March 18, 2011
Build your brand before launching your job-search campaign
One of the best ways to articulate your skills, experience, knowledge and overall worth in today’s competitive job market is to create a personal brand that helps you stand out from the crowd.
According to management expert and author Tom Peters, “We are CEOs of our own companies: Me, Inc. To be in business today, our most important job is to be head marketer of a brand called You.”
Steps to creating a successful personal brand:
Determine your unique value proposition. Spend some time thinking about what makes you different than your peers — your strengths, passions and goals. If you left your job today, what would your company and colleagues miss? Know who you are, as well as who you are not.
Find out how others see you. Ask trusted colleagues, co-workers and friends for four or five adjectives they would use to describe you. What are you good at? What are your strengths? In which areas do they view you as irreplaceable?
Identify your goals. Where would you like to be in six months? A year? Five years? Ten years? Defining your goals is necessary to crafting a message.
Identify your target audience. Just like Starbucks knows that its target audience is coffee drinkers, you need to define to whom you want to send your message. This will help you not only hone your message, but also deliver it to the right places.
Reorganize your priorities. You’re probably used to putting yourself behind your company, co-workers and clients. You still want to be loyal to these groups, but be loyal to yourself first.
Pay attention to the details. Everything you do ultimately contributes to your personal brand. Once your brand has been defined, make sure that the little things — the way you dress, your body language, your e-mails, how you behave with co-workers — are consistent with your brand message.
Update your résumé. Go through your résumé to determine how it jells with your brand. Ensure that your résumé accurately defines you and is in line with both your short-term and long-term goals.
Become a social networker. Set up accounts on social- and professional-networking sites such as Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn. Ask those in your target audience to subscribe to your pages, and update them daily. Make sure your updates are germane to your branding message.
Build your own website. Your website should highlight your professional accomplishments, your skills and knowledge, what you stand for and your overall value.
Blog. Platforms such as WordPress and Joomla make it easier than ever to promote yourself to your target audience. Commit to posting a couple of times a week on topics that your audience will find interesting and educational, but that also highlight your skills and experience.
Get published. Write a book, contribute to industry publications or simply update the content on your website. Being published is an ideal way to promote yourself as an expert.
Go offline. Be sure to promote your brand in person, too. Join and participate in industry groups, give talks at conferences or offer to spearhead a large project that highlights your talents.
Tend to your marketing network. Be sure to keep co-workers, clients and friends updated about what you are doing. Word of mouth is a powerful marketing tool, and what the people in your network say about you will ultimately have an effect on your brand.
Review your brand frequently. Are you portraying your brand in a way that’s concise and easily understood? Is your brand message consistent among all platforms? A regular review will ensure that your message remains clear.
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