In my last blog I discussed how to conduct a personal S.W.O.T. analysis, an exercise businesses use to assess themselves and competitors to formulate strategies. This week’s topic is about another process companies use that you can apply to yourself and your career…branding.
Developing a personal brand is similar to product branding. The overall goal with branding is to differentiate yourself (the product) in the market so you can attain your objectives, be those landing your dream job or becoming a famous singer. The process includes defining your brand and brand attributes, positioning your brand in a different way than your competitors and then managing all aspects of your personal brand.
The biggest issue I see when it comes to personal branding is a lack of adequate research and strategizing. There’s an old saying, “Ready, aim, fire,” but when it comes to personal branding, I see many working backwards with “Fire, ready, aim.”
People tend to get so excited that they forget to do their homework before taking action. To avoid mis-steps, take the time to work through these six steps first.
PERSONAL BRANDING 101
Step 1: Define your overall aspirations. Be specific and clearly define your goals and objectives. Is it to become known as the best project manager in a certain industry? Obtain the job of Creative Director at a large advertising agency? Become VP of Marketing?
Step 2: Conduct research. How are those who have made it to where you want to be conducting their personal branding efforts? What can you learn from what others are doing, be their efforts good or bad? Who are your biggest competitors and what are they doing to brand themselves?
Step 3: Determine your brand attributes. What do you want your personal brand to convey? What adjectives do you want people to associate with you (as the product) and why? In what niche of the market do you want to become known?
Step 4: Assess your current state. How do people currently perceive you? How large is the gap between the current you and the person you want others to perceive you to be? What needs to change and why?
Step 5: Create your game plan. Your game plan should include more than just branding yourself in social media – it needs to include all aspects of you, as a product. Defining your plan needs to include the tangible and intangible characteristics of personal branding including attire, hair, makeup, behavior, verbal and non-verbal communication.
Your game plan also needs to include the specific social media aspects you’ll use to convey your new personal brand (such as LinkedIn,
Step 6: Manage your brand. Proactively manage all aspects of your brand, ensuring these aspects are in sync and that they continue to reinforce your brand attributes and market niche.
For example, your LinkedIn picture should look similar to the in-person you, your Tweets and any social media posts should stay within your market niche and your in-person behavior should be representative of how you want others to perceive you. And if you’ve branded yourself in social media as a creative fashion diva, then make sure that extends to how you come across in person (attire, hair, makeup, etc.).
Don’t create a mismatched brand by conveying different or competing attributes in various social media outlets, such as tweeting negative opinions about gowns worn at the Oscars and posting comments on LinkedIn about your vacation when you’re trying to brand yourself as a savvy cross-functional project team leader. Doing so will create audience confusion about who you are and what you do.
~ Lisa Quast
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