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Personal Development

Steps in Personal Branding

This article focuses on teaching you how to brand yourself professionally, we discuss the value of personal branding, the steps in personal branding.

The First Key Steps in Personal Branding

Building your own personal brand is a lot like what big corporations do when they’re branding a product or service. The process has to start with good, in-depth research.

Discovering Your Brand

Marketers call this first step brand discovery, which means doing thorough research into the nature of the brand and what it means. Discovering your personal brand typically involves some real soul-searching.

  1. You need to ask yourself what you want to be known for, not just now, but for the rest of your career. Are you all about strength? Painstaking attention to detail? Smarts? Cool-headed leadership?
  2. Next, think about your passions. What do you care about most deeply – what makes you want to come to work each morning? What core values motivate you? Are you driven by devotion to family, commitment to your community, concern for the environment?
  3. Then, what do you bring to the table? What are your greatest talents? What professional accomplishments best illustrate those talents?
  4. Finally, what makes you better than the rest? Marketers call this the unique selling proposition, the one quality that differentiates you from all your competitors.

Your Personal Branding Statement

Once you’ve thought through the steps of brand discovery, formulate a brief statement that encompasses these qualities. This is a personal branding statement—also known as a value statement—a sentence or two that describes who you are and how you can make a tangible difference for others. Think of it like an elevator pitch. It needs to convey the essence of your personal brand quickly and succinctly.

Your personal branding statement should be designed with a specific target audience in mind: your current boss, potential future bosses, current or future clients – whomever you’re trying to reach. The goal is to catch the attention of members of that target audience, not to tell them your entire life story. It’s a high-level description of what makes you uniquely valuable; it shouldn’t get bogged down with your work history or past job titles.

Some personal-brand specialists warn against writing a branding statement in the first person, while others say that it’s permissible and a good way to avoid conventional “résumé-speak.” There’s no consensus here, so you should do what feels most comfortable to you.

Here are a couple of examples:

An award-winning writer with 20 years of experience in high-level market research, using that unique skill set – coupled with a passion for language – to help companies break through to their target audiences with powerful, precise messaging. (Public relations consultant)

Known for my aesthetic sense and painstaking attention to detail, I help companies create functional-but-fun workplaces that boost employee morale, enhance productivity, and knock the socks off of their clients. (Corporate space planner).

The Next Key Steps in Personal Branding

Promoting Your Brand Online

Online brand development is essentially about promotion: it’s a way to get the world to find and learn about your brand. You’ll want to develop a robust web presence, all of whose elements consistently reinforce your personal brand. Those elements should include:

  • Your own domain. You need a headquarters for your brand: YourName.com.
  • Your own blog. Your website should include a blog, to let you air your ideas on topics related to your brand. If you’re more comfortable with a video format, you can include a link to your YouTube channel, or embed rich media directly into your page.
  • Social media sites. LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, and Google+ are all useful tools in promoting your brand. There are many others, of course — too many, in fact, for you to think of covering all of them. Pick three or four social media sites and spend the time to update them frequently.

Building Your Brand Offline

If online brand development is all about promotion, offline brand development is about adding value to your brand.

You add value to your brand by:

Gaining experience

Gaining experience. Seek out job challenges that will give you additional experience in your current work area, or – even more important – fill in the gaps in your background by volunteering for new assignments that are outside your comfort zone. Gaining new knowledge and expanding your skill set will make you more valuable to employers and clients.

Expanding your circle of relationships

Business, when all is said and done, is about relationships. People are inclined to do business with those they know and trust. The more people you know, the more opportunities you will have to gain their trust, and ultimately prove your value to them.

Finding a mentor

Getting ahead in any career is tough; having a mentor can make it a little easier. A mentor can introduce you to new and important contacts, and provide advice not only on the technical challenges of your job, but also the intangibles (including office politics and corporate culture) that are often keys to success.

Becoming an expert

Becoming recognized as an expert in some field related to your work increases your perceived value to employers and clients, and adds to the unique selling proposition that forms the basis of your brand. This takes real effort: on the substantive level, you need to gain meaningful expertise in an area that matters to your target audience. And on the promotional level, you need to demonstrate your expertise over and over again in blog posts, trade journal articles, speeches, and seminars.

Review Checkpoint

To test your understanding of the content presented in this assignment, please click your selected response to see feedback displayed below it. 

1. Why might it be important to have your own domain?

a. So that there is a single hub connecting all online brand assets.

Incorrect. Try again.

b. So that individuals searching for you can easily find you.

Incorrect. Try again.

c. So that you can refer business professionals to a one-stop place with your talents, accomplishments, and expertise.

Incorrect. Try again.

d. All of the above.

Correct. Having your own domain serves as a headquarters for your brand. It houses your professional accomplishments and expertise, it connects all other online assets, and it ensures that you can easily be found if people are searching for you.

2. Which is NOT a way to build your brand offline?

a. Volunteering for new assignments outside of your comfort zone

Incorrect. Try again.

b. Finding a mentor that can offer insight and guidance when needed

Incorrect. Try again.

c. Cultivating a robust social media audience.

Correct. Obviously, social media is an online means to promote and build a personal brand.

d. Acquiring and demonstrating subject matter expertise

Incorrect. Try again.

3. What does it mean to do personal brand discovery?

a. To discover brands that embody your business values.

Incorrect. Try again.

b. To write a sentence or two that sums up the essence of your personal brand for others.

Incorrect. Try again.

c. To choose a particular career or industry.

Incorrect. Try again.

d. To define your unique talents, motivations, accomplishments, and advantages.

Correct. Brand discovery involves defining your unique talents, motivations, accomplishments, and advantages.

4. Which of the following describes a well-crafted personal branding statement?

a. It should be lengthy and detailed.

Incorrect. A personal branding statement should consist of only one or two sentences. Try again.

b. It includes your unique selling proposition.

Correct. A personal branding statement should focus on whatever sets you apart from your colleagues and competitors.

c. It should be written to appeal to the widest possible audience.

Incorrect. A personal branding statement should be narrowly tailored to appeal to your specific target audience. Try again.

d. It should focus only on qualifications and experience that are directly related to your job.

Incorrect. A well-crafted personal branding statement should try to convey a sense of who you are, including your values and passions. Try again.

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