4 Steps for Building a Compelling Personal Brand
There’s a reason that you consistently buy your coffee from the same place or insist on only using Apple products. Sure, part of it may be your great taste. But your favorite companies have also created successful and compelling corporate brands, which communicate exactly what they’re about and what you can expect.
Your personal brand can do the same, and in the process improve career connections, open doors for promotions, and even put you on a path to your dream job. But like anything worthwhile, creating a personal brand takes thought and time. It’s more than just updating your LinkedIn profile or retweeting your favorite bloggers. Building your own brand is a strategic process that can ultimately help you align your passion and values with your personal and professional life.
Here are four steps to help you create a powerful personal brand that makes people take notice:
1. Take a stand.
You can’t be everything to everyone, so don’t bother trying. Instead, reflect on your unique value, your passion and purpose. Understanding what matters to you most will provide a framework for all you’ve done, as well as the work you want to do, the people you want to associate with, and the areas you want to develop.
- What do I stand for?
- What assets, skills, and talents do I possess that support my stance?
- What do others perceive as my most valuable assets?
That last question is especially important. By asking a few important people in your life—co-workers, mentors, and friends—to be candid, you’ll gain a 360-degree view of yourself, and possibly uncover strengths you don’t know you have.
2. Express yourself.
Once you’ve determined what’s important to you and the value you can offer others, it’s time to tell the right people.
First, identify your personal target market. Is it your co-workers? Your entire industry? Potential employers? All of those people, and others? Next, develop a personal PR plan that communicates your brand to your audience in multiple ways. For example, if you’re passionate about marketing, highlight that in your cover letter, start a blog on the topic, or volunteer your marketing skills to a nonprofit.
The bottom line: Share your knowledge and your skills freely, and soon people will seek you out.
3. Be memorable.
Whether you’re in Tampa or Tokyo, when you walk into a Starbucks you know what to expect. For your personal brand, consistency is also crucial. Consider all the ways you make an impression, from your behavior and appearance to your living and work spaces to your online presence. Then, make sure each one reflects your brand.
For example, if you want to highlight your creativity and penchant for innovation, consider wearing bold colors, designing a unique business card, and decorating your office with fun art. Or if you’re business analyst, you might showcase your organizational and communication skills via a neatly arranged work space, a reputation for thoughtful slide decks and a consistently professional appearance. You’ll reinforce your message across various aspects of your life, and create an impression people will remember.
4. Fake it till you make it.
Sure, your brand is about who are, but it’s also about who you want to be. Sometimes, though, believing that you can achieve your biggest goals can be challenging, especially early in your career. The secret: fake it until you make it. Believe in yourself and explore ways to build your confidence and get out of your comfort zone. For great tips on how to use your body language to reduce social anxiety and build a positive self-image, listen to social psychologist Amy Cuddy’s TED Talk, Your Body Language Shapes Who You Are. You’ll discover new ways to show your value and ultimately live your brand in an authentic way.
Building your personal brand is a process, and your brand may even evolve as your values and priorities shift. Being strategic about communicating who you are and what you want will not only spur career success, but will also put you on a path toward a more fulfilling and rewarding life. Want to take a deeper dive into personal branding? Upcoming posts will cover ways to craft a personal brand statement and how to be memorable and distinct in communicating your unique value.