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You are what you Tweet: Personal Branding

Whether you are a consultant, a leader, a recent graduate or an entrepreneur, having a strong and unique personal brand can get you noticed by prospective clients, business partners, and employers. 

Companies have long known the power of branding – today the same concepts can have a huge return for personal success. Performance is important, but believe it or not, professional success can be just as dependent on your personal brand. In today’s multi-cultural, global business world, organizations expect employees to build relationships while achieving desired results.

Understanding and controlling your personal brand can help you:

  • Establish expertise as a thought leader;
  • Find a new job, or have opportunities for advancement;
  • Create opportunities and partnerships;
  • Improve networking;
  • Build credibility and connections.

Personal branding is not only important to individuals, but corporations as well. Strong personal brands add value to corporate brands. It can increase publicity and visibility and build organizational credibility. Having employee personal brands that are aligned with our corporate brand also gives a human connection to the organization.

Let’s get one thing clear – a Brand is not a logo. A brand is an experience you create, a collection of perceptions in the mind of your audience. Think about some prominent Canadian personal brands; Mayor Naheed Nenshi, Don Cherry, or Chris Hadfield. What are they known for? What do they stand for? Do you have a set of expectations for those individuals? Personal brands allow individuals to differentiate themselves by consistently telling their unique story.

Without personal branding you can become a commodity, lose your competitive edge, miss out on career or contact opportunities, and limit your reach. Here are 4 steps to personal branding:

1. Take Inventory of Your Brand

Take some time to gain insights on yourself. Ask yourself questions like:

  • What do you value?
  • What are you passionate about?
  • What motivates you to reach your goals?
  • What makes you remarkable?

Next, actually ask some of your contacts to provide their insights. If that’s not possible, try to imagine how others would describe you.

  • What are compliments that you typically get?
  • What are you known for?
  • What questions are people always coming to you for?
  • Why are you chosen or not chosen for specific projects?

2. Develop a Plan

Much like a company would do, create a personal brand statement. Identify a target market (perhaps by niche or job title, think about who you solve problems for). Next, define how you get the job done differently and what the benefits of that outcome is. Lastly, provide a reason to believe. Here are a couple of examples of what a brand statement might sound like;

“I am an accountant who helps owners of small manufacturing businesses develop and execute long-term plans that guarantee firm continuity. No other Chartered Accountant in the market can combine innovative problem solving with resources, industry contacts, and experience like I do.”

“I am a senior marketing leader who enables mid-size organizations to reach the next level by translating research into insight-driven strategic plans and managing campaigns that guarantee business results. I have over 12 years of business, marketing, and sales experience across dozens of industries that allows me to align data, art, and intelligence.”

3. Communicate Your Personal Brand

 When you are communicating your personal brand keep in mind credibility, consistency, relevancy and a bit of humility. There are a number of tangible and intangible tools you can use to communicate your personal brand.

TangibleIntangible
LinkedIn Profile (image and content)
Website
Blogs
Podcast
Social Networks
Events
Off-line Publishing
Speaking Engagements
Business Cards
Resume
Appearances
Competencies
Personality
Personal Vision and Goals
Values
Consistency

4. Measure and Maintain

Just like any plan, if you want it to work, you need to set goals to measure and make adjustments along the way. Set Google Alerts for your name, your company’s name, and any associations you belong to. Set goals for things like posting on social networks, writing an article, or simply engaging in relevant conversations online. You can put a quick reminder once a week in your calendar. Set goals for networking events and cultivate existing relationships. Try to lead every new relationship with something you have to offer, be genuinely interested and helpful in your exchanges.

The key to your personal brand is YOU! Make sure you are authentic and you evolve to stay relevant. Tom Peters, a management guru says, “We are CEOs of our own companies: Me Inc. To be in business today, our most important job is to be head marketing for the brand called you.”

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Jenelle Peterson
About the Author - Jenelle Peterson
What do Oil and Gas, IT, Duct Tape and Dental Products have in common? Seemingly not much, but they've taught Jenelle that great marketing leads to measurable results - regardless of the industry or product. She brings an extensive background in developing strategic plans and executing marketing campaigns on both client and agency sides - from start-ups to multinational organizations.  Jenelle loves the outdoors, making bad art, and all things Sci-Fi. As if that weren't enough, she is also a board member for the Calgary Marketing Association and teaches part-time in digital marketing.

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