When I was a kid, and I wanted something, I had several people I could ask – my mom, dad, grandfather, or my favorite uncle. Depending on what I wanted, I figured out who to ask to get a “yes.” Without knowing it, I was engaging in one of the steps of personal “branding” – identifying my target market, that is, the person who would say “yes.”
Business branding has always been common – we all recognize the red and white bucket of chicken and the Nike swish. These are symbols that identify a company and set it apart from all other companies of the same type. Personal branding has been just as common – we have just never labeled it as such. It is the concept that you have to “package” yourself for sale, and if you do a good job, you will get what you want – people who will pay you, people who will recommend that others pay you, and a group of supporters who believe your “brand” is worthy. And in this digital age, personal branding is more important than ever, as you shall see, as you read through these step-by-step procedures for developing you brand.
Step 1 – Get a Vision
You cannot develop a brand until you know where you are going. Where do you want to be in 10 or 20 years from now? What do you want to have? A family? A great executive position with a great company? Your own business? And what qualities and/or traits will be most important to who you will become (integrity, a specific skill set, a reputation for getting results, etc.)? Take a look at Smart Pill Wiki, is this project close to you? Is this the niche you would like to cover? Determine the most interesting field for you.
Step 2 – Identify Your Target Audience
Your audience depends upon what your immediate goal is. Are you looking for a job? Your audience is obviously made up of potential employers. Are you starting a business? You audience is made of potential customers. Are you employed and looking for promotions within that organization? Then you target audience is your superiors.
Another important consideration is defining your target audience will be those people who are colleagues, business associates, respected individuals whom you know – all of these people can help you promote your brand. Once you have identified your target audience, you must begin to build relationships with those in that audience. What are their motivations and their needs? How can you help? A potential employer has advertised a position opening and needs someone to fill it; a customer base has a need for the product or service you provide, and you will take the steps to build relationships so that they will purchase from you.
Step 3 – Identify Your Assets and Build Them
If you are looking for a job, what can you use as assets? Obviously, you will need to develop a resume and craft a stellar cover letter. But in this age of technology, a potential employer will look to “find” you in other places. Do you have a LinkedIn profile that is up to date and really engaging? What does your Facebook page look like? You may need to clean it up and set up some privacy settings, so that the old high school buddy who posts that really raunchy stuff won’t pop up! Are you launching a business startup? You need a website, a business blog, and social media accounts. Are you looking for a promotion? Your biggest asset is your current job performance, so be certain that it is stunning and that you have ingratiated yourself to the company in meaningful ways.
Step 4 – Exposure
You must have it! Again, you must use social media, of course. But there are other things you can do as well. Start blog posts, articles and participating in forum discussions related to your professional or business niche. Make sure you join groups and participate in discussions on LinkedIn. Join online networking groups that are specific to your niche or profession. All of these things will give you exposure on the web, so that when people look for you, you are there in good ways. Beyond this, start your own blog, post to it regularly, and invite other experts to post as well. Even if you are not an entrepreneur, design a website that perhaps focuses on a really cool hobby or activity that makes you unique. You can then mention your blog or you site on a resume!
Step 5 – Find Mentors
You need people who are “seasoned” in your field who are willing to act as coaches and as references. Establish relationships with respected professionals through networking groups both on and offline. If, for example, you have begun a consulting business, any well-respected, smart professional who is willing to recommend you is a huge plus! If you are in an organization looking for promotion, find a mentor within that organization who is in a top position. If you are seeking employment, find individual who will provide absolutely stellar references.
Step 6 – Keep Track of Your Branding Progress
Your online reputation is really important, because this is something that everyone checks – potential employers, potential clients, and yes, even your bosses. Here are the basic things you must do:
Step 7 – Be Who You Are
A lot of people who are really concerned about personal branding go to an agency to accomplish this for them. Here is the problem with this: some stranger at an agency does not really know you and will never really know you. The profiles, the website and even the blog your consultant may develop is not the real you. We may be in a digital age, but we are also in an age of authenticity. Only you can really develop a self-portrait that is genuine and honest. Take the time, get the skills you need to complete these steps, and present yourself as the “genuine article” that you are!
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