19. Help Me Out Here!—Asking for Insights from Others
To build your personal brand, you need to know the opinions of others.
Many of us feel we would rather not know what others really think about us, but in order to uncover your authentic self, you really need to collect data from a broader base than just your own personal opinion.
This is especially true because, often, others perceive you differently than you see yourself. It takes courage to ask what others think about you. The surprising part is, you often find that others think more highly of you than you think of yourself.
When evaluating their employees, businesses often use a 360 degree assessment. The person doing the evaluation will gather information from all facets of the employee’s work life to help them understand where they exceed expectations and what areas they might be able to strive towards improving.
Building a personal brand is a bit like performing an evaluation of yourself, and the same 360 Building a personal brand is a bit like performing an evaluation of yourself. Think about whom you could approach to do a 360 degree assessment of yourself. This list could include your friends, professors, family, classmates, co-workers, and school staff. Your goal is to gather information as to what they think about you in such areas as:
- Your skills and abilities
- Your strengths and weaknesses
- General comments
Conducting a survey
Don’t forget, your opinion of yourself needs to be a significant point of input. The 360 degree assessment will be most effective if you have completed all the modules up to this point.
When asking for other people’s opinions, it’s important to make sure their comments will remain anonymous, so that they can react as honestly as possible. Two options include 360Reach (which is free for 15 days) or creating your own survey for free through Survey Monkey.
The way these online assessment tools work is that you supply your evaluator’s names and e-mail addresses, and the company running the survey reaches out to those people on your behalf. Ideally, you need to get at least 15 responses, so you should request feedback from around twice that number of people, as not everyone will complete the survey, regardless of how good their intentions are. To gain the best results, choose people who know you well enough to answer questions about your top strengths or attributes.
You will collect more results if, prior to activating the survey, you send your own e-mail alerting your contacts that this assessment will be coming, that their responses will be anonymous, that it is something that you really would like them to do, and that you appreciate their honest feedback, which will aid you in your personal, academic, and professional development.
When you receive grades at school, the experience can be either positive or negative. Grades are supposed to be an objective evaluation of your work, but they can feel subjective and personal.
Conducting a survey can bring up those grade-related feelings of being judged. It’s important to enter into this endeavor in the spirit of personal growth and to know that this process is one that you control. The feedback is for your use only, and you get to choose how to apply it. We’ve said this before, but it bears repeating—knowledge is power. You’re gathering this knowledge as a powerful tool for shaping your future.
Reacting when people see you differently than you see yourself
One of the biggest surprises in receiving feedback occurs when what you think of yourself turns out to be different from what others think of you. Now comes the part where you wield your power and decide what to do with that information. If it turns out that you see yourself differently than others see you, ask yourself two questions:
- Do I want to be seen more as I see myself?
- Do I want to be seen as others see me?
When a gap exists between your own and others’ view of you, it may be that you think less of yourself than others think of you. Or, you may feel you have inner strengths or abilities that you haven’t quite demonstrated to the world yet. In either case, to close the gap between how you see yourself and how others see you, you have to devise a plan to either
a.) start thinking more highly of yourself or,
b.) exhibit those qualities that you haven’t quite showcased.
In both situations, setting some goals is a logical step to shaping others perceptions of you into a personal brand you’ll be proud of and one that will feel authentic and true to who you are. That’s what we’ll focus on in upcoming modules!
Some questions you can use to answer for yourself and to ask others are:
- What do you think are my strengths?
- If you were describing me to another person what would you say about me?
- If you compared me to a type of dog what type of dog would I be and why?
- Imagine me in a group setting–what role would I play? Leader, Implementor, Organizer, or Group Member