What's Your Personal Brand? Tips for Self Promotion

 


"Brand" is fast becoming a household term interchanged with "product," "trademark," or "company." Some brands, such as Kleenex, Xerox, and Google, have become so ubiquitous that their names are synonymous with items or actions that the brand represents (Kleenex = tissue, Xerox = copy, Google = look up).

In today's crowded, competitive world where everyone and everything clambers for recognition, even people are brands. Iconic people--like Lady Gaga and Lebron James--actually work hard at maintaining their personal brands. A personal brand comes from a passion, a guiding principle, vision, or skill that shapes one's differentiated attributes. It's focused and specific. It's a unique positioning statement. Others understand it instantly.

Check out Dan Schawbel, a guru of personal branding.



Shape your personal brand statement. You don't have to be a pop star or sports hero to create and project your personal brand. You do need to know your passions and skills that set you apart from the crowd. You need to learn how to convey your brand to others via your brand statement. It's worth the effort to figure out what drives you professionally (passions and skills) and create a brand statement that encapsulates your brand.


Why? You want to build trusting relationships with others who can help you and vice versa. You want to be the "go-to" guy or gal people think of because you're an expert on your subject matter. Here's how to approach it:
  • Make a list of skills you're really good at.
  • Now make a list of the accomplishments you're most proud of.
  • Ask work colleagues, family members, and friends to tell you what they think you're good at.
  • From the information above, craft a brand statement about yourself in three to four sentences. (Don't confuse "brand statement" with "elevator pitch," which is more of a selling proposition than a brand statement.)
  • If you don't believe your personal brand statement, revise it until you do. Be as specific as you can be. Inspire others to want to know more about you.
  • Tweak your brand statement as you gain expertise in your field. A career change will require you to revise your brand statement altogether.
Here's a cool blog about writing personal brand statements.


Promote your personal brand. Whether or not you're looking for a job or you want to advance in your industry, it's important to maintain and update your personal brand. To illustrate, there are few things more exasperating than wasting time searching for the latest information on outdated Web sites. Keeping a current profile with updated contact information goes for all venues you use to promote yourself, including:
  • Business cards--don't leave home/the office without them! While online social networks are useful, nothing beats the value of face-to-face connections. Invite people you meet to continue the connection through your online sites indicated on your business card. Here's some good advice about business card design.
  • Professional and social networking functions. Learn about the trade association groups in your profession. Most have local chapters that hold events for members and non-members. Find the ones with which you resonate. Their meetings open doors to contacts who can help you. Serve on boards or as a volunteer in these organizations to bolster your brand.
  • Online social networks. It's pretty much the norm to have an online presence for professional purposes. Having a LinkedIn profile is a must for personal brand promotion, even if you're not in the job market. Twitter is another tool for promoting your personal brand. Facebook and MySpace pages may also be appropriate for you. Personal Web sites and blogs provide excellent venues to showcase your expertise. Invest time in researching social networking sites and choose which one(s) are most relevant for you. Start by following company and personal brands you admire. Many cities have social media clubs that offer workshops on the various sites. Once inside the online social networking sphere, you must commit to keeping your online presence current.
Managing your online reputation. You wouldn't go to a formal company dinner party in Bermuda shorts and flip flops. (Perhaps Lady Gaga would, but that's HER personal shock-and-awe brand statement!) The same goes for how you present yourself online. Remember that anything you post online can either serve or sabotage you. Use your best judgment in composing comments on your own or others' sites. Think twice before uploading those bacchanalian revelry videos or wet t-shirt contest photos on FB or YouTube. You may think that you're sending a harmlessly cute picture or innocent criticism to a close friend, but instead you're sending it to the entire world--including a prospective boss or client. Clean up your online profile. From here on out, pledge to make sure that what you enter online is a true reflection of the personal brand you're most proud of.


Would you share your personal brand statement with other Savvy Intrapreneurs? If so, enter it in the comment box below.


Karen A. Meek is a senior communications strategist. Follow her @KarenMeekTweets.