Branding is More Than Just for Business

There’s a lot of talk today about how an employment brand impacts your business. And while it is key to attracting, connecting with and retaining top talent, have you ever taken time to understand how your own personal brand impacts the way a company sees you? Creating a personal brand, networking to promote yourself, taking up volunteer activities and virtually anything else you can do to favorably position yourself in the current marketplace is essential—and can put you at the forefront of talent when searching for a job.

Let’s start by considering what you know about branding. There are many definitions for the term, but one of the best ways to define it is a promise of value. Why should your product be valued above the competition? Is it price, quality, appearance or something else? Branding is developing an image of something or someone and being able to deliver on that image or brand promise.

Personal branding helps you define who you are, what makes you more qualified than other job candidates , employees or vendors and what values you offer an organization. So let’s take a look at four key areas that can help you brand yourself:

1. Identify the building blocks

Lay the foundation for your personal brand by listing your accomplishments and experiences. If you have weaker areas, do your best to seek out opportunities to gain the experience and improve those areas—try your hand at volunteering, ask to take on new functions in your current job or consult with experts who have the experience you desire. Your accomplishments will give you a clear view of the path where your career is heading.

Next, lay out your career goals and make sure your current accomplishments and experiences line up with those goals. The direction you want to take your career will dictate which accomplishments are most important and which experiences need to be highlighted when building your brand.

Look into gaining additional education, certifications, training or licenses around your desired career path. Completing additional education not only shows innovation and self-motivation, it can enhance your personal brand.

2. Become an expert

Explore ways to become an expert in your field. The more well known you become, the easier it is to create a stronger brand. Here are a few ways to accomplish this:

  • Write articles in your chosen field and get them published in various media outlets.
  • Offer to speak and provide presentations at conferences where you have a chance to showcase your knowledge.
  • Offer your thoughts and opinions to local newspapers, magazines and other media.
  • Build a website and maintain a consistent online presence.

One of the easiest ways to get your brand recognized is to promote your resume. Professional networking sites like LinkedIn can help. List your complete resume, key accomplishments, education and references. Then extend invitations to other professionals you have worked with to submit recommendations and referrals on your behalf.

Prepare two portfolios, one for print or in-person meetings, and one for online viewing that can be sent easily and opened by a potential employer or new professional contact. Your portfolio should include your complete resume, detailed accomplishments, education, samples of work, working papers, speech transcripts, awards, honors and referrals or recommendations from other professionals.

3. Move it online

An online presence is very important to building your personal brand. If you do not have a personal website, use this opportunity to set one up. It is important that your website reflect not only your work, but also who you are as a person. Employers and other professionals should be able to visit your website and discern your interests, personality, ambitions and professional experience.

4. Build a network

Of course, one of the most important aspects of building a personal brand is networking. Get involved in professional clubs or associations. Join boards of local community groups and get involved in volunteer activities. Once you have a strong network, continue to build it and keep in touch with the people in your network.

Also, focus on the quality, not quantity, of your network. You want to make good, solid connections you can sustain easily, not just collect hundreds of business cards from people who may or may not remember who you are.

Nothing to lose

Personal branding is about collecting your accomplishments and constantly pushing to better yourself professionally. A strong personal brand can get you noticed, help you maintain confidence in your chosen profession and keep you at the forefront of opportunity.