Perspectives

What the U.S. Women’s Gymnastics Team Can Teach Us About Personal Branding

By , Posted August 15, 2016

Simone Biles, Aly Raisman, Gabby Douglas, Laurie Hernandez and Madison Kocian of the U.S. Women’s Gymnastics Team have truly branded themselves as a powerful athletic team. This group of young women had a lot to live up to after the Fierce Five from the 2012 London Olympics, and in their 2016 competitions thus far, they have not disappointed.

Due to their success and and hard work, their team “brand” has grabbed America’s attention. There was even a recent poll to help them decide their team nickname, which they announced shortly after as the Final Five, to honor the team coordinator, Martha Karolyi’s final year of coaching. They also decided on the name Final Five, because 2016 is the last year that there will be five gymnasts per team; the 2020 games will only have four.

Though we may not all be in the international spotlight like the Final Five, we can still learn quite a few lessons from them in terms of branding ourselves.

For instance, we can all work on building up a positive brand image for ourselves in the “media,” which can include social media, blogs, online portfolios, published work from previous positions, personal recommendations, and the way we present ourselves in person. Each aspect you decide to utilize should be unified and should work together to portray your personal brand.

Let’s explore 5 more things we can learn from the Final Five:

YOUR ONLINE PRESENCE SHOULD REFLECT WHO YOU ARE AND WHAT YOU STAND FOR
Simone Biles is constantly posting photos of herself with her teammates and other athletes with supportive, positive captions. Her ‘job’ is to compete at the highest level of gymnastics in the world, but she also has to remember she is an inspirational role model to kids in the United States and across the globe.

What does this mean to you? Your posts should reflect your professional interests as well as your personal life. Do this by incorporating your interests, hobbies, ideal traits, career goals, accomplishments and personal values.

SHOWCASE YOUR WORK
Just as the Final Five seek out opportunities to showcase their work online and on TV, we should work to demonstrate what we do in a meaningful way – whether this be online or offline.

Online portfolios and blogs are great ways to feature your work and incorporate your personality online apart from social media. These sites give readers more insight about who you are as a person without limiting you to only one photo or a quick 140 characters.  

NETWORKING
Simon Biles and the rest of the gang didn’t get to where they are alone. They worked alongside others each and every day, and you better believe they did a ton of networking to find the right coaches, teammates and mentors.

Recommendations and connections are the endorsements of the professional world. They play a vital role in establishing your personal brand. You can’t necessarily control what people say about you, so it’s important to leave a positive impression on everyone you meet. You never know who might attest to your qualifications, skills and personality traits.

So, make it a point to network, connect with people, get your name (and business card) out there, and start to build yourself a tribe that can support and endorse you personally and professionally.

CRAFT YOUR PERSONAL IMAGE
The impression you make in person is how you will be remembered. How do you want to be known?

In the case of an all-star gymnast, they dress the part by sporting scrunchies and rhinestone encrusted leotards covered in chalk. I am in no way condoning anyone to show up to work wearing a leo, but your image is a big part of how people perceive you.

This is different for everyone depending on an individual’s workplace, but as the adage goes, “Dress for the part you want.” Your personal image can play a big part in how you’re perceived in the workplace, so considering this can go a long way in helping you create a personal brand for yourself.

WHAT DOES YOUR CURRENT PERSONAL BRAND LOOK LIKE?
When you search for any of the Final Five, you’re going to see pictures and stories from many different sources and about many different events they’ve participated in. You might even see some articles covering their “out of gym” life. With the Internet, nothing is off-limits. That’s why you need to be diligent about what your existing personal brand is saying about you.

Google yourself to see what readers might discover about you, conduct a social media “audit” of your profiles (i.e. check out what pictures, statuses and information outsiders can see on your profiles), and make sure your professional profiles and portfolios (and resume) are updated to showcase your most recent work and experience. Doing this can give you a leg-up on competition and ensure you’re ready for personal stardom.

We should all take notes from the Final Five. They branded themselves as a powerhouse gymnastic team and are now America’s sweethearts. Building a personal brand is what separates you from the masses and marks you as an individual with more to offer to a job than just the essential skills.

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