Building And Managing A Personal Brand To Advance Your Career
Welcome to The Brand of You: Building and Managing a Personal Brand to Advance Your Career. Today, we’re going to talk about what a personal brand is, where you should have one, how to build one and how to manage it to advance your goals.
For some, this may seem like an insane idea, a personal brand. What is it? Why do we need one? The truth is you already have one, so let’s start using it, and let’s dive right in.
The found of Amazon, Jeff Bezos, believes that personal brands are what people say about you when you leave the room. I happen to agree with Jeff. I think he’s spot on. I always do prefer a good Venn diagram.
For me, a personal brand is the complete intersection of what you aspire to be professionally, who you personally are with unique attributes that you bring to the table and what you are known for. When those three things intersect, you really hit the personal brand sweet spot. It’s not about marketing yourself. It’s about being yourself because a personal brand isn’t fluff. You’re not fluff. Chances are you’re a really incredible professional and person of substance. If you’re all about the fluff, then it will be discovered. That won’t go well for your career.
“So what?” The personal brand is the sweet spot of aspiration, perception and reality. Why does this matter? Well, I believe the key to finding what you want is knowing what you want. A transparent personal brand has clearly defined goals. The defined personal brand belongs to someone who knows exactly what they hope to achieve and aspire to. They’re also very clear about their skills and experience that they possess. They’re so clear that they have exa4mples to support those accomplishments.
The transparent personal brand embraces their strengths and weaknesses. They work to build on their strength and diminish the weaknesses. The personal brand that is transparent is completely unapologetic about their accomplishments. They’re proud of what they’ve done and can back it up. It’s not full of buzz words.
You have to be real about your goals. When you’re transparent with a defined personal brand, you know what your goals are and how a specific role, job or project can help you achieve them. You aren’t applying to every job in the world or looking at every contract because you know what it is that you want. When you know what you want, you’ll find what you want.
When you’re focused on your goals and your best skills and accomplishments, then you’re not looking at every single opportunity but listening to different opportunities. You’re not putting yourself in the running for all of them, so you’re more likely to hit the job bull’s eye. It takes focus and preparation. It means you are managing your personal brand and your goals.
When we’re clear and transparent about our brand, we’re focused and we get results. The act of defining a personal brand makes you more efficient. When we’re more efficient and transparent with our goals, skills, accomplishments, strengths and weaknesses, we are more likely to secure our dream jobs. The angels sing when we work at our dream job because we advance our goals and the goals of the company or organization.
Contributing your skills and strengths to grow personally and professionally is when it all comes together. Transparency for a seasoned professional can put us closer and closer to career nirvana. Let’s talk about building or documenting your personal brand. You already have one. Now, it’s about cementing it to advance those goals and aspirations.
Your personal brand is that intersection of who you aspire to be, who you really are and what you’re professionally known for. It’s where those three things align in the sweet spot. To build a personal brand that is transparent is solidified. Let’s break it down a little bit.
Let’s first talk about who you aspire to be. When you think about your aspirations, think about them in terms of accomplishments. What do you hope to accomplish professionally this year or in the next five years? How can you deliver more value to achieve those goals? Where do your passions lie? You can likely find this by looking at the work, projects and deliverables that you have done that you are most proud of. Those things that you finish made you feel like you had more energy than you had when you started them.
When you’re looking at your work to see where your passions and aspirations lie, you get a better sense of what you hope to accomplish. When you know what or who you aspire to be, write that down. Keep it somewhere safe and revisit it often. Mine sits in my desk in the right hand corner. I’m always accomplishing new things that feed me energy. What I do is I go and revisit that goal or aspiration in my desk to make sure that I’m aligned.
We are human. We change frequently. It’s okay to change your goals and adapt your aspirations as new things capture your imagination or fascinate you. We change frequently. Make sure you document those goals and aspirations.
Now let’s talk a little bit about who you really are. Each one of these elements of the diagram is important, but being who you really are is the easiest to lose a level of transparency at work. I like to call it ‘the Facebook Effect’ because we’re only putting up our best moments, our best exciting times and our vacation pictures. Then, we don’t look at some of the things that keep us awake at night or some things that worry us.
When we’re really who we are, we embrace all the things that make us a unique person. We are all a little strange. Me, for example, I talk too much. I have a lot of opinions. When I’m talking to my clients and my employer, they’re very clear about who I am because when I come to work every day, that’s what you get. You get somebody who has a lot of opinions. Frankly, it’s too costly to be one person at home and one person at work. It’s too taxing.
It’s really important to be yourself “unless you can be Batman, then always be Batman.” Be him. Be true to yourself at work. Don’t try to be somebody that you’re not. Even if you’re an introvert, it can be hard for introverts to be extroverted at work when nobody is asking you to be. Just be yourself. Focus on those unique attributes that make you an interesting person. Be yourself. It will pay dividends when you find the right culture fit for your unique personality, like I did with SME Digital.
The last piece of the puzzle is “What are you known professionally for?” For example, when somebody you know asks somebody who doesn’t know you about you, they may say that you’re a project manager, digital strategist, content marketer, writer, designer or developer. It’s what you are known for. The key to this element in transparency is to focus on accomplishments and things you can show people to back up your accomplishments. It isn’t only being what known for but being able to show people what it is that you’re known for.
When you’re thinking about what you’re the best in the world at or what you’re professionally known for, be very specific. You’re going to hear me say this a lot. Make sure you have examples of your work product at the ready. Be sure that you can back it up if needed. For example, I write a lot about personal branding. I can send people links to articles that I’ve constructed to help people build and maintain a personal brand. I have the capacity to back it up.
