You, Inc: The Art of Personal Branding
The saying the "world is your oyster" has gone literal with the way the world is being shaped today. The emergence of the internet and its many interconnected tentacles has created close connections with everyone and everything with no limits or boundaries. Because of this, gone are the days of when the term "branding" was used to refer to large corporations and their image otherwise known as the public perception. Today with a plethora of social networking sites such as facebook, myspace, twitter and linkedin the scope of branding has now become personal. This already thriving and continuously burgeoning culture has negated old procedures for being seen, heard and yes even hired.
An attractive resume is no longer your single determining factor for entry into the workplace.
These days, potential employers are googling, facebooking and twittering you directly. They are delving deeper into potential employees lives because they are curious about your brand image.
The advent of open living on the internet has placed regular folks like you and me on the same level playing field as some of the larger companies out there, allowing us too, the same opportunities for not only selling ourselves to the world but becoming our own brand and business engines. Today, so many other factors come into play when it pertains to how you are perceived by possible employers, colleagues, friends and the world. Whether you realize it or not everything you do is a reflection of who you are and therefore how the world perceives you. You have now become your own corporation and your appearance, words, actions, networks and personal and professional decisions will determine the value of YOU, Inc. This therefore means that the ball is really in your court. You don't need a PR Firm, a sales and marketing team or an ad agency to determine your success. Though these professional entities can help, the success of your brand lies solely in your hands and who better to promote and market yourself than you?!
Personal Branding is a multifaceted concept that entails physical image - how you dress and communicate both verbally and non-verbally; your academic background and credentials; your social networks and how you engage online i.e. your posts, your pictures; your career path and goals; your personal and professional networks; your personality and character (value systems) and how you package and deliver all those attributes to the world.
Here are some simple personal branding tips that can help you start creating YOU, INC.
1. DRESS THE PART
Always be the best representation of who and what you say you are. You can't tell people you're a makeup artist when you're makeup is smudged all over. If you're a CEO there should be no doubt in anyone's mind that you're an Executive when they meet you for the first time. Your appearance is your packaging, so remember to always dress for success!
2. CONTROL THE CONTENT ON ALL YOUR SOCIAL NETWORKS
Remember everything you post online is seen by millions! Be certain that what you post is positive and always a reflection of your values and your brand. If your boss is a friend on facebook and twitter do not post or tweet "Can't wait to get home from this boring job". You're sure to be reprimanded or maybe even fired. 8 percent of companies fired employees in 2009 because of questionable social networking updates (Ostrow 2009; Schawbel 2010). Also, don't get fired before you're hired. Potential employers will search for you online before they decide whether you're a good candidate for the position. If your page is filled with profanity and lude, questionable pictures then be assured you will NOT be hired as you will be seen as not being a good fit for the companies corporate culture.
3. CREATE A FOLLOWING
Because 110 billion minutes are spent on social networks and blog sites it means that this audience is huge and still growing. This therefore means that at your disposal is a diverse, global and FREE audience. If you own your own business having a loyal following gets you seen and heard. This is called creating brand awareness and brand visibility. Having such a presence can open many doors for you. Interestingly enough, in 2009, Best Buy posted a job listing on its website that required having 250+ Twitter followers (Baneree 2009). This means, that employers are becoming interested in hiring persons whose own personal brand i.e. connections and networks will help grow their company.
4. BE AUTHENTIC
Never assume to be someone else other than yourself. Find your strengths and passions and allow people to see the real you. Be sure to always be seen as credible and interesting. Showcase your character, your personality and allow people to get to know you as a real person. People can tell when you are not authentic so always be yourself!
5. KEEP NETWORKING
Whether you realize it or not you are always within a network. Whether you're with family or friends or at work or church. Always make use of your connections. Like the saying says 6 degrees of separation? Well sometimes there's only 3 degrees! Don't be afraid to let the people around you know who you are and what you do and be brave enough to ask others what it is that they do as well. You never know who may be looking for a service or skill you offer and vice versa. So make use of every person you know and meet. Family networks in particular always end up being invaluable.
6. BE EFFICIENT
Always be the person who gets the job done and done right! Employers value your time and expertise when you display strong management skills. So don't procrastinate on projects or tasks. Attack them right away. Create a timeline and set deadlines and follow them. This is also a life lesson in discipline and is a way of training your mind to focus and deliver quality work in a timely fashion. Once you've mastered this, you will realize how that efficiency carries over into other aspects of your life.
7. ALWAYS BE POSