Personal Branding—What Is It and How Do I Do It?

By Debra Wheatman

Brand Key Shows Branding Trademark Or Label

I get questions all the time about what exactly is a personal brand, and what it is to have a personal brand. There is certainly a lot of confusion out there about this, so this week’s blog is devoted to bringing about not only a better understanding of what personal branding is but why you must have one in order to stand out in the highly competitive digital marketplace.

First and foremost, as with corporate branding, personal branding is not a logo or a tagline. At its core, personal branding is the experience that you create when people interact with you. It is the signature voice, style, and knowledge that you impart to the world. People want to do business with other people, not with nameless, faceless corporations. Your brand is uniquely yours, and it is the most portable component of your professional background. That is, although you may work for different employers throughout your career, your brand is yours and yours alone.

How to Build Your Personal Brand

Identify what is unique about you and what you do. My client David is a great IT leader. People on the non technical side of the business love working with him because he can translate highly complex technical information into easy to grasp concepts. He is also adept at explaining the business impact of technology. When David speaks with his colleagues, he speaks their language and does not use technical jargon. David built his brand around being the IT Leader for the People.

Promote yourself. Blog, write articles, speak at conferences, volunteer. All of these efforts position you as a thought leader in your particular niche and help to promote your personal brand.

Network. While networking is a form of self-promotion, it has other applications as well. Network effectively, and with the right people. Get to know people in your industry or your functional area. Offer to help them with their problems. You will be able to brand yourself as the person who lends his or her expertise to others without expecting anything tangible in return.

Embrace the 80/20 rule. Realize that your brand is 80% about the image you create, and only 20% about the actual content. You can have the best blog content in the world, but if your blog itself looks like it is straight out of 1995, no one will take you seriously. Take an inventory of your digital footprint and your online presence. Do they both serve to promote your brand? Or do they detract from it? When you meet people in person, be engaging and approachable.

Personal branding is ongoing. It’s not “one and done.” You must nurture your brand, and tend to it in order to get the results you seek. Branding takes time and dedication, but it is truly the difference between being one among many and being The One among many.

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