Many businesses and individuals attempt to define themselves by finding a simple description that communicates their value. On a corporate level, we have seen some go from being “publishers” to “media companies.” Circulation departments are now audience marketing departments. Human resources? No. Talent development.
What I find most interesting is not how a person or company defines themselves, but how others do. My favorite way to check this recently is via Twitter Lists. Here are the lists people have added me to, as an example.
This is intriguing for two reasons:
- How People Define You
You get to see the specific wording people use to define you when they are forced to choose just a word or two. Are you PR, marketing, or social media expert? Are you an editor, writer, thinker, or blogger? You might be surprised.
- Who They Group You With
You also get to see who else has been grouped with you in that category. Are these people you view as colleagues or competitors? Are they similar to you in job title and level of the org chart?
I am often surprised when I look at Twitter lists of someone I know – the range of descriptive words, and then the totally random categories. It reminds me how the way we define ourselves can limit our potential, and even miss the mark in terms of how others value us.
It is also a reminder that we are not our business titles. We are not a tagline. To build a career, the goal is not to be broadcasting a brand message, but to be engaging, helping and illustrating our value through actions, not pitches.
We all hear about the great expense that often goes into creating a new logo for a college or a new tagline for a business. And it’s a pretty cool to realize the process that goes into creating these things.
Oftentimes, they are supposed to help encourage an organizational change – a business that is responding to market shifts, a university that has a new focus, an individual that is trying to grow their reputation. So yes, the way we define ourselves is handy, and important.
But when individuals and organizations go through a transition, it is often slower and messier than just changing a logo or tagline. And the real value is not just in repeating the new pitch again and again, but in executing on that value, until your market begins to define you how THEY see you.