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Everything You Need to Start Building Your Personal Brand Right

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What is a Personal Brand?

Your personal brand is your unique value articulated in a compelling, genuine, consistent and visible way. Your personal brand is held in the minds of others: it is how people feel about what do you do, why do you do it, who you do it for, and why you’re different. Your personal brand is your single most powerful tool in attaining career success. It answers the most important question about you: Why are you your audience’s absolute best choice for what you do? It applies many principles of corporate branding to you as an individual.

A strong personal brand makes people go out of their way to work with you and refer you to their friends, colleagues and clients. It establishes you as the “go-to person” in your field. It communicates a clear, consistent and compelling message that attracts the kind of people and opportunities that make your life fulfilling.

The goal of developing your personal brand is to differentiate yourself from the competition, and to attract ideal opportunities that put your abilities to work in a way that gives you meaning. It is the best way to manage your career today because it makes you irreplaceable to your particular audience.

Why Uncover and Develop Your Personal Brand?

Personal branding is a journey towards a happier and more successful life. It emerges from your search for your identity. It powerfully and clearly states what you want based on your values, vision and strengths. It promotes yourself based on who you are, what you stand for, what makes you unique, and what your purpose is. It is a path to self-awareness, joy and self-esteem. It is NOT creating and marketing a made up image - that’s the exact opposite of personal branding. Personal branding is 100% authentically YOU.

People often describe a strong personal brand as a magnet that attracts clients, job offers and opportunities. That’s because personal branding shows a specific group of people you are the only solution to their problem. You are not just better than your competitors - you are the only choice for a certain group of people with a particular need.

In a nutshell, your personal brand communicates:

  1. Who do you serve? What group of people is your audience?
  2. What do you do best?
  3. Why do you do what you do? What motivates you and gives you meaning?
  4. How are you different from your peers? What makes you the only choice?

How Do I Develop My Personal Brand?

Personal branding begins with some soul-searching to ensure your brand is genuine and authentic. The first step is to identify what gives you fulfillment in life. What drives you? What are you passionate about? What kinds of activities give you meaning? What do you love to do? These questions help articulate the “what drives you,” or “why” part of your personal brand. It reveals your intentions genuinely and clearly. When people know the source of your career energy, they feel better about putting you in charge of their needs.

Next, identify what you do best. How do your your passions intersect with your skills? What are you great at? What could you do all day without getting bored? What abilities do you have that consistently impress other people? These questions help articulate the “what you do” part of your personal brand. This is the need that you solve, and the reason that employers will pay you (or why clients/customers will refer you to their friends) to solve their problems.

Next, identify what makes you different from others in your field by examining your values. Do certain values drive your work ethic, such as beauty, integrity, humor, creativity or quality? Examining your values helps articulate the “what makes you different” part of your personal brand. Your values play a large role in differentiating you from your competition and provide a reason to choose you over your peers. When your values resonate with a potential employer or client, you will connect on a deeper level.

Next, identify your audience. What kind of people do you love working with? Do you prefer young children over adults, environmentally conscious people, small business owners, musicians, or the developmentally disabled? These questions help identify the “who you serve,” or audience portion of your personal brand. Personal branding is all about becoming the best at something for a certain group of people. Who will those people be?

Next, put these answers together in a compelling and genuine way. Now that you’ve done some soul-searching and laid the foundation of your brand, it’s time to show people why you’re the answer to their problems. Work on developing a polished way to talk about yourself that attracts the kinds of opportunities that bring you meaningful work. This will unify the multiple independent aspects of your brand into one clear, compelling and cohesive statement. (A future blog post will specifically address how to bring your brand together and communicate it in a compelling way, resulting in your personal brand message).

Integrate your personal brand into all aspects of your career. Your resume, bio, cover letter, web presence, interview stories, business card and email signature should all reflect the values and language used in your personal brand message. This builds brand awareness with everyone you come into contact with and increases the likelihood that people come to you with opportunities related to your brand.

Create a home online for your personal brand. People immediately go to Google for a reference check, whether they just met you at a networking event or want to hire you. That means you need to establish a web presence for your brand. Your web presence should revolve around your personal website, which should ideally be www.[yourname].com. Your website acts as the online hub for your brand. It is where people searching for you in Google will get a true taste of you who are, where readers of your business card, email signature, social network profile, etc. will go to find out more about you. It is your chance to wow and emotionally connect viewers your brand. It is your first and most important impression, and your best chance to win over new visitors from the get-go.

Increase your rank in Google results when your named is searched. The technical term for this step is Search Engine Optimization. Learn how to increase the position of your site in Google search results to increase your brand’s visibility and make it easy to find you online.

Consistently communicate your personal brand through multiple channels. You should be posting comments on blogs, submitting tips on forums, answering questions on Q&A databases, writing book reviews, adding value to wiki articles, participating in social networks and posting original content (articles or media) related to your field. Go to conferences and events related to your area of expertise, meet people will similar passions and work on projects that excite you. These actions develop your brand’s presence within your niche, and demonstrate your passion and active participation in your field.

Establish credibility within your area of expertise online. The best way to gain credibility online is to create on-brand content related to your field. Starting a blog, contributing to other blogs or writing web articles/e-books/newsletters useful to members of your niche are excellent ways to establish yourself as a thought leader in your area of expertise. Offline, start a business, write a book, join professional organizations, take courses and get certified in areas that will increase the influence of your opinion.

Actively developing your personal branding means laying the groundwork now for a happier and more successful life later. It is a genuine process of figuring out what you want to do, who you want to do it for, and then making yourself known to those people as the best solution to their problems. If you haven’t started building your personal brand, the time to start is now. Here are some quick and easy first steps to get you started.

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Tracecohen Uploaded 11/06/2008
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