Definition: Personal branding is the process of developing a “mark” that is created around your personal name or your career. You use this “mark” to express and communicate your skills, personality and values. The end goal is that the personal brand that you develop will build your reputation and help you to grow your network in a way that interests others. They will then seek you out for your knowledge and expertise.
Personal brands affect each and every one of us daily. Few players realize that they are building their personal brands NOW, at age 12 or at age 17. This no longer applies to just famous celebrity adult athletes out in the “real world.” Social media, in my eyes, is affecting personal branding the most with young players. Every tweet, every picture, every post is defining how you want the world to view you and how you are making your own unique “mark” on the world. Young players are unaware that the image they are portraying now, even at as preteen, could be affecting where their career is headed when it comes to playing in college and also in post college careers past softball. Personal branding affects a player trying to play softball in college just as much as it affects the current college softball standout.
Why is this important when it comes to softball? A softball player’s brand is not simply built on batting average, ERA, or wins and losses. Though that is PART of a player’s brand, it truly is much more and deeper than just statistics and swag on the field. Every second of the day it’s either getting stronger or getting weaker. A player is not the only person who has a personal brand in our game – coaches and parents also have their personal brand which is being defined with every game, every win, every loss and every taught skill along the way….but a coaches and parents brand discussion will have to be discussed on a different date.
What players are putting out on social media is writing their personal brand through words and pictures that will live forever — Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, Vine, etc. This is something that 10-15 years ago, players like myself did not have to worry about as much, as the concept of Personal Branding really started to come around in the late 90’s. It is through technology and apps that define your brand and really what you are all about on the inside. As I’ve watched and monitored over our own team’s tweets and posts, I’ve noticed some common themes along the way that need to be redirected and given better, more positive energy than some of the negativity I read.
Think of these things as you build YOUR brand before you post anything on any of your apps:
- What is your vision and purpose?
- What are your values and passions?
- What are your goals? Long term and short term?
- What makes you happy?
I’ve explained to our own Firecracker team before that Twitter should not be a medium to release any and all personal problems that vary between how you’re playing on the field to relationship problems to family problems. I totally understand 100% that players feel like these forms of social media is a way to express themselves…but there are some things that should be left to be expressed to your coach, friends or family in a one on one CONVERSATION, not a public conversation on the Internet. Remember that there are other ways to be heard and people who care about what you are feeling who are actually close to you – your friends and family.
If you’re not playing well on the field…why would you tweet about it? Do you want your competition to know that you’re not seeing the ball well or your change up is struggling? Instead of tweeting about it, go practice. Take that energy and use it towards something good. If you have time to tweet about it, usually you have time to go out and practice or get better at whatever it is you’re complaining about. The more your thoughts are negative, the longer you will struggle. Along those same lines, are your tweets helping your team or hurting your team? Handle team problems off the field not through social media.
When you’re tweeting, think about the language you are using. No curse words or putting other people down or bullying. Anything negative only brings other people down who are reading it and makes YOU look worse.
When you’re posting pictures, before you post, think about if that exact picture was on the front of USA Today, would you be ok with it? What would your parents think if they saw it on the front of the paper?
Don’t complain about relationship and friendship problems via social media. These problems fall under that personal umbrella that should not be shared with the world. Now don’t get me wrong, I know that there will be problems, we all have them. However, there is a place to talk about them, and it’s not over a social media medium. The negativity and complaining take away from your personal brand.
When you are tweeting and posting, think about posting things that shape YOU in the light that you want to be seen in and the characteristics that you want put next to your name. If you’re having a bad day, where you maybe can’t think of anything nice or positive to post, then just go ahead and don’t put anything that day. Putting nothing is better than putting something negative or sad. Nobody else defines you, YOU define you. Do you want to be seen as pessimistic, critical, a bad teammate, depressed and someone who has self pity? Or do you want to be seen as charismatic, happy, motivated, inspired, passionate? When you put yourself in a college coach’s shoes, which characteristics do you want your players to have and be around every day? What kind of energy are you giving off to the public with your posts?
Have an effect on others that is positive. Before you post, think is this helping or hurting my brand? It’s so important to realize that every day your image can be seen in a negative or positive light, which will have an effect on not only YOU but college coaches, tournament team coaches, opposing players and also your career once softball is finished. Right now, what kind of brand are you creating and what kind of “mark” are you leaving on the world? The brand you are creating on a daily basis now has an impact on your life years and years down the road. Make the most of it NOW, don’t start later.
Personal branding is the practice of people marketing themselves and their careers as brands. The personal-branding concept suggests that success comes from self-packaging. Personal branding also involves creating an asset by defining an individual’s appearance and areas of knowledge in a way leading to a uniquely distinguishable, and ideally memorable, impression.