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This is a guest post from Kathi Miller-Miller, who was one of the winners of the Aha!NOW RaffleCopter guest post giveaway held in August. In this post, Kathi guides you how to develop your personal brand and achieve success.
I’m a fan of continual learning and self-improvement. In fact, one of my favorite quotes is “if you aren’t growing, you’re dying.”
Perhaps it’s the farmer in me, but I love the analogy of our personal and professional lives to that of nature.
Think of it like this: The minute you stop working to improve yourself, your success will start to fade.
And while you may be doing a lot of things right, my guess is that you haven’t paid close enough attention to your personal brand.
Admittedly, there are many different ingredients in the recipe to find success, but giving focus to your personal brand can take your career from “blue plate special” status to culinary masterpiece!
What is a Personal Brand
Much like national companies portray a brand and promise certain benefits, your personal brand carries the same attributes.
It summaries who you are, how you approach your work and the expertise you provide. In essence, it’s your reputation.
While the concept is presently experiencing resurgence in popularity, the term itself is not new.
In fact, it was first introduced almost 80 years ago by Napoleon Hill in his book, “Think and Grow Rich”
Why is it Important
If you aren’t familiar with the concept of personal branding, you may think it’s only important for business owners. But nothing could be farther from the truth.
Employees, students, bloggers, volunteers and entrepreneurs all benefit from managing their reputation.
In today’s competitive and global business environment, it’s no longer a question of “if” you have one…but rather if you actively create and execute your brand.
Like it or not, bosses, co-workers, instructors and fellow bloggers already have a perception of you.
And while it would be nice if everyone in your circle of influence was a raving fan of your abilities and shared them freely with others, unfortunately, that just simply isn’t reality.
So you have a choice. You can either control that perception by developing and executing a strong personal brand or leave others to their own devices.
I don’t know about you, but personally I feel my reputation is far too important to give up that control.
You see, by developing and delivering your brand image, you manage what others perceive as your strengths and abilities.
Regardless of your walk in life, creating and managing your personal brand will improve your success.
And while it can seem squishy and a bit overwhelming to get started, like many complicated recipes, it’s really as simple as following a few steps. You just need to get started.
Steps to Develop
1. Define your Appeal
The goal here is to define what people get from working with you instead of someone else. And arguably, in the early stages of your brand development, it can be a scary task.
But take a deep breath and stay with me on this. It’s really as simple as asking a few trusted colleagues, your boss or even clients to share what they value about you.
The examples below can help you develop a framework, but in order to make your appeal unique, it’s important that you craft statements that are appropriate to your efforts.
- The 3 adjectives that people use to describe me are:____________, _____________ and _________________.
- People count on me to be ________________ and _________________.
- I love it when I can__________________________________________.
- I am happiest when I can help others _______________________.
2. Name your Niche
While the thought of casting a wide net appears initially intriguing, it’s difficult to be a master to everyone.
Instead, your branding efforts will be more enthusiastically embraced by others if you can target an audience or niche where you provide something special…perhaps even unparalleled.
Complete the sentences below to help you with this step:
- My boss can always count on me to hit a home run when I work on _____________.
- Everyone comes to me when they look for information on _____________.
- I do _____________________ better than most people I know.
- I specialize by helping companies in the ________________ .
3. Create a Compelling Statement
Much like large corporate brands have just a few advertising seconds to “sell,” it’s important you create a concise statement telling people what they can expect when they work with you.
This statement is really a combination of the “Appeal” and “Niche” responses that you defined in the previous steps.
Your compelling statement should become an integral part of your introduction when you meet new folks. Consequently, this will be the most visible result of your brand.
Below are just a few ideas to help get your creative juices flowing:
- I combine ______________ and _________________to deliver ________________.
- I will help you to __________________________________.
- I have the unique ability to___________________________.
- I specialize in helping my company_______________________.
4. Develop a Strategy
Once you have crafted your message, it’s time to plan your approach. It’s important you make an intentional decision on how to spread the message of your brand.
Just a little over a decade ago, your options were likely limited to sharing your abilities with those in physical proximity to you.
However, with 19% of US employees now engaging in work remote activities and the ever increasing global e-commerce platform, there is simply much to consider.
- Include Social Media. Regardless of your focus or specialty, it’s likely that digital will be one of the foundational blocks of your brand strategy. And in fact, your question of social for your strategy isn’t really one of “if”….but rather one of “where.”
The channels are plentiful and each has unique appeal and following. As you work to develop a strategy, think about your brand and which channel best fits the persona for your unique abilities.
- Leverage influencers. Your ability to identify ambassadors for your brand is another critical component of your strategy. In case you aren’t familiar with the term, an influencer is someone who is respected and followed by others.
A good example of this might be Michael Jordan with the Nike brand. His image (and the respect he commands) has become almost one with the brand.
Now realistically, you may not be able to snag Michael Jordan as your influencer, but you can find those that command the respect and following of those in your industry.
Your strategy should include the names of these folks and specifically how you plan to make them brand ambassadors.
- Remember your niche. While your brand will undoubtedly grow and morph with time, it’s important that you remain true to the niche you create.
Realistically, you may be able to flex a bit within your target group, but it’s likely you will lose some momentum by trying to serve multiple masters.
So for example, if you specialize in helping small businesses improve their SEO ratings you may partner with everything from plumbers to hair stylists, but you wouldn’t market your brand to large corporations.
- Stay true to your brand. The opportunities for brand promotion are simply limitless. While you should aggressively promote your persona, it’s vitally important that you remain true to the brand you create.
For example, if your brand promotes “personal interaction,” then employing an email only strategy would be in conflict with your brand.
5. Execute, Execute, Execute!
Many would say the hardest part of your “brand journey” is over; however, I would disagree. According to Entrepreneur magazine, the average adult attention span is only 8 seconds.
You see, most fail at this step, not because of the difficulty but rather because of the determination required.
The execution step requires tenacity and the results (aka completion of a step) don’t carry the visibility and sense of accomplishment that creating your brand did.
However without putting your plan into action you stand little chance of experiencing success. So dig deep and make a commitment to actively implement the plan you create.
In order to increase your success with the execution step, you will find it helpful to set some short, mid-point and long-term goals in your strategy. And then measure your success at each point.
Nothing in your personal or professional life has a finite point and your Brand Persona is no different. This is simply not a “once and done” endeavor.
In order to achieve the greatest success, you must continually evaluate and adjust your branding efforts.
Perhaps your industry has changed and you have expertise in a completely new field. Or maybe you have a new boss at work that is pushing the team in new directions.
Regardless of the specifics, much like a coach may change some plays in the second half, you will likely need to adjust the approach you initially created for your personal brand.
With any recipe, following the steps is only part of creating a culinary masterpiece. It’s also critical that you have the proper ingredients. And there are a few key things that must be included to make your brand successful!
So be sure to watch for my post next week on my blog, where I’ll wrap up this topic by discussing the “8 Key Elements in Your Personal Brand.”
Share Your Thoughts:
Have you consciously worked towards creating a personal branding? What branding successes or struggles have you experienced?
Photo Credit: FreeDigitalPhotos