Creating Your Personal Brand
What comes to mind when you hear the word brand? Perhaps you think of a consumer brand such as Apple or Tesla, or maybe you think of cattle. But a brand can also be used to describe your own personal brand. In other words, your brand is how you are known and identified. Whether you are a recent college graduate, starting your career, or an established professional, having a personal brand helps as you calibrate your choices. You can develop and maintain your own brand. After all, it is your reputation and the impression others have of you. Why not create it? Rather than leaving it to others to decide for you, this is your opportunity to define how you want to be known.
To establish your personal brand, consider these components:
- Set your Goal– Think about what you want to do and how you want to be known. What is it you ultimately want to achieve personally or professionally? Perhaps you want to open your own business or move to a new position within your current organization. Beginning with the end in mind puts the target that you will work toward in view.
- Define Your Core Values– Examine the beliefs and guiding principles that drive your day-to-day decisions. Values may include integrity or honesty, for example. Those values help you determine what is right and wrong. Clearly defining your values sets the parameters for opportunities that come your way. You can check each opportunity against your goals and your values and decide whether to pursue an opportunity and whether it suits the brand you are establishing for yourself.
- Identify Your Differentiator– Consider building on the strengths and qualities that set you apart from others to define your differentiator. Perhaps your friends compliment you most for being a great listener or a dynamic presenter. Build on those strengths that set you apart and use them when you present yourself to the world. Highlight your strengths in your work and image; seek opportunities to share it with others.
- Prepare Your Elevator Speech– An elevator speech should be a short and sweet description of who you are that can be shared in about the time it takes to ride an elevator. This is something you want to be comfortable with and ready to share on command. You never know who you might meet in the line for the restroom, on a plane, or when you will be asked to introduce yourself. Make your speech your own and try changing it up over time and with diverse audiences. It is helpful to make your speech easy to understand. Keep it high-level and interesting so your listener can ask follow-up questions if they are interested rather than sharing so much detail the listener has no opportunity to engage with you. Your elevator speech should include the following:
- Who you are: first and last name
- What you do: you may want to include job title and the company you work with if representing your company, or a brief mission statement if you are seeking employment opportunities.
- Include a hook: Share an interesting anecdote that brings the listener in and prompts them to ask a follow-up question. This could be something like, “I work with leaders and help them achieve their goals,” or “I use the science of human behavior to change lives.”
- Establish Your Presence– Decide how you will present yourself to your audience and consider the available forums to share your talents. This can include contributing through a social media presence such as Instagram, Facebook, or LinkedIn. These platforms provide opportunities to put yourself out there through writing, blog posts, providing opinions/thoughts, and/or sharing research—all of which can lead to opportunities. You can also get involved with local networking groups, take on leadership roles, and provide speeches at local events. The more you put yourself out there and present your talents, the greater reach you will have to contact people who may be able to help you reach or achieve a big step toward your goal. You will not achieve your goals by keeping your aspirations and talents all to yourself.
- Maintain Your Brand– Once you have put time and energy into crafting and refining your brand, the next step is to maintain that brand.
- First, remain focused and consistent with strengthening your brand. A lack of focus dilutes your brand and confuses the audience. This does not mean that your brand cannot change and evolve over time, but rather project the brand you have defined and update it as your goals develop. Brands typically grow and evolve over time to remain relevant, making it a point to revisit your goals periodically.
- Assess your choices and actions against the brand. If you find yourself in a conversation, participating in an event, or if you feel that you would be embarrassed if someone were to hear/see something you are saying or doing, that goes against your brand and how you want to be perceived. Change it! At the end of the day, it is imperative to be authentic. If you are really yourself and honest, it will not matter when or where you bump into someone; you won't have to remember which persona to channel. In the end, be you and strive to be the best version of you in all arenas.
Defining and planning your personal brand helps you set yourself apart from others, which can provide a competitive advantage for job opportunities, recognition, and demand for what you have to offer. Give yourself the best possible opportunity by defining your brand.
Need help defining your goals?
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