You spend much of your professional life making sure your organization, its services and products are branded and differentiated. But how much effort and thought are you spending on branding and differentiating yourself?
Your personal brand is a description of yourself, your talents and what you offer -- the qualities that make you distinguishable. Your brand helps to define how you position yourself in the marketplace and how people will perceive you. It's important. It's your reputation, and it's worth your attention.
Here are some basic steps to consider when it comes to creating and promoting your personal brand.
1. Identify what you provide or offer professionally. Before people enter into a relationship, they ask, "What's in it for me?" If you can answer that question by explaining how you add value, you will greatly increase the chances of forming meaningful relationships and building your brand.
2. List the elements that differentiate you from others. It's all about niche and focus. Talk to your most trusted colleagues, friends and competitors and ask them to identify what makes you different and better.
3. Determine exactly what you want to convey about your personal brand and create a communication and marketing plan to promote it.
4. Be consistent and deliver on your brand promise every time.
You have defined "Me Inc." The next step entails spreading the word. There are three specific communication arenas to consider. Let's call them "old school," "online" and "in person."
People have been promoting themselves in the old-school manner for decades, and this approach is very much alive. Old school involves your resume, your references and a portfolio of your work. Make sure these tools are flawless and up to date.
Once you have your old-school tools, it's time to move online, which is the best and easiest place to build your personal brand. Here are some popular outlets. Choose the two or three that work best for you.
Create a profile on LinkedIn (www.linkedin.com). It's often the first place people go to learn about you. Don't forget that your connections may provide the first impressions for a new business acquaintance.
Put yourself out there and create a blog. It will require effort and time, but blogs are great brand builders and differentiators. A quick tip: Before you begin your blog, write down potential post ideas. If you can come up with 50, you are ready to go. …