Build Your Personal Brand
ETP Professional Member since 2008 and Co-Author of fast selling book Win the Race for 21st Century Jobs and CEO of ETP member partner, MeridiaSystems.com
The title of this article is a bit misleading. It suggests that you don’t currently have a personal brand and that you’ll schedule sometime next week to build one.
Actually, that’s not the case. We all have personal brands whether we realize it or not and whether we like it or not. Our brands are our reputations … and everybody has one.
In spite of this, it’s still possible to build a personal brand “from the ground up” as long as we realize that the construction effort will be running parallel to what already exists in the minds of others.
Building a personal brand begins with two key preparation steps followed by a four-phase process.
Preparation, Step 1: End State Vision
Begin the preparation work by establishing an “end state vision” for your brand. Ask yourself “What do I want to be known for?” Think in terms of Stephen Covey’s famous principle “Begin with the end in mind.” Don’t be alarmed by some cluelessness at this stage; the initial floundering is actually quite healthy for the completion of the discovery phase (below).
Preparation, Step 2: Planning and Organization
In this part of the preparation, you need to gradually become the world’s leading expert on you! The mission here is to figure out “What makes me tick?” Don’t rely totally on your own instincts; seek out objective analyses such as the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator and candid feedback from friends and colleagues. In managing your career as a business, think in terms of what your personal mission, vision and values are. And the most important preparatory step of all: Develop a rock-solid value proposition so that you know – with absolutely zero ambiguity – the unique value you provide to others.
Phase 1: Discovery
In this initial phase, you’ll conduct a brand audit (i.e., finding out what’s already “out there” wit your distinctive imprint on it); conduct inter-views with colleagues, clients and employers who know you well; and develop a “brand at-tribute profile” in which you force yourself to prioritize attributes and values that are critical to capturing the essence of who you really are. Along the way, you’ll gradually develop a list of “keywords” that will tag you in such a way so that Google searchers can easily find you. The goal of this phase is twofold: (1) to discover your core attributes and (2) to ensure that your value proposition accurately reflects them.
Phase 2: Development
The development phase is all about establishing a brand message which captures the Phase 1 results. This could be something as simple as a 30-second elevator pitch or as complex as a logo/tag line visual identity. Whatever form it ends up taking, it must meet some rigid criteria in order to help generate a viable brand, e.g., (a) What clear benefits do you offer to the marketplace? (b) What differentiates you from everyone else in the same business or industry? (c) What relevance does your brand have in the marketplace? and (d) Is your brand authentic and genuine? etc. Your ability to capture a unique message that defines you with respect to these criteria is critical because you can’t always be physically present to articulate your brand; thus your business name, unique title, tagline, logo, etc… must do the talking for you.
Phase 3: Deployment
By now, you have completed the hardest part of evolving your brand into a meaningful, recognizable, and value-added message. The deployment phase is where you will actually begin disseminating your brand out into the world via things like networking events, web sites, blogs, social media conversations, press releases, an elevator pitch, business cards, a letterhead, a distinctive e-mail signature, a powerful and fully optimized LinkedIn profile, etc… In this phase of brand-building, you must always be thinking about the clarity and consistency of your brand message as well as the frequency with which you deploy it.
Phase 4: Maintenance
Now that you’ve established your brand and deployed it through numerous channels both on and off the Internet, it’s time to safeguard your newly developed brand through reputation management, including actions such as Google Alerts, making use of web sites such as reputation.com, and periodically reviewing posts about what’s being said about you.
Some Final Thoughts
1. If you don’t already have a personal web site, get one. Your web site should be all about marketing.
2. If you don’t already have a blog, get one. Your blog gives you the opportunity to establish authority.
3. If your LinkedIn profile isn’t optimized, get it optimized. Your LinkedIn profile is the best single branding venue you have.
4. If you aren’t engaged in social media, be-come engaged. Social media (and the ability to cross-connect your posts) is like an enormous “brand deployment switchboard.”
A personal brand is not difficult to build but it is time-consuming. Making the decision to move forward with a project like this means making a firm commitment to improving your career situation and financial status.
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