The word “brand” initially meant an identifying mark burned onto livestock. Over the past few centuries, the term has evolved and broadened:
“Brand is the image people have of your company or product. It’s who people think you are.” Ann Handley, Chief Content Officer for MarketingProfs
“A brand is the set of expectations, memories, stories and relationships that, taken together, account for a consumer’s decision to choose one product or service over another.” Seth Godin, Author of Purple Cow
The concept of a brand can include many things – emotions, images, stories – but its essence hasn’t changed. A company’s brand – and a person’s brand – is an identifying mark. And it can make all the difference.
Developing a compelling personal brand matters for everyone, no matter what your personal or professional goals are. Knowing your strengths and how to effectively communicate them can separate you from the rest.
Here are 7 tricks for building a compelling personal brand:
1. Know yourself
Identify your strengths, weaknesses, successes, and failures. Think about what you love to do, whether it’s writing, collaborating, creating, etc. Know what you want to share… and what you don’t.
Many people struggle to recognize their own skills… If that’s the case, reach out to coworkers and managers. Asking friends can also be helpful, but remember that personal and professional characteristics are different.
Finally, think about the values that will define your personal brand: what values do you want to be associated with? Many people associate perfectionism and ambition with both Steve Jobs and Taylor Swift, yet their brands are different because they project different values.
2. Identify your "sizzle"
Figure out what makes you different from other people who do the same job or are in the same industry. This difference could be anything, from a special skill to an interesting background. Think about what only you can offer, and how it makes the end product better. This is the sizzle.
Nobody has to choose just one defining trait; the most famous personal brands are rarely one-dimensional. But finding your sizzle will help focus personal branding efforts.
3. …but be real
A great car salesman can find any car’s merits and highlight them to make the sale; a bad salesman will exaggerate these merits or simply make facts up to make the same sale. Finding a way to stand out is not the same thing as embellishing reality.
When building a personal brand, don’t ever lie about education, professional history, skills, or accomplishments. Everyone can perform a Google search…the truth will come out. A personal brand doesn’t have to be fancy or complicated. It has to be authentic.
4. Perfect your pitch
If you meet someone in an elevator, could you sell your personal brand before their floor arrives? Everyone should have a well-practiced elevator pitch. This short, persuasive pitch should include who you are, what you do, and why you’re different. The pitch can include current your company, job responsibilities, anything exciting about the role, and any particular skills you offer.
Hi, I’m John Doe, and I’m the Sales Manager at Chicago Electronics, the largest family-owned electronics store in the Chicagoland area. I manage the relationships with clients and customers throughout the Midwest to supply them with top-shelf audiovisual equipment.
Write out a first draft of an elevator pitch, and then practice it as much as possible. It’s important to become comfortable speaking succinctly about yourself and what you have to offer.
5. Google yourself
56% of hiring managers search Google for candidates they’re considering, so it’s important to know what they will find. For most people the top results may be about someone else, particularly if you have a common name. Try adding quotes around your name or adding a location to the search term to make the results more specific.
If the results are positive, consider sharing it with others and on social media to boost its traffic. When a search shows results you don’t want to highlight, more creativity is needed: if possible, reach out to the hosting website and ask them to remove the content.
6. Control your story online
The secret to building a strong, positive personal brand online is activity. Join community events people may write about; start a blog; write an op-ed for the paper; volunteer; or start discussions online. If writing and producing content sounds daunting, start small by creating and updating Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter profiles. Share work that others create, and comment on it. Building a compelling personal brand online doesn’t require creative genius… just effort and interest!
7. Rise to the challenge
The hardest part of developing a personal brand is living up to the expectations that come along with it. Building a brand is only half the battle; the other half is living up to the hype. Pitching yourself as a subject matter expert on brewing coffee, for example, means people will ask you to brew coffee… and be great at it. Higher expectations often means more work, so it’s important to understand what you might have to give up in order to build a powerful brand.
To learn more about building your personal brand, watch our webinar, “Building Your Personal Brand.”