What’s your favorite car brand and why do you like it? Is it speed, luxury or comfort? All these questions lead us to discuss what a brand is and why it’s important for individuals to create their own brands for better business opportunities.
A brand is like a memory. It’s the promise that everything will be great. It’s the design, the name, the reputation, and the tone of voice to name a few. So, if you see the logo of your dream car, you will immediately move on to the driving experience. You will see yourself behind the wheel, taking turns and parking home safely. You choose a brand because you trust it. It’s loved by many because it answers their needs and makes their life better. So, how can we relate all this to personal and career branding?
Why Brand Yourself
In today’s highly competitive market, you need to show how unique and authentic you are in person, on paper and online. You need to build a strong brand: a memorable experience. To explain, social networks gave talents instant exposure to opportunities as they can demonstrate their niche and area of expertise. One example is of a game developer that built his CV creatively. He made it looks like a game, and each level explains education or experience and so on. He simply proved how good he is, and no company will hesitate to hire him. It’s a true ‘try before you buy’.
The decision process got improved with the social media boom. It made easy to verify if a candidate fits in the corporate culture. Recruiters can get a hint of your character when they google you and see your posts. After all, the straight A’s graduate is no more a favorite. This is not to undermine the importance of knowledge, but it’s the difference and influence you bring in plus the soft skills that make you stand out. So, how do you become a brand? Or how would you like people to remember you, so you get called when needed? Below are four easy and interesting steps that will help become a brand.
4 Steps to Develop Your Personal Brand
1. Think of yourself as a brand
Start with a mission in life and set your values. Then, share your views with the world. Of course the way you talk to a friend on facebook is different from your shares on LinkedIn. Dr. Mike is one successful example of personal branding on social media, where he sets himself apart from the crowds with a blend of professional and personal shares: all serve his career well. He posts medical tips, shared his shaved hear with followers to support kids with cancer, and tweets his pics in the gym and ones for his dog. Overall, you see the scrubs, healthy lifestyle, community support and little of personal touches to feature the heart and soul. Similarly, think of your career brand. Share professional insights and achievements, as well as some personal updates to lighten up. Present your 3D picture.
2. Showcase your expertise
Engage in meaningful conversations and participate in groups confidently even if people disagree, criticize or even don’t reply. Don’t get discouraged. Welcome feedback and be open to change your mind if the other person has a solid point. You can also broadcast ‘how to’ videos to explain techniques that made you smart in business, or write thought leadership articles. Most importantly, follow industry influencers and comment on their posts, so you get recognized for your valuable contributions. All this can help you network with similar mindsets and develop your communication skills. You might get invited for an interview or a conference to give a presentation. Who knows?
3. Build your online presence
Have authorship on your brand. Start with a website so you secure a rank for your name on search engines. WordPress is a great, user-friendly platform to build your blog. You can use your site for regular updates or it can be a three page, interactive portfolio with links to your social accounts. Add these links to your email signature, so potential recruiters and business partners can find the real ‘you’ easily. Use a professional email address that has your name or initials, so it reads like ‘email@example.com’. I recommend Gmail because it is widely accepted as a professional account alongside the corporate emails for Google’s free business products. Finally, keep refining your image. Google yourself regularly and see how your name appears in results and what people say about you. Check how to improve your results if any negative comments appear and see how to respond.
4. Update your professional skills regularly
What has been working six months ago may not be valid anymore this fall. Think of the smart phones market and how rapid companies keep boasting their products with new features or when they replace one old technique with courage. Similarly, update your skills. Get training, accreditation, certifications or your next degree to excel in your career. If it’s difficult for time or financial factors, some websites (such as futurelearn.com) offer free classes but you have to pay for the certificate. Also, some seasoned colleagues or managers might be willing to give you advice for free if you have coffee with them, or get yourself a mentor and set a deal with her. Offer to help in projects and in return she can review your work and give advice. Finally, stay modest and be willing to learn from everyone. Your kids can teach you facebook hacks, and millennials are smart and willing to wrap a job quickly as true advocates of the work-fun balance.
So, what’s so special about you? Are you smart and prompt to action? Do you always report accurate results? Are you a team player or an altruistic thought leader? Ask these questions about yourself and you will be able to refine and develop your brand.