At one time, branding was viewed as a “fluffy” marketing concept—a nice to have. Now with the explosion of social media, it is essential, not only at the company level but also at the individual level. It’s called personal branding, and it’s all about telling a compelling story with you as the central character. Pia Silva, the author of Badass Your Brand, says, “With so much content and so many small businesses popping up online, a brand that connects to a person’s face is much easier to trust faster. It takes less time and effort to build a relationship with a personal brand as compared to a business brand.” Your personal brand is the unique combination of skills and experiences that make you who you are and allow you to stand out from the crowd. An effective personal brand can help you get a job, a promotion, investor funding or new clients. By taking your personal brand to the next level, you’ll be able to inspire confidence, increase your influence and generate new growth opportunities.
Ask yourself these five key questions and watch your personal brand become one of your greatest assets.
What is your goal?
The first step in taking charge of your personal brand is to identify your goal. Having a clear destination will help guide you in making choices about your brand. Some examples of goals could be to get a new job, transition to a new career or secure venture capital funding for your startup. Remember to be realistic and set goals that are challenging but also achievable.
Who is your target audience?
If your goal is to get promoted to a new role within your company, then your new potential boss or company executives are your target audience. If you just launched a startup and are seeking funding, then potential investors at venture capital firms might be your target audience. What if you are looking to make a job transition? In that case, your future manager and the HR team at the new firm are your target audiences. It is also possible to have multiple audiences but try to keep your personal branding strategy as simple as possible for maximum impact.
What problem do you solve?
When you ask yourself this question, think about the pain points that your target audience faces. What challenges do they have that you can address? If you aren’t sure, do your research. Use your network, talk to friends and family and investigate social media to gather information. If you don’t clearly understand what their problem is, you won’t be able to position yourself as part of the solution.
How do you differentiate yourself?
In this ultra-competitive world, it is critical to be able to differentiate yourself from the competition. One way to do this is to inject personality into your personal brand. What makes entrepreneurs like Richard Branson, Marie Forleo, Elon Musk, Tony Robbins and Gary Vaynerchuk stand out? It’s their compelling, authentic and unique personalities. Another element of differentiation is expertise. Think about why you are the best person to deliver results and then provide examples. What have you done in the past that shows you can do what you are promising? You may also need to look at your experience through a new lens because what you’ve done in one area could translate into evidence of what you can accomplish in another.
What do others say about you?
What do other people say about you when you’re not in the room? According to Gary Vaynerchuk, “Your personal brand is your reputation. And your reputation in perpetuity is the foundation of your career.” Start with whom you know and get creative when it comes to asking influencers in your field for help. Ideally, you would like influencers to become your advocates. Find inspirational mentors who believe in what you’re trying to accomplish. Whether you speak directly with these people or not, you can learn a lot by watching how they execute their own branding strategies. Identify potential partners who share your vision. Then develop win-win relationships and grow the alliance over time.
Ultimately, people don’t do business with companies; they do business with people. By taking your personal brand to the next level, you’ll be able to separate yourself from a crowded marketplace and reap rewards that you never thought possible.
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