Reinventing Your Personal Brand
Do you know where the nearest Starbucks is in every city or neighborhood you visit? Are you a loyal Apple product customer? If so, there’s a reason for that. Local and national companies garner loyalty for their products or services because of the brand recognition they have created and the track record they have for delivering on their promises.
How about you? Do prospective employers or clients know what you stand for? What you have to offer? What sets you apart from your competitors? If not, it’s time for you to create a strong personal brand of your own. If that sounds like a daunting task, not to worry. We’ll break down eight tips for building a personal brand that will have you standing out in no time.
Tip #1: Know Thyself to Sell Thyself
The most successful salesperson is the one who has personally used a product or service and can sing its praises from firsthand knowledge. In the same way, you won’t truly be able to “sell” yourself until you know what you stand for and what makes you unique. To create a strong personal brand, you’ll need to identify your current selling points, as well as areas for needed growth.
- Assess your current skills, talents, knowledge base, and passions. What makes you tick? What can you spend hours doing without it feeling like work? What have people said you are really good at or that they appreciate about you?
- What are your values? Answering this question will require some honest introspection because others will see right through you if you say one thing and live another. Is your faith what drives you? Are you committed to doing the job right the first time, even if it takes a little longer? Do you pride yourself on service, or quality over cost? Is justice for the underdog your thing? In short, identify your core values that are non-negotiable and that you want to be known for.
- Where do you need to improve? If your assessment exposes areas of weakness, you’ll need to determine how to address those. Maybe you need more experience to give you credibility. Or maybe you need specialized training or an accelerated, online degree to acquire the knowledge and expertise you’re lacking. If so, Ottawa University is here to help you get started.
Tip #2: Narrow It Down
The market if full of competitors that have the same or similar skills as you. That’s why any personal branding strategy must answer the question, “What is going to set me apart?” While you may be worried that you’re going to limit yourself by identifying a niche, your specific expertise will attract the type of client, customer or employer that you are seeking. For example, if you’re in construction, do you specialize in new builds, remodels, framing in, or restorations? If you’re in marketing, is your specialty social media, research, content, search engine, video, guerilla, or event marketing? A designer? Nearly everyone knows that Joanna Gaines is synonymous with her farmhouse chic design style. So what do you want to be known for? It may take some time, and it may evolve over time, but pick one and determine to become the best and/or most unique.
Tip #3: Identify Who’s Buying What You’re Selling
This personal branding strategy tip may directly influence the industry niche you decide to focus on. Who needs the skill or service you provide? What’s the demand? Once you identify the audience or clientele you’re pursuing, you can begin to figure out how to market your brand to them. For example, are your services or skills more relevant to seniors or millennials? Are you trying to appeal to a prospective employer? What (authentic) story do you need to tell to resonate with them? Maybe you want to explore your client’s dreams so you can build them a home – not just a house. Or maybe you want to attract clients who desire to use their money for good – and you can tell them how best to do that. Once you figure out the WHO, you’ll be able to outline the what and the how.
Tip #4: Show Your Work - Get Others to Tell
How do you build a strong personal brand? Well, two old adages remain true: “Actions speak louder than words,” and “A picture is worth a thousand words.” You can SAY you’re an expert in an area, but unless you can prove you are, no one will be buying what you’re selling, at least not for long. Two ways you can gain credibility and recognition for your brand is through showing your work and getting others to say how good you are. Build a portfolio that tells the story of your brand through your best projects, highest profile clients, creative work, and accomplishments, along with details of what you contributed or what the outcome was.
You also don’t want to be the only one tooting your horn. Whether solicited or unsolicited, compile testimonials from peers, clients, customers, and managers who can tell others about your expertise and their level of satisfaction with your work. Utilize and grow your network to broaden your exposure; then find those who fit your niche market and work to earn their honest accolade.
Tip #5: Identify Your Communication Tone and Style
You should be intentional about how you engage with your market depending on the type of individual you’re trying to reach. The style and tone you use to communicate with GenXers will be very different than the one used to appeal to a stay-at-home mom or corporate executive. Whether casual, professional, clinical, or snarky, identify you voice and keep it consistent, because it becomes part of your brand. Sometimes even coming up with a catch phrase or tagline that you’re known for will make you more recognizable in the marketplace.
Tip #6: Communicate Your Brand Widely
Our digital world provides unparalleled opportunities for getting your personal brand noticed, so invest the time to create a robust presence online. Some good options include:
- Personal Website – Building your own website will display initiative and creativity. It provides your own personal link to showcasing who you are and what you have to offer.
- LinkedIn – Fully building out your LinkedIn profile to highlight your personal brand will set it apart from your competition. Be sure to include samples of your work, links to any other online presence, and endorsements. By regularly engaging your colleagues through posts and comments, you will also have opportunity to assert your brand voice.
- Online Portfolio – There are many hosting platforms for online portfolios. If you are a writer, artist, graphic designer, or other content creator, you can easily show your work with diverse samples, descriptions and testimonials that put your brand on display.
- Blog – This may sound like an intimidating option, especially for those who don’t consider themselves to be artistic or articulate. However, blogs can be an excellent way to establish yourself as an expert and insert your unique brand and viewpoint into the industry. You can always have someone review and polish your writing to make it reader worthy before you post.
- Social Media – The big FIT- Facebook, Instagram, Twitter – are other major players in getting some traction for your personal brand. There are newcomers to the social media space, as well, so be sure to check all your options. Use them often and use them wisely. Networking is key here, as you know.
- Cold Calling, Events, and Snail Mail – You might be surprised at how effective old-fashioned cold calling and handshaking can be. Drop in or schedule an appointment with those you want to influence. Be genuine. Attend events where you can display your work or simply network. And a hand-written note will get you noticed in this age of email and texting.
Tip#7: Live Your Brand
Remember – you ARE your brand. Not just online or when speaking directly with a prospective client, but all the time. If you have authentically created your brand and remained true to your values and character, then walking in that lane should come naturally. If your audience consistently sees that this really is who you are, it will build your brand’s greatest assets: credibility, loyalty and trust.
Tip #8: Keep Learning
This tip can have multiple manifestations. First, once you’ve identified your values, niche, audience and voice, you’ll want to spend plenty of time finding others in your industry who have been successful. Research how these thought leaders started out, built their brand, and marketed themselves, including any mistakes they made along the way. Learn from the best. And remember, mistakes are inevitable, so don’t be discouraged when you make them. They’re just another opportunity to learn!
You may also realize that you need additional education to give you the skills and knowledge you need to create a niched brand. One benefit of earning a degree is that you can continue to gain experience and build your brand while you’re going to school. Ottawa University has a wide variety of accelerated, online degree programs designed to prepare you for career advancement and becoming an expert in your field.
Following these personal branding tips will jumpstart your rise to the top of your industry – and beyond! If you are considering furthering your education and would like to more about how Ottawa University can help advance your career, Contact OU today!