut.”
Brent agreed. “We’re creating what’s missing. Connecticut needs to be a hub where talent is created and available,” he said.
Most importantly, he added, “We need to gush—we need to share about the successes.”
Kudos to Ryan Keating for organizing a well-received event! Stay tuned for upcoming panel discussions.
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