Not so long ago, branding was only practiced by the top corporations. Not any longer. Increasingly, more and more professionals are taking branding to a whole new level; they are proactively branding themselves, their products and services. Savvy folks know that building their personal brand can have numerous benefits; from the ability to increase business prospects to being personally tapped for top employment opportunities.
So, what is personal branding and why has it so popular among today’s professionals?
As described in Wikipedia, personal branding is the practice of people marketing themselves and their careers as a brand. Wikipedia goes on to say; “while previous self-help management techniques were about self-improvement, the personal-branding concept suggests instead that success comes from “packaging.” Personal branding also involves creating an asset by defining an individual's body, clothing, physical appearance, digital and offline presence and areas of knowledge, in a way, leading to a uniquely distinguishable, and ideally memorable, impression. The term is thought to have been first used and discussed in a 1997 article by Tom Peters.”
Essentially, Personal Branding is recognizing your assets, characteristics, strengths, and skills as an individual, and is a combination of how you present yourself and how others see you. In our competitive business environment, it is important to be conscious of how well you are perceived. In fact, because so many professionals are vying for the same jobs, it has become imperative for many to brand themselves. It is an advantage to let others know who you are and the unique talent and skills you bring to the table.
Where do you begin? Media strategist Dan Schawbel in his article, 10 Ways to Personal Branding Can Keep you From Being Fired offered some sage advice. He stated, “the single biggest mistake people make is that they either brand themselves just for the sake of doing it or that they fail to invest time in learning about what's in their best interests. The key to success, and this is not revolutionary, is to be compensated based on your passion.”
Whether you take on the task of branding yourself or hire a skilled PR professional to assist you, you need to consider certain important tools for marketing your brand. For example, a truly successful brand creates a consistent, targeted impression which is essential to helping you achieve your personal and professional goals. In addition, personal branding helps you to work and live authentically because a truly extraordinary brand is always a sincere representation of who you are; you cannot be phony and be a sought-after, successful brand.
Here are some ways to distinguishing your brand:
Become indispensable. The first folks that lose their jobs are those who skills and talents are rendered irrelevant. Be indispensable to your clients and associates by mastering your skills, then you will continually remain in demand and your phone will never stop ringing!
Brand yourself as an authority. When you are building your professional reputation, you want others to identify your brand to be synonymous with dynamic talent and skill. For example, you want to be the “go-to person” for journalists who need information or stories about your particular area of expertise. Also, you should utilize social media to get the word out about your considerable knowledge or ability. Alternatively, write a “how-to” book strategically to position yourself as an expert. Moreover, finally, stay attuned to the newest breakthroughs in your field of expertise; people like folks who are “in the know” and remain tapped into what is current.
Be bold. It is essential to brand yourself as a gusty achiever so people will believe in you and will be clamoring to offer you new responsibilities, partnerships and opportunities. In branding as in life, a person’s success or failure is oftentimes determined by your ability to be able to take calculated risks—and be bold. Those folks who are positive and self-assured about who they are and what they have to offer the world have a brighter future and will survive no matter what difficulties come their way. Personal branding is about opportunity—when opportunity knocks, be fearless and open the door!
Always be in networking mode. Build your professional and social networks through continual engagement and repeated interaction. Your network will pay huge dividends by helping you develop a personal following that will ultimately assist you in shaping exciting business and career possibilities.
Offer free stuff and watch your contact lists grow. An incredible tool for building influence and gaining contacts is to offer your skill or services on a pro bono basis. If you create a blog, newsletters, or eBooks offer these items for free and you will capture an impressive contacts database. Also, do not forget that It is also essential to begin constructing lists from the social networks (Twitter followers, Facebook friends and LinkedIn contacts). With these simple tools, you will have a tremendous group of people that may be able to support you in reaching your career goals.
Always be developing your brand. Your brand needs to be everywhere, particularly where your target audience is searching. Promote your brand and make it so visible that folks cannot avoid seeing you everywhere…all the time! Celebrities are particularly good at this; they keep their “brand” visible, they seem to be everywhere. In fact, most superstars advertise their brand even broader than social networks; they write books, post meaningful content or produce videos highlighting their work. Brand yourself in as many places as possible and sit back and watch the results.
Be amazing. Be the person everyone is whispering about, online and off. If you have an extraordinary professional accomplishment that needs be showcased, do not hesitate to emphasize it.
Testimonials work. Testimonials establish your value, and help you to present your brand to the world. You can ring your own bell all day, but nothing is more powerful as what others are saying about you. For instance, there is incredible power in the LinkedIn endorsements. However, you must remember to reciprocate when your colleagues endorse you. As a personal brand, you should be collecting written testimonials and recommendations throughout your career.
Personal branding is about “packaging yourself,” and your success will be determined by how well your brand message comes across to your public. Whether you are a celebrity, a CEO or a small business that simply does not know where to start; personal branding is worth the effort in gaining greater visibility, growing your customer base and achieving your financial goals. So why not start today?
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