I had a striking and might I dare say, haunting thought that continues to stick with me. Several years ago, I met a girlfriend through a dating site. Yes, I know this is not unusual. However, she once remarked that I marketed myself online like I was a (human) “product.” Through that pleasant conversation, I wasn’t certain if this was to be construed as a compliment or a criticism. Although my intent was not deliberate, I now understood the power of personal branding.
Today, personal branding is ubiquitous and an essential part of professional and non-professional activism. It isn’t different from product branding and relies on the same critical and analytical eye and criteria to float the “product” in the market. The only difference is that the product in question is “you.”
For example, if you are in the job market, the commodity you are selling is “you”. This also applies if you are seeking a promotion within your organization or whether you’re selling/categorizing yourself as the ideal independent consultant or political candidate respectively. The motives can be one or several.
The Brand Called “(Place your full name here)”
No matter what your name is or who you are, you are engaged in selling an image you wish to portray to a targeted audience. Joe McGinnis in his cutting edge book “The Selling of the President” showed how this could be done effectively. The book focuses on how Richard Nixon was able to “sell” his profile to the American public in 1968.
As individuals, celebrities have pretty much mastered the art of turning themselves into powerful, eye-catching and memorable personal brands. Think Paris Hilton, Madonna, George Clooney, and Donald Trump. Even President Barack Obama, during his campaigns, demonstrated how to take an unknown quantity and build a persuasive persona.
What Can We Learn from Them?
To start with, it’s not a one-off event but rather an ongoing process. Companies constantly bombard us with messages and adverts for precisely this reason. To keep us reminded of their brand and thus reinforce their brand equity.
Keeping it genuine and delivering on promises is an equally important factor to consider. Your attitude and actions, from start to finish with any task you perform, set the tone for the type of individual you are and what others can expect from you.
Create a Brand Statement and a Value Proposition
Marketers, most notably, product brand managers, create messages about their products or services that encourage us to buy. Those messages tell us attributes about the product and the benefits to us as consumers if we purchase their products/services. Likewise, as a personal brand, you need to develop at least one message about yourself that tells your target market what you bring to the table, the benefits they receive from doing business with you, as well as what attracts them to you.
Your value proposition is all about your competitiveness and should spell out the strengths that surpass your competition. To put your brand to work for you in your job search, you’ll need to pull together all the pieces that make up your value proposition in the marketplace. A vibrant personal brand statement makes it that much easier for those assessing you to get an indication of what you bring to the organization.
Effective Communication Enhances your Brand
Whether you’re a CEO, manager, consultant, entrepreneur, business owner, professional, or even a job seeker, you should have the ability to persuade through your written and verbal messages. This includes giving effective interviews. Effective presentation skills will not only help you sell your ideas and products but will elevate your personal brand.
Management guru, Peter Drucker once stated, “As you move one step up from the bottom, your effectiveness depends on your ability to reach others through the spoken and written word.” This effective quotation not only tells it as it is, but it also tells us a lot about Peter Drucker as an effective management expert and communicator.
Character vs . Reputation
Reputation is what people say or think about you. That’s your personal brand and should be well-preserved. Character, on the other hand, is what you really are. It is crucial that you understand the distinction. It is said that character is like a tree and reputation like a shadow. The shadow is what we think of it; the tree is the real thing. Always deliver on what you promise and if you look after your character, your reputation will look after itself.
What does Personal Branding Entail?
For personal branding to be effective, it requires managing perceptions
effectively. This encompasses several characteristics including:
– Be Unique and Remarkable in what you do by differentiating yourself from the mainstream. In today’s crowded and competitive world, we need that extra something that sets-us apart. Be distinctive, daring and acquire a competitive edge. After all, it’s a “dog-eat-dog” environment and survival of the fittest. No
matter what you do, you don’t have to live your life the way other people expect you to.
– Grooming and Clothes: — They are the packaging of your total image. The way you dress and groom says a great deal about you — whether you’re doing so out of necessity or doing it with flair, one can usually distinguish the difference. Watching your appearance also makes you feel good about yourself.
– Etiquette: — It forms a part of human interaction skills, is a strong indication of a refined person and proper upbringing. It should be applied in everyday life in a civilized society. In addition, Respect is esteem of a person, a personal quality and ability to demonstrate it to others through deeds.
Social Networking: Is it going to be Facebook, LinkedIn or Both ?
LinkedIn is the number one professional network, whereas, Facebook is presently the largest personal network with over three billion active users worldwide. Each has its unique purpose. Whether you’re a job seeker, consultant, and entrepreneur or happily employed, LinkedIn can be an incredible asset for your career or business. You can connect to over 800 million professionals in over 200 countries around the world. This is a cyber venue where a polished profile with a professional-looking photo and error-free text should be the only acceptable standard. It’s a portrait of you and your brand. It’s also where you will be importing your contacts and growing your network through new connections. In contrast to LinkedIn, Facebook is geared more toward socializing purposes with friends, relatives and acquaintances.
Many companies are also taking serious notice whose idea is to engage with
present and prospective clients. It’s equally important that you are prudent and selective with the type of content and photos you place on your page as anyone can come upon it through searches. The message your page conveys will either be positive or unfavorable to your image. Frequent verification and updates on both social networks are recommended. Otherwise, your profiles become stale and unattractive.
Another powerful marketing tool to consider is a blog. Writing articles for your own blog and for others will earn you consideration as a respected expert in your industry and subject matter, which, taken together, will create more credibility for you and increase your presence on the Internet.
In the Final Analysis
Regardless of the business you’re in or message you’re trying to depict to your audience, if you’re going to successfully shape your brand, you need to start by knowing who you genuinely are, then form the image you want to present, and subsequently, behave the part consistently.
Everyone, it seems, has a personal brand, but most people are not aware of this and as a result do not manage it strategically, consistently, and effectively. As your own “brand,” you are the head of “Me Inc.”
How does it feel to be the CEO of your own brand and life?
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