We are all used to branding – its why we choose our favourite cereal every week rather than try something new.  We trust it, We believe in it’s quality and we have bought in to everything the cereal company is telling us about their product. Our beliefs in the product set it apart from all the others.  When it comes to personal branding the principles are the same.  You create a vision of yourself that you want others to see, one that what will encourage others to buy in to YOU.

Perfecting your personal brand is the key to getting a better job, better clients for your company, and industry recognition.

Being clear on your brand will improve your confidence, your job satisfaction, and help you to focus on your goals.  Now you are probably thinking.  “But I don’t have a personal brand, I don’t know where to start”.  Well I’ve some good and bad news for you.  You already do.  Google your name, see what is there.  It’s usually social media where our presence these days is felt and this can be good if it is in line with who you want the world to see.  Not so good if some of the content isn’t ‘safe for work’ and you have shared what could be viewed as ‘unpopular’ opinions.

Social Media

You manage your brand through social media to remove anything that is not in-keeping with how you want yourself to be viewed professionally.  My advice here would be to adopt a zero tolerance approach.  If in doubt, remove the content/photo/video/article.  Doing a full audit on your online presence is vital if your personal brand is going to work for you.

Personal branding was popularized by an article by Tom Peters first published in Fast Company Magazine (“A Brand Called You”) over a decade ago. He begins the article by writing, “Regardless of age, regardless of position, regardless of the business we happen to be in, all of us need to understand the importance of branding. We are CEOs of our own companies: Me Inc. To be in business today, our most important job is to be head marketer for the brand called You.”

With the proliferation of social media becoming a phenomenon, it is actually EASIER to cultivate your brand than when Tom Peters wrote his article.  You have a fantastic platform in LinkedIn which is set up specifically for you to market yourself professionally – use it.  In addition, using Facebook and Twitter to share content and comment articles in your niche can get your name out there.

Check out my blog on how to stand out on LinkedIn for some top tips.

Consistency is Key

Make certain your brand message is consistent across all platforms. For instance, your resume and LinkedIn profile must be in sync. And be professional.  You may have a perfect LinkedIn profile, but your foul mouthed twitter account can undo all your good work.  Be clear about the image you intend to project. Think about the ‘ideal you’ – who does that look like and what are they trying to convey?

Personal Branding starts with a Vision

You need to put the work in to formulate this.  There are some key building blocks; knowing your values, being aware of your beliefs, getting clear on your purpose and vision.  Considering where you see yourself in five or ten years time is a good place to start.  Being aware of your beliefs and values help you determine what path you take.  Stay true to your vision, beliefs and values and the clarity of your brand will become much more obvious.

Your personal brand in the digital world is easy to see and manage once you know what you want to convey.  But there is much more to personal branding than social media.  You need to step out of your comfort zone and take every opportunity to sell yourself in person, inside and outside your company (especially if you’re looking for another job!).  For instance, take the lead in meetings, volunteer for suitable projects, talk about what you enjoy and your strengths.  Outside your company it’s important to talk to your network about what you’re interested in doing, extend your network, and advertise your skills by asking to speak at events.  I also highly recommend getting yourself a mentor – we have peers and leaders around us who are willing to help, just ask.

Ultimately you want to market yourself with the goal of being your target markets’ ‘favourite cereal’.  You don’t have the million dollar marketing budget that they do, but you have many tools at your disposal.  Make use of professional photographers, make-over consultants, mentors and of course Career Coaches.  They can all help you define, create, and nurture your brand.