Branding You: How to Cultivate Your Professional Brand

Barbara Siegel

Friday, May 23, 2014

The concept of branding for a product or service is not a new one, but the idea that personal branding an individual is important to the success is a more recent concept, punctuated by the prevalence of social media and digital marketing.

Successful managers and corporate leaders make an investment in cultivating a unique and consistent image that establishes them as a thought leader in their business niche.  Your professional image is more complex than a list of your credentials, experience or tenure; it also reflects your value structure and integrity.  Creating a distinctive personal brand allows for recognition and a perpetuation of your expertise within the marketplace.

Recognize that managing your online reputation and building a brand is important, both for your own personal success and also that of your business organization.  It is also more complex than updating your curriculum vitae on LinkedIn.   We’ve provided a few tips to help you get started.

1.     Define Your Niche Expertise

What industry and function do you serve?  It may seem like an obvious question, but some Managers have multiple responsibilities and in some organizations, these responsibilities may overlap into different departments depending on the size of the business.   Define what your role and skillset is, and what industry you serve.  This relates to defining your target market; personal branding is the same as product branding.  It is important to define who you are, what your benefits are and who will benefit from having you around.

2.     Define Your Brand Goals

Are you attempting to segue into a new career and establish yourself in a new sector? Or are you looking to be the go-to person, or a leader in your existing field? What would you like your marketing efforts to accomplish for you and your career?  Define some measureable goals to work toward as you build your personal brand.

3.     Create a Skill Inventory

When was the last time you reviewed your curriculum vitae or updated it?  The most successful business professionals develop an action plan to pursue continuing education that hones existing skills, or acquires new ones necessary to stay competitive in their field.   Create a list of concrete skills and training or certifications and make a list of soft skills that you have mastered that differentiate you from others in your field.  What makes you a top performer?  Acknowledge your talent. What makes your stand out? Everyone has a story—how do you tell yours?  It’s about unique point of differences—why should someone want you? Others may have the same attributes but what do you offer that stands out from other professionals in your field?

4.     Update Your References

Whether you are looking for a new career opportunity or not, it is good practice to maintain a current list of references both for your LinkedIn (keep it updated) as well as for your CV.   Aim to have at least 3-5 recent (within two years) references available to be viewed online on LinkedIn.  Ask regularly for references from current and former colleagues, project managers and other personnel who have worked closely with or for you.  This is also a good opportunity to review feedback on your performance from colleagues.

5.     Get Ready to Get Social

The most pervasive form of communication on the planet right now is social media.  While you may not feel comfortable engaging on social media on a daily basis, it is a key aspect to building your online authority within your sector. Twitter is an excellent conversational social network and perfect for sharing links to articles you have authored etc. Google+ remains an emerging but growing social network which is valuable for developing Google Author Rank.

Find a network you enjoy using to share information with colleagues and your valuable insights.

6.     Write a Blog

Would you like to have your name come up in Google search every time someone mentions your industry?  Building online authority is easy when you contribute regularly to a blog.  Inquire on opportunities to guest blog for your organization or provide a guest post for another website or blog that provides author attribution.  Put your thoughts and innovative ideas in a forum where you will be read, shared and re-shared to build your authorship

Unless you are fortunate enough to have digital marketing supports, you are the best public relations representative you have.   Become an ‘influencer’ in your field by remaining active in news sharing, comments and discussions. Participating in a regular (daily) way is ideal if possible as the more active you are (in a meaningful and relevant way) the more ROI you can expect from your efforts.  Make time to add your insights to articles, blog posts or social media updates that demonstrate your expertise.  Engage is group discussions on LinkedIn and share ideas or collaborate with other thought leaders around the world to build your reputation and professional brand.

the-way-to-personal-branding

Infographic: The Way to Personal Branding 

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