Creating a positive, professional identity in the business world can seem like a daunting task. The challenge is to create a personal brand that represents your identity and your accomplishments. A personal brand is the representation of what you have done, what you can do, and what you want to accomplish both for yourself and for your team.
A great way to understand personal branding is to see yourself as a product.
“Starting today you are a brand.
You're every bit as much a brand as Nike, Coke, Pepsi, or the Body Shop. To start thinking like your own favorite brand manager, ask yourself the same question the brand managers at Nike, Coke, Pepsi, or the Body Shop ask themselves: What is it that my product or service does that makes it different?
Start by identifying the qualities or characteristics that make you distinctive from your competitors —. What have you done lately — this week — to make yourself stand out? What would your colleagues or your customers say is your greatest and clearest strength? Your most noteworthy (as in, worthy of note) personal trait?”
--Tom Peters, The Brand Called You, Fast Company, 1997.
Personal branding is not about being vain, petty, or impersonal. Personal branding is about finding, advertising, and truly representing your accomplishments and potential to others so that you can create more success and accomplish your goals. Your brand is how you help the world and help yourself in a way that is open, connected, personal, and caring.
Social media and blogging can help you establish and promote your own personal brand. Follow these six tips to help capture and express your personal brand and demonstrate what you can do for others.
Personal Branding Tip #1 – Give Your Social Media Accounts the Same Look & Feel. Your social media sites need to look, feel, and appear the same. Think of one of your favorite consumer items. No matter the size, the quality of the item is the same, the product packages have the same look, and the same ingredients are used in all the items. Your social media sites should be integrated and represented the same way that different product sizes are represented. You should have the same name on your social media accounts, the same description, the same picture, and the same background image and colors. No matter if someone finds you on Twitter, Facebook, Google+, or your website, you provide the same professional image and representation to all your followers. Think of yourself as a product on a store shelf. You want to be instantly recognizable, represent trust and quality, and fully demonstrate your professional qualities. Keep your postings on Social Media professional, to the point, and avoid controversial and unprofessional comments that may reflect poorly. Keep in mind that every posting will follow you for life.
Personal Branding Tip #2 – Become a Subject Matter Expert and a Thought Leader. Creating a personal brand is about being recognized as a leader and / or an expert. An expert or an industry thought leader is someone who has something consistently new and practical to state about a particular field of study, a social issue, a specific industry, or an occupational field. Follow other industry experts and thought leaders in your area of expertise on social media. Finally, start to write and publish articles and small observations in newspapers, on professional journals, and industry newsletters. Link and use all of your social media platforms to distribute your written content and help other thought leaders do the same. This way, no matter what social media platform you use, it will link to all of your written and professional content. Remember that being a leader is about leading, not recognition. Accolades can sometimes take years to come.
Personal Branding Tip #3 – Start or Continue a Blog. Blogs are one of the primary ways to demonstrate your presence, creativity, and longevity as an expert. Blogs are written and graphic contributions to your personal brand that demonstrate your insight, creativity, leadership, and beliefs on thought provoking and challenging issues related to your area of expertise. Blogging should also be used to help cross promote others that share and support your own set of beliefs. Blogging should also be cross promoted across different blogging platforms such as Medium, LinkedIn Pulse and others – post content to where your readers are and encourage everyone to share.
Personal Branding Tip #4 – Take On or Find Special Projects. Special projects for your community or created by your own initiative are an amazing avenue to promote and demonstrate your personal brand. In order to describe the full impact of special projects, set out to tell a story using both words and pictures. Let the pictures highlight the before, during, and after results that really show the improvement. The words must describe the journey to success: (1) What was the problem you discovered, (2) what were the challenges to make it better, (3) how did you initially fail, (4) what was the successful solution, and (5) what did you learn.
Personal Branding Tip #5 – Write For Print & On-Line Publications. Writing for both on-line and traditional media is an excellent way to demonstrate your personal brand, but it can take a while. Blogging is the best way to start to get noticed and submitting stories and story ideas directly to editors is the next best idea. Editors need well written and directly submitted content to remain relevant in the fast news cycle of the Internet. Providing good content to publications helps your brand and helps editors remain relevant.
Personal Branding Tip #6 – Maintain a Good Personal Website. A good personal website should highlight your contributions, what your personal brand represents, and it should remain timeless so it is a true representation of your own personal contributions. The website design should be simple, mobile friendly, and direct visitors where they can learn more about you, access your blogs, see examples of your work, learn about projects you completed, and know how to contact you. Great websites do not have to be complex. Great websites need to be content rich so people will return to them frequently and use your website as a resource in their lives.
Personal Branding Tip #7 – Post Regularly Across Social Media. Social Media is the collection of different social media platforms (i.e. Facebook, Twitter, etc.) where you build, develop, and expand your brand presence on a daily basis. Social Media posts are best when they are direct, precisely written, exceedingly professional, and each and every post builds your personal brand in some small way. Various Social Media aggregator platforms can help this process greatly by helping you organize content and then posting throughout the day.
Building a personal brand takes time, dedication, and an intense desire to care for your customers by delivering content that is fresh, new, and exciting. These seven steps help you build and maintain a brand that is truly memorable:
#1 – Give Your Social Media Accounts the Same Look & Feel
#2 – Become a Subject Matter Expert and a Though Leader
#3 – Start or Continue a Blog
#4 – Take On or Find Special Projects
#5 – Write for Print & On-Line Publications
#6 – Maintain a Good Personal Website
#7 – Post Regularly Across Social Media
Have you created a personal brand? What is your top tip? Share your advice in the comments below.
About the blogger:
Chad is the author of two books: (1) Combat Leader to Corporate Leader and (2) Battlefield to Business Success. Chad’s brand message is that organizations & individuals need to translate and apply military skills to business because they immediately produce results and are cost effective. Chad is a retired US Army Special Forces Lieutenant Colonel with 20+ years of Active and Reserve service in infantry, Special Forces, and joint headquarters units. He served in Iraq, Bosnia, Korea, and throughout the United States. He was awarded the Bronze Star, the Combat Infantryman Badge, the Meritorious Service Medal, the Special Forces Tab, and the Ranger Tab. Chad is an adjunct Lecturer of Marketing at Creighton University in Omaha, NE. In addition to teaching, he is a mid-level marketing executive and has worked in marketing and sales roles for various companies, including General Electric, Comcast, and Manugistics. He has been published in over 110 different articles in over 85 separate publications including The Harvard Business Review blog, Business Week Online, Forbes, Christian Science Monitor, and USA Today. He has a BA from Northwestern University and an MBA from Georgetown University.
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