If you follow social media influencers or the social media industry at all, you probably hear a lot of discussion around the topic of the “personal brand.” In this article, we’ll discuss how the personal brand is important for rowing coaches developing their careers in the 21st Century. We’ll talk about what a personal brand is, why it is important for career coaches, and how you can get started developing your own.
What is a Personal Brand?
There is plenty of advice and guidance out there on defining your personal brand, and some of it makes for very interesting reading. To put it simply for our purposes, your personal brand can be defined as the way you represent yourself publicly and professionally based on your experiences, expertise, competencies, actions, and achievements. Your personal brand should both precede you and follow you wherever you go, but it is primarily represented online via your social media platforms, both professional and personal (LinkedIn, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, YouTube, and now potentially TikTok). Your personal brand is uniquely and entirely you.
The idea of developing a personal brand, or even having one in the first place, may seem inconsequential. What does your personal brand matter as long as your crews/rowers are winning? What does this matter if your team appreciates your efforts and keeps coming to practice? What does it matter if the Board of Directors is happy?
It matters because in an increasingly online community (how much time did you spend on a screen today?), your personal brand is developing whether or not you intend it. A non-existent (or outdated) social media account says just as much about your professional availability as does a full (and current) social portfolio. It used to be that social networks were just about connecting with friends. You could choose to opt out and still have a very active social circle. Now, however, all potential employers and partners are researching you on every platform. They are evaluating not just the experience and skill set you choose to include on your resume; they are also searching for the proof of those assets in your social media activities. Everything they are able to find out about you through these means can be collectively referred to as your personal brand.
Why a Personal Brand is Important for a Career Coach
I’d like to dispel a myth about social media that may ease some tension. For a professional maintaining a personal brand, social media is not about likes and followers. Your goal is not to be a social media influencer. It doesn’t matter how many people follow you or like your content. Rather, your goal is to present via your posts a consistent and persistent idea of who you are and what you are capable of. Social media should present the truest, best version of you so that when potential partners, employers, or employees go looking for information about you (and they will, 100% guaranteed), they will find an excellent representation of who you are as a person.
Your personal brand also helps identify who you are as a coach and what your priorities are in regard to rowing and athletics. All coaches are unique individuals, and while there are some very good mimics out there, for the most part we (eventually) figure out our own coaching personalities and styles. You want to be able to communicate this through your personal brand so that you don’t end up in a situation where the club hired you expecting Bob Knight when you’re really more of a John Wooden.
Finally, your personal brand will become more relevant as online coaching increases in prevalence and coaches explore new revenue opportunities with private clients and outside clubs. A potential client might be willing to pay more for a coach who clearly demonstrates, via his or her personal brand, that he or she has a significant amount of knowledge and insight to share.
How to Develop Your Personal Brand
Developing your personal brand can be an enriching and motivating exercise; an opportunity to remind yourself of all the things that make you unique and to reflect on how all of this can shine positively on your coaching practice/career. Here is an exercise to get you started:
Create a list of all your qualities. These are things that describe you as a person, including words like “honest” and “diligent”, as well as qualities that identify you in other ways (beyond being a coach), such as “father”, “mother”, “leader”, or “student.” These are qualities that point to your identity. If someone were to ask, “who are you?” (not referring to your name), what would you say?
Next, list your interests. Everything that you like to do, including rowing, should be included here. Be specific. For example, rather than simply writing “outside activities”, list specifics like hiking, running, cycling, badminton, swimming, or underwater basket weaving. Include everything cerebral (philosophy) and artistic (calligraphy) regardless of how esoteric it may be. Even if you don’t actually DO an activity, go ahead and include it if it actively interests you.
Finally, put together a list of your favorite brands. You aren’t doing this to attract a windfall of sponsorship offers. Rather, it is important to list these brands because your belief in what they represent is an extension of your own personal brand. We all know there are Android people and iPhone people out there. There are Starbucks folks and Peet’s folks. Maybe there is a certain piece of rowing equipment or gear that you never push off without. Include that brand as well. Your combination of favorite brands helps to further identify your uniqueness (what if you like Android, Starbucks, and Vespoli?), and that ultimately adds up to a more interesting personal brand.
What should you then do with this information? First, spend some time reflecting on the lists you’ve made. They may reveal some fresh, positive qualities about you. You may see that your interests are quite varied or more focused than you previously realized. After studying these lists for a while, you’ll see some patterns start to emerge. These patterns reflect your personal brand, and you can start to deliberately craft your social media posts in ways that accentuate them. Be consistent about this, and repeat this exercise from time to time, as it’s a good form of self-evaluation. Congratulations – you have developed your personal brand!
Creating a personal brand is a way forward for career coaches who are looking to move beyond the traditional “shove-off and chase the crew” role. Are you looking for more and better opportunities, professional growth, and for the rowing market to seek you out? Defining your own personal brand is the best way to create those opportunities. Good luck!
Madder Consulting is available to offer free guidance and counseling to any coach looking to build or enhance their personal brand. Reach out to firstname.lastname@example.org and let's have a conversation about it!