Be sure that you can point to those specific examples and stories to support what you’re the best in the world at or professionally known for. Don’t be ambiguous or vague because remember what happens in vagueness stays in vagueness. Be specific and be sure that you can back it up.
Hopefully, you can define your sweet spot. For me, mine is all about connecting people with brands to achieve their goals. That’s my personal brand. It could be connecting people with careers or an employer brand. It could be connecting a customer with a consumer brand. That’s what I’m all about. What’s yours?
If you know what yours is and what your sweet spot it, be sure to tweet me at TParsons with the hashtag #OutreachMarketing. I’d love to know what your sweet spot is, your personal brand sweet spot.
Now, we know what our personal brand is, but how can we make it sing? I’ve got some tips and tricks. You have a brand. All your social profiles should be beautifully aligned. That’s the first step. Get all those profiles that are out there, searchable by anyone on the internet. Make sure that they’re consistent.
You contribute to the conversation in these areas of expertise. Above all, make sure that you can back it up. Make sure that if someone comes across your work, it validates your position. It’s kind of like that last time Vegas said that it was for families. It didn’t work out. They couldn’t back it up. It was never about families.
Be sure that you have the experience to back your brand up. Be sure your brand is tidy. Chances are you’re very active and social. Now, you have a defined personal brand, so you need to go into all of your profiles to update your information to reflect your newly defined brand. Your profile text should be very relevant to who you are. Your pictures and network connections should also be on brand.
You should use LinkedIn groups and Twitter chats to create new connections. Join groups on LinkedIn that are aligned with your brand and start posting some great content there. Be sure that you respond to comments that your articles may generate. The ability to have dialogue adds value.
In addition, join weekly Twitter chats. I’ve had some great success with Twitter chats to network with new people. You can find weekly Twitter chats by Googling ‘Twitter chats’ to find them. See what might align with your passions. If you choose to get involved with a Twitter chat, be sure to participate. Use the hashtag in the chat and follow people who are interesting. This is a great way of growing followers and establishing your personal brand. Plus, a company or two has been known to use Twitter chats to identify talent to connect with, so it may also lead to opportunities.
Let’s go back to using real world examples. You’ve got to have that backup. Some of the tools I recommend are having a great LinkedIn profile, using YouTube, blogging and having a Word Cloud with all of your qualifications. Use Slideshare. Create an Adobe Voice video. Create a Credhive account. Use Haiku Deck or Prezi to present your qualifications that you see and have backed up.
You’ve reached a point in your career where you have a defined consistent brand. That’s awesome. Any brand marketer will tell you that it isn’t enough to build it. You have to manage it. You need to be the steward of your brand. A brand manager works consistently to generate awareness, influence and affinity. All of this is an effort to continually build brand equity. It’s what a brand manager does.
How do we start applying some of these principles to our personal brand? How do we become our own personal brand manager? This sounds like a full time endeavor. It isn’t. It simply takes thought and planning. Before you know it, it’s second nature.
Here’s a few ways to maintain your personal brand. Creating awareness means putting your personal brand out there by publishing your information for people to see and experience you and your expertise. Of course, your LinkedIn profile is dialed and detailed. Be sure to look at other tools that you can use to build your personal brand.
You should be actively participating in LinkedIn groups, Twitter chats and reaching out to influencers in your industry. This outreach should be personal and on brands. Your interactions with groups and chats should add value to the conversations and be uniquely you. When you focus to adding value to the conversation you’ll see that there’s an increase of awareness of your personal brand. You’ll begin to build your own influence. It feeds itself.
You should try to spend some time doing this every week. I probably spend about an hour each week on these activities.
“The key to successful leadership is influences, not authority.” As your influence builds, look for opportunities to partner to create content for people you admire. You might be able to blog for somebody else or create your own blog. Definitely promote those through your social channels. Having a voice in your industry conversations is an important component of building influence and managing your brand.
If you don’t enjoy writing, network. Maybe you are more visual. Use Tumbler. The point here is to create content that is uniquely you and relevant to your industry. It can really show your stuff. Be sure that you review whatever you created. Answer comments and answer questions. I spend about an hour each week on this activity.
Building affinity means that you’re creating a personal brand that people experience as a natural and spontaneous liking to you. This might be the easiest to do, but it can take the most time. It’s really quite simple. Building affinity means to help people by adding value to their day.
When someone needs a favor from you, you do it. Ask nothing in return. Mentor people. Share you experience and knowledge. Do this by sharing really interesting content with people or connecting two people with one another who might have mutual interest. You want people to like you in your brand. You do that by adding value to other people’s days.
You earn equity in your brand by investing and maintaining that personal brand. You are the creator of your own destiny. Brand equity can be something you can build. The best brand equity is earned. To be sure you’re maintaining and earning your brand equity, spend time each quarter adding to your profiles. You should add new information to your LinkedIn profile or your Credhive profile. You should be storing this work in a cloud if you wish. It could be in Box or Dropbox.
You should be curating your best work and best thought leadership pieces somewhere. You can continue to not only hone in on your brand, but you can also provide value. When you’re curating your best work, you’re maintaining your brand so that it isn’t stale. It takes me about an hour each quarter to do this.
Spend time on your personal brand and contribute to your industry. It will pay diffident. I welcome connecting with you and adding value to you in any way I can. I really appreciate your time. Feel free to hit me up on Twitter @TParsons with the hashtag #OutreachMarketing. You can find me on LinkedIn. Have a great day.