Every professional should create and maintain a personal brand to distinguish themselves and support their careers
In recent years, there has been a lot of conversation about “personal branding.” Some professionals have found the topic confusing or simply irrelevant. Others have embraced the concept, worked hard to develop their own personal brands, and found great success in the effort.
Career and professional development coaches are primarily interested in what personal branding can do for their clients’ careers. In a competitive job market, having a compelling personal brand can be a distinct advantage. The personal brand also provides professionals with an extra dimension of focus, clarity, and purpose – elevating their career management results.
The following points for should help any data management professional develop and maintain a strong personal brand.
What is “personal branding” and what are its benefits?
The word “brand” is very closely aligned with terms like “reputation” and “presence.” Personal branding is about creating and managing the perception of you that you desire to demonstrate. Having a brand ideally means that you have a recognized “voice” in your field, you know “what you’re about,” and you know where you’re headed. For example, the “branding statement” at the top of a resume states exactly what role the candidate plays in the business world and what he or she wants in the future.
As an expert explained, “You must become known as THE person who does X; as THE person who is the best at X; as THE person who everybody thinks of when X is needed. You need to be top-of-mind whenever people need what you offer!” In personal branding, perception is reality! And personal branding for professionals is all about creating a fine-tuned perception of YOU.
The difference between someone who has a personal brand and someone who doesn’t is decision. One person decided at some point to develop and maintain their brand; the other person never made such a decision. Don’t wait for your personal brand to emerge based on external inputs from employers, co-workers, clients, or friends. Instead, be proactive in creating it.
Entrepreneurs, independent consultants, and freelancers usually create personal brands to grow their businesses and showcase their capabilities. It is equally important for employees to embrace personal branding since it provides many professional career benefits. Remember that a job can end or be taken away, but your personal brand is yours for as long as you maintain it.
The idea of personal branding can have a negative impression since it reminds people of selling. But building your personal brand is very different from selling. In selling, you are “pushing” your service or product. When you have successfully developed your personal brand, people are attracted to you like a magnet. They’re “pre-sold” by virtue of your exceptional visibility and credibility. Indeed, having a strong personal brand means that you won’t have to keep chasing after clients, customers, or employers. Instead, others are attracted to you and your demonstrated capabilities.
Personal branding is the act of confidently stepping into your aspirational self in advance. Stated differently, your personal brand is who and what you will become when you are at your full potential. Each professional should fully “own” this persona, invest in it, and be dedicated to it completely.
To be most authentic, a professional’s personal brand must be fully aligned with their core values to articulate your values from your deepest truth. Be sure your personal brand is consistent across all documents and platforms, in a unified campaign. This is part of a long-term “personal brand marketing plan.”
To solidify a professional personal brand, build extreme expertise in a specific area of knowledge and skill – as much as possible. An effective brand cannot be built on false promises or fantasies; one earns “brand trust” over time. Build a portfolio of examples, accomplishments, credentials, or products to demonstrate your mastery.
Effective personal branding helps to distinguish yourself as a thought-leader and expert in your niche, clearly differentiating you from other candidates.
Identify and create a personal professional brand
The following questions can form the foundation to identify your personal brand as a professional:
- What are your core values and how do they contribute to your profession and career?
- How would you describe your specific niche in your profession?
- What makes you stand out in your profession? Differentiation factors?
- What do people say about you in your field and in your niche?
- What is your USP (Unique Selling Proposition)? Unique talents and skills?
- What is your mission or purpose in your field?
- Where and when do you add the most value? How?
- What do people say is most memorable or unique about you?
- What skills or abilities come most easily to you?
- Where and when have you received special recognition or praise? Credentials?
- What kind of help do people always come to you for?
- What do you see yourself doing in the future?
Strategies for building a personal brand
- Conduct presentations, seminars, interviews, workshops, and webinars (and record the audio/video)
- Create your own website, and be a guest contributor to other websites and publications
- Write articles, blogs, booklets, special reports, book reviews, newsletters, social media posts, and books (there is a never-ending need for content)
- Associate yourself with the most accomplished, inspiring people (the true experts in your field)
- Assume leadership positions in professional associations and organizations, and become an advisor or join boards if possible
- Continually build your online persona by engaging with others, posting comments, participating in LinkedIn groups, etc.
- Develop a strong social media presence across multiple platforms that is positive, consistent, and compelling
- Do something noteworthy in your industry, community, or organization which may garner special recognition
- Enter professional contests or competitions where you have a reasonable chance of winning an award or being honored (and then promote it)
You are the most powerful tool to market yourself. However, to further enhance your personal brand, solicit extensive “third-party validation.” Your mission is to have many other people saying how wonderful you are at what you do. This includes testimonials, letters of recommendation, LinkedIn recommendations, endorsements, and referrals. Referrals lead to one-on-one networking meetings, which is a critical channel for brand-building.
Building a professional personal brand can take time and energy, especially at first, but over time the process becomes easier. Having a personal brand can serve as a powerful component if it is maintained and does not become stagnant. Continue to develop and nurture your personal brand as it evolves over the course of your life and career.
Carefully monitor and curate your professional personal brand, like the public relations messaging of a large company. Maintain your branding behavior and continue following your “personal brand marketing plan” throughout your career, regardless of your employment status to realize enormous benefits.
A version of this article was originally published at: https://careerpotential.com/career-advice-article/about-personal-branding/