A brand is what distinguishes something from its rivals. Typically, when we think about it, a company or product pops into our head. Amazon has a brand. Starbucks pumpkin spice lattes have a brand. Turns out, you do too.
You possess life experiences, natural abilities and learned skill sets that make you who you are. Your personal brand brings these together in a unique way to differentiate you from everybody else. Building a strong personal brand opens doors to new business and personal opportunities. Think about Apple. Steve Jobs had a personal brand that extended far beyond tech expert – he was diverse, creative and innovative. Quite literally, Steve encouraged others to “think differently.” As a direct result of this powerful personal brand, he was able to take a failing computer company and transform it into the technology powerhouse we know today.
To start building your own personal brand, you first need to understand your value. Here’s a hint – it’s more robust than your LinkedIn headline. What do you excel at in your profession? What do you like to do outside of the office? What unique events have you experienced and how did they shape you? Who are your role models? Pinpoint what you bring to the table and what motivates you to excel.
Once you understand your value, articulate it. You know why you’re special. It’s time for you to communicate that in a way that’s easy for other people to understand. Identify your accomplishments. Why were these endeavors successful? Were you recognized for any of them? Answering these questions can help you draft a succinct value proposition.
Your value proposition only works if people see it. Think about how you can expand it to fit different media and audiences. This can take the form of a LinkedIn profile, bio on a website or an elevator pitch at a networking event. Successful personal branding happens when people know who you are, what you do and why you do it.
Once you’re confident in your brand, establish credibility in your areas of expertise. Create strategic content like blog posts, podcasts or status updates and share them in places your target audience will see it. Of course you should share these on your company and personal websites and social media, but you should also reach out to fellow thought leaders to share the content with them directly. Third-party placement accelerates brand recognition and helps build trust in your brand.
Leading by example, encourage employees at all levels of your organization to develop personal brands. There are several benefits:
- Employees with well-established personal brands have credibility. They tend to be well respected in their industries and communities, and this perception will extend back to the organization they work for. People buy from those they trust.
- People want to work for organizations that support their development. Employers that provide resources to help their employees grow professionally tend to experience happier, more productive workforces.
- When your employees understand their personal brand, unique skill sets are brought to the surface. These characteristics can expand the capabilities of their existing teams or encourage collaboration among multiple departments working toward common goals.
Incentivizing employees to develop personal brands doesn’t require a lot of time or expense. Training on social media best practices, defining annual goal-setting policies or incorporating an employee recognition program are all great places to start.
A personal brand is so much more than posting a couple of tweets and signing up for a networking event. When the posts are archived and the events are over, what will people remember about you?