Building a personal brand is being discussed a lot in corporate circles for the past couple of years and no matter the circle, it really is a good idea to have a clearly defined personal brand. This is especially true if you are in the midst of growing your career, or finding a new position. It sounds hard, but I am here to tell you: It really isn’t all that hard.Personal Branding is about identifying and then communicating what makes you unique and relevant and differentiated for your target audience, so that you can reach your career and/or business goals. If you understand your strengths, skills, passions, and values, you can use this information to separate yourself from your competitors and really stand out.Your personal brand is more than just the brand statement you use as your elevator pitch when you introduce yourself in real-life encounters or to market yourself in your paper and online career marketing communications(resume, bio, LinkedIn profile, website, etc.).
We can get a solid start in easy seven steps
Step #1: Define your brand
The first thing you should probably understand is how to define a personal brand. I happen to subscribe to this definition:
It is the intersection of your reputation, your aspirations and who you really are as a person and a professional. Think about it this way: In terms of reputation, look at what are you known for? Or what does everyone come to you for? In terms of your aspirations, what do you hope to achieve in your career and in your personal life?
And finally, you overlay your reality. For me, I am an HR professional who is passionate about driving results with a happy workforce. So, what’s yours? Feel free to make a diagram like above for yourself; it may help refine your position. Once you have this tuned, it’s time to spread the word on your brand.
Step #2: Tidy it all up
Chances are, you are very active socially and now that you have defined your personal brand, you need to go into all of your profiles and update the information to reflect your newly defined personal brand. Your profile text should be very relevant to who you are and your pictures should also be “on brand.”
Step #3: Create and curate great content
One of the easiest and fastest ways to build credibility in your personal brand is to create and curate really great content that supports the things you stand for. For many, it is finding great articles that are in your area of expertise and sharing those out to your networks.
For example, I am passionate about creating a happy workforce, so I curate content from a number of sites dedicated to helping people get the most out of their career and their workday. The key is to pick a few focused areas to solidify that branded position among readers and followers. Use a RSS reader like Feedly.com to aggregate news from all the blogs you read so you can go to one place to see all the news you may want to curate.
Step #4: Make new connections
Use LinkedIn Groups and Twitter to create new connections. Join groups on LinkedIn that are aligned with your brand and then, start posting your great content there. But, be sure you respond to any comments that your articles may generate.
In addition, you can also join a weekly Twitter chat to network with new people on Twitter. You can find Twitter chats by going to http://blog.tweetchat.com/and seeing what might align with your passions. If you choose to get involved in a Twitter chat, be sure to actively participate, use the hashtag of the chat and follow people who are interesting. This is a great way of growing Twitter followers and establishing your brand. Plus, a company or two has been known to use Twitter chats to identify talent to connect with, so they may also lead to job opportunities.
Step #5: Try your hand at guest posting
As you start to find your voice in this conversation, don’t hesitate to reach out to a blog you follow and ask to provide content. Many times, bloggers are looking for content and are happy to give you some space. Make sure when you are pitching a story idea that it is not overtly promotional and that you have a distinct point of view on the subject.
Step #6: Deliver what you Promise
So, you have a brand and your social profiles are beautifully aligned. You contribute to the conversation in your area of expertise. But, make sure that above all, you can back it up. Make sure that if someone comes across your work, it validates you position. So, be sure that you have the experience to back that brand up.Your word is your branding iron. Be known as someone who keeps his or her commitments, such as showing up for a meeting, being on time for an appointment, getting back to people on an article you promised to send or following through on any action item you undertook in a meeting. The list of small promises we make is long; be sure to keep each one of them.
Step #7: Reinvent yourself
Periodically evaluate your personal brand to make sure it’s consistent with how you’re evolving. Dorie Clark, author of Reinventing You: Define Your Brand, Imagine Your Future, provides five tips for changing how people think about you and reinventing your personal brand:
- Build your skills. Acquire the necessary skills for your new brand to give you the confidence to own it.
- Leverage your points of difference. Be clear about what separates you from the crowd—it’s what makes you memorable.
- Develop a narrative. Develop a one- or two-sentence statement that explains your evolution.
- Reintroduce yourself. Update others’ perceptions of you by strategically re-educating those around you about your transition.
- Prove your worth. Let everyone see what you’re about and what you can do so they’re comfortable endorsing your new brand.
Like it or not, we all have a personal brand, but we don’t all manage it strategically. Whatever type of company you own, don’t leave your personal brand to chance.
Get clarity about who you are and what you have to offer the world. Craft your brand message, and develop your brand story. Let the world know what you excel in and, most important, who you are.