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How to teach children about personal branding

How to teach children about personal branding

Of all the things we could teach children, personal branding seems unlikely, and it is almost like an attempt to overdo things. I agree that deciding to teach children about personal branding is odd, but we probably said the same about buying devices for preschoolers a few years ago.

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I’m a toddler mum and every year on children’s day, I stop to marvel at how fast they grow and how much they know. I mean children learn etiquette before they even turn two.

We teach them to say “please”, “thank you”, and “sorry”; and they get it. They get it fast. The capacity of their brain is clearly much bigger than their physical size.
So, if times have changed and our children are brilliant, why would we think we shouldn’t expand the range of conversations we have with school age children?

Many parents tend to overlook, or assume that children will “pick up” these skills in school, or learn what they need along the way. They will learn for sure, but you can give them a head start. In fact, you must! Your child is going into a world where people make hiring decisions based on what they find about job candidates online.

Showing up on time and obeying rules is no longer enough. The future of work requires some new set of skills - skills to do the work, and skills to get the work.

If we successfully teach children about personal branding, they’ll:

  • Be memorable
  • Open to opportunities
  • Stand out to employers 
  • Know how to take advantage of their strengths

In this article, I share tips for doing so without necessarily saying “sit, let me teach you personal branding”. More importantly, I know that you are not a child. So, you’ll get some adult personal branding tips as well.

6 Ways to Teach Children about Personal Branding

#1: First Impressions

Have a conversation with your child about the importance of first impressions. They’ll get many opportunities to make first impressions in life, but it only takes a second to do so. So, it is worth taking the time to teach how to be thoughtful at managing first impressions. 

Talk about the importance of body language, eye contact, empathy, and confidence. Though, I believe that confidence is something anyone can cultivate, you could actually give your child an advantage in that area.

Go deeper to talk about digital first impressions and the need to think before posting. Give guidelines for using digital media and why it’s important to be careful about what you say online. You can use this opportunity to add some lessons about online security and safety too.

You can’t stop your child from browsing the internet. They have several opportunities to do so, and they most probably will find a way. Instead, be proactive. Write a brief one-page digital use agreement with a few points that you and your child will sign as a reminder of how to use internet access.

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#2: Reinforcing Strengths

Personal branding is really about differentiating yourself and each of us was born with strengths that can help us not only differentiate ourselves, but also excel in any chosen field.

However, by the time most people reach adulthood, they’ve ignored or learned to downplay their strengths. This is a disaster because if you don’t value your strengths, others won’t value them. People don’t demand what they don’t value and that’s the simple reason many brilliant people are ignored or passed up for opportunities.

Acknowledge the strengths of your child - not just in your mind, but to their hearing. It’s good for confidence, but it’s also good for identity.

Your child doesn’t have to be the best in school to have strengths.

  • A child who is acknowledged for stepping up will be more prone to honing her leadership skills.
  • A child who is acknowledged for the ability to follow through, won’t likely grow up to have a reputation for making plenty of promises but breaking them all.
  • A child who is acknowledged for empathy will be more open to exploring and improving his emotional intelligence.​​​​

At the end of the day, personal branding is about acknowledging your skills, channeling them where they bring the most value, and articulating the value in a way that it’s desirable to the right people.

"“If you don’t know what you have, it won’t matter what you have” - Emmanuel Iren

#3: Relationship Building

The ability to build and nurture relationships directly affects your personal brand because every person you meet has information or access that can help you. Thankfully, anybody - regardless of their personality type - can build relationships if they know what to do.

Relationships are built on mutual value. Good thing that as you do #2 above, your child knows her value. For relationships to be mutually beneficial, each person must be open to giving and taking. Go further to teach the concept of giving and receiving help.

Nurture your child’s capacity to be a good friend. Remind your child that putting himself is someone else’s shoes is key to being a good friend. Same thing with being kind, being there for others and taking ownership for mistakes.

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#4: The Art of Conversation

Nobody teaches a child to talk. They babble until they suddenly start pronouncing words. So, conversation is a natural skill, only that people often lose it as they grow up because they stop being confident about it. 

You can be more intentional about teaching the art of conversation. Make it practical, and make it fun. Teach ways to start, sustain and end conversations with others. Start by practicing how to introduce one’s self (adults call this elevator pitch), how to address an adult versus a peer, and what to say to begin a conversation.

Listening is another essential conversation skill, and you can help your child be a better listener by setting a good example. Through your words and example, show how to be present when talking with others and listen to what they have to say.

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#5: Values will Always Matter.

Values could refer to principles you believe in or the things you love doing and hold dear to heart. Both will always matter.

Treating people well is not something you only do before becoming a teenager. Kids might not see how they treat others as relevant to their future. But, that’s where we, the parents, caregivers and teachers, can help. Teach them that a good attitude is attractive and will never go out of style.

Encourage your child to get involved with things they are passionate about. They can volunteer, explore creative activities, and learn to participate in interesting things. That’s how people become interesting. Nobody was born boring. Expose them to fun things and learning opportunities. My first resume included my experience as a Customer motivator in my mother’s store. Don’t you dare laugh at me!

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#6: Consistency starts with learning to say your name

Have you ever heard about people having to swear an affidavit to prove that their name is their name? How does that happen? Somebody misspelled their name? Not all the time. It’s often about a lack of consistency or in the person misspelling their own name. 

In Western Nigeria where I'm from, children have more than one name (I have 7😄), and everybody who knows you tends to call you the name they prefer. In fact, you will also grow up and choose which of the names you prefer. Children should be taught not to do this.

Decide how their names will be written and teach it to them. Teach them to introduce themselves by slowly saying their name and last name. When I introduce myself, I shouldn’t say “My name is Tolu”, but “My name is Tolu Michaels”. That’s personal branding.
"Personal branding is about managing your reputation, and your reputation starts with what you say about yourself." - Tolu Michaels

Teach older kids how to gently correct others who call them names or nicknames they don’t like. Names stick. Nobody wants to be known as “big head” or “chubby cheeks” all their lives.

From here on, they can begin to learn other things relating to brand consistency such as consistently using “clean” photos online, being themselves, doing what they say they will do, etc.

Please give your next child a name that is easy to type and spell. You will save them the heartache of explaining their name all the time. How do you expect me to talk about a person whose name I can’t even pronounce?

There you have it!

Maybe nobody sat you down at age 12 to discuss personal branding, but you must have seen the difference that these skills make in the lives of those who have them.

Why not give your child an advantage too? Get them started early so that they can deal with other issues when they grow up, instead of starting from scratch. If you make this investment, it will go a long way in your child’s life.

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