How to Develop Your Personal Brand

How to Develop your Personal Brand
Gary Begin/Sound Advantage Media

Possessing a personal brand means showcasing your career accomplishments. If it helps, think of your career as one long brand campaign that will evolve over time but always has the goal of presenting you in the best possible light.

A brand is, in essence, a promise of a certain level of performance. Great brands have high expectations attached to them, and everything associated with a great brand reflects those expectations.

What do the things associated with you say about your personal brand? Seemingly small details add up to a big overall impression. Here are some ways to develop your personal brand.

1. Your written professional bio.
Less formal than a résumé, this document describes your professional value proposition (PVP). It tells readers what’s in it for them by letting them know how you benefit them. When they read the PVP, they’ll know why they should hire you because of your professional assets.

2. Your elevator speech.
This is the spoken version of your bio. Can you sum up and explain your PVP in 30 seconds or less? If not, practice, practice, and practice until you can. Give this real thought, because often it is the first impression you’ll make on potential employers.

3. Your self-description.
Can you sum up your PVP in just two to four words? Great brands can, and you should be able to do so, as well. Aim to intrigue listeners enough to want to know more about you. Saying “I’m a scientific accountant” is boring. Saying “I’m a numbers detective” is much better.

4. Your business card.
Even if you are not employed and are in the middle of a career change, you need a business card. You can get 500 cards online for little to no cost. Make sure your contact info is on the card and on the back, your brief self-description.

5. Your appearance.
Do you look professional during job interviews? Are you well groomed and dressed appropriately for the organization? It’s amazing how many job candidate sabotage themselves by ignoring these basics.

6. Your behavior.
Do you act professional during job interviews? Do you avoid chewing gum and interrupting the person speaking to you? Take a good look at how you behave. Your actions should always reinforce your PVP, not take away from it.

7. Your own domain name.
Find out whether your first name, middle initial, and last name can be strung together as the address for a website. Use a domain registrar like GoDaddy or Active-Domain to find out if it’s available. If yes, register it, or some variation of it. Free or low-cost services like Weebly and many others can aid you in building a professional looking website and host it. Make sure that website address is also on your business card.

8. Your social media profiles.
You want a business profile on LinkedIn. Then you want to assess your non-business-oriented profiles on other sites. If there is anything that might embarrass you if a current or potential employer finds it, do your best to clean it up. On Facebook, for example, you may want to unfriend connections that have posted dubious comments or other material. Whom are you following on Twitter? That says more about you than you may realize.

9. Your photo.
Make your headshot photo consistent across the Internet, including your personal website and your social media profiles. This photo is a professionally taken headshot of you alone, dressed in business attire and smiling.

10. Your voice.
Consider starting a blog. You can make it part of your personal website. Commit to posting at least once a week and choose intelligent observations or articles as the basis for your discussion. The point is to establish you as an expert on the Web that people in your industry or field find interesting enough to read regularly.

With regular attention and persistence, your personal brand will become known for quality and even innovation, making you a desirable job candidate or valued employee.

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