top of page

Jennifer Maxson on Building a Personal Brand: Unleashing the Power of Authenticity


Jennifer Maxson is President of Jennifer Maxson & Associates and took some time out to speak with Rob Barratt from The Industry Leaders about the power and importance of building a personal brand.


Firstly, many people fear the words 'personal brand' as it means going public with your thoughts. I want to know if you have always found it easy to 'put yourself out there'?

I appreciate this question because from the outside looking in, others see what we put out in the world. What they don’t see is how we are feeling about sharing our thoughts. It hasn’t always been easy to ‘put myself out there.’ When you share your thoughts, others may agree or disagree with you: When others agree, it feels good, and your confidence grows. When others disagree, self-doubt or limiting thoughts may start to appear for some of us. What I have found is that the more you share and show up for others, you enhance your personal brand, even if it scares you.


When it comes to building an authentic personal brand, what advice would you give professionals starting out?

Even early in our careers, we have a personal brand. Think about how others experience you every day. To get started, I encourage others to write out their personal brand statement and test the accuracy of it with a few confidantes. Listen to the feedback and determine if your brand statement is accurate or if it needs refining. Then, start living out your brand. This can be the hard part: Living and acting authentically in places that may challenge you or require different facets of your strengths, especially when your brand can be summed up by people’s experiences with you. It can take time to change people’s perceptions of past experiences but be patient with them (and yourself).


Do you think personal branding and reputation go hand in hand, and what can people do to maintain a positive reputation while brand-building?

Yes, for me personal brand and reputation are undoubtedly connected. My brand is the sum of people’s experiences with me, whether it be in-person, virtually, or reading articles, blogs, and social media posts. This relates to how they see me and think of me, lending thoughts to my reputation. To maintain a positive reputation, think about how you show up for others — Is it your true authentic self? Your best self? Others notice when we are not sincere, not present, and don’t deliver on our promises. I have found that I am at my best when I am focused on supporting others and upholding my word while also keeping my truth close.


Can you share a success story of how you or someone you follow used their personal brand to build business or career?

I used my personal brand to build Jennifer Maxson & Associates, a results-driven coaching partner for individuals and businesses seeking experts in leadership development. Our mission is the Enhance the Credibility of Leaders, something that I hold close to my personal and professional values. Based on my 26 years of experience in leading group training and individual coaching, I have partnered with global organizations and demonstrated results. The understanding of my own brand allowed me to shape our coaching practices to match the needs of our clients and grow with authentic success. Through meaningful relationships, I had individuals come alongside me and help me get my business started. I was able to retain past clients and they were excited to help me grow my organization. Opportunities to collaborate with amazing individuals and organizations allowed me to live into my personal brand. Throughout this journey, I received a lot of advice, insights, suggestions, and the list goes on. What I learned is that the power of authenticity and knowing who you are at your core is critical in how you make decisions and share your personal brand to the world.


Which platforms do you find most effective for establishing thought leadership and growing professional presence?

The mix of social media and writing for industry publications, like The Industry Leaders, is where I have been able to establish key components of thought leadership. It’s crucial to know your target audience and start sharing your ideas on the platforms that they are using every day. For example, I know that many of my current and future clients are on LinkedIn, so this is my primary social media platform. So, what am I sharing on social media to build my professional presence? Blogs, earned media, client testimonials, and more. You don’t want to tell people about your personal brand, you want to show them. All these pieces display my values as a leader, professional, and human. In addition to social media, Jennifer Maxson & Associates regularly updates our website and newsletter to stay connected to past, current, and future clients.


How do you ensure your personal brand stays true to who you are and your evolving goals?

I have found three ways to make sure that my brand stays aligned to who I am and my goals: 1. Honor your personal values: Understanding who I am as a person allows me to live my personal values and put them into practice every day. For example, one of my values is partnership. Part of my brand is showing up as a partner, in every interaction with my clients, team, and my family.

2. Annual review of your brand and future goals: Sometimes, we need to stop and look at our current brand and the trajectory we’re on. As we evolve, so must our brand and goals. Nothing is concrete. You have the freedom to progress and make changes for the betterment of your business, team, and self.

3. Seek feedback from trusted individuals: Consider asking someone that you trust for feedback on how they see your personal brand and the alignment with your changing goals. Ask a few individuals so that you can look for key trends from people who know you and your brand.


What are some practical strategies or tactics professionals can use to expand their network and build meaningful connections?

Think of weaving a network of support. When expanding your network, you are adding one new relationship that allows you to increase your connections. This could be done by attending business or industry events in your niche or beyond. As you start to meet others, be present and interested in learning more about them. During your conversation, look for a point of connection or similarity. Meaningful connections come from building genuine relationships and finding common ground. Especially in the age of LinkedIn, you may connect with someone through social media. When you are reaching out to someone new, let them know why you want to connect. This is not the time to be selling, this is the time to get to know someone new. Remember — Be authentic. My experience is that when you are focused on getting to know others, they will also be interested in getting to know you. Try to keep the end goal of building your network on your peripheral, not the forefront.


Along your personal branding journey, have you encountered any common obstacles that readers of this interview should be aware of?

Yes. For example, it’s understandable when you see someone else’s personal brand to want to emulate it to fit your own. Don’t try to be someone you aren’t. It’s easy to start comparing yourself to others but remember that your brand is unique. As simple as it sounds, there is only one you, so embrace it.


Imagine you have a time machine that can transport you to the future. What impact do you envision your personal brand having on the world?

Inspiring and empowering future leaders. We need leaders at all levels and all roles in our organizations as they provide direction, build alignment, and inspire us to keep going. My hope for the future is that we have leaders who are engaged and excited to show us the way.


Close your eyes and imagine you're a bestselling author. What captivating book would you write to share your personal brand journey and insights?

It would be called Lead to the Max!®, a collection of short stories from leaders. I see the combination of stories with lessons learned focused around being your authentic self, creating your personal brand, and inspiring change. A book like this would strive to show readers how their own self-reflection and personal investment can enhance their brand.


Thanks so much for sharing your knowledge with us here! Where should people follow you to find out more about your work?



Comments


bottom of page