Not only did Muhammad Ali know a thing or two about boxing, he was a champion of his brand, too. I instructed a class this month on “Making the Most Out of LinkedIn for Your Personal Brand.” If LinkedIn were around when Muhammad Ali was in his prime, his description might read something like: ‘Self-proclaimed greatest boxer of all time. Entertaining audiences globally for over a decade.’ Well, you get the idea.
“Float Like a Butterfly…”
1. Think: Take a moment to think about what you want to be known for…. Got it? Now own it. If it’s not boxing (or maybe it is), what do you want people to think or say about you when you leave the room? For example: “He’s the most entertaining boxer I’ve ever seen and I would pay to see him again anytime!” Think about what you want people to say about you when you’re not there.
2. Craft: Now that you’ve thought about what you want to be known for, take time to create an authentic, descriptive, and again, maybe even entertaining, summary of yourself. Does it lead someone to want to read more about you? Does it summarize your successes? For example: “Olympic gold medal winner known for putting boxing on the map and dominating the sport for over two decades.” I immediately think, ‘Wow, how did he do that?’ I want to continue reading to find out!
3. Be the champ: Now that you have a winning summary of yourself, figure out what makes you different. What makes you the best at what you do? For example: “First man to win a heavyweight boxing title three times. Career-ending 56-5 record, with 37 knockouts, and lifetime earnings of $57 million.” Well,you don’t have to include your career earnings, but it sure sounded good in this example. Take the proverbial bull by the horns and own the title of best in your industry. Be prepared to prove it. Customer testimonials are a great way to help prove how good you are and they sound much better than you saying how fab you are — unless of course you are Muhammad Ali.
4. Trailblaze: Now that you’ve figured out what makes you a champ, you need to share your forward-thinking ideas with others. Ali was known for speaking his mind (even if he was a bit controversial at times), but I would encourage you to be a thought leader in your industry. Take time each week to think about how you can help others — your customers and future customers — where your industry is headed, etc., and put it in writing. Start a blog, post it on your social networks, and even launch a podcast (consider reading “The Rising Popularity of Podcasting, and Why Your Business Should Care“).
5. Make a difference: Lastly, highlight what are you doing to make the world a better place (ever heard of good karma?). Some of the students graduating from high school and college are so smart — some with over 4.0 GPAs. (Don’t ask me how you earn over a 4.0 GPA; I preferred to socialize a bit more than study too hard). What is going to be the tipping point of an employer when they are looking at two resumes with identical grades? Their social consciousness (and they have it — a 2014 millennial impact report showed 92% of millennials are contributing their creative skills to companies they feel are making a difference in the world). Find out what you are passionate about and donate your time, talents and/or treasures. Ali was an inspiration to the young, recognized for his race relations, humanitarianism, and standing up for what he believed in, even when the consequences were great. He fought for truth and justice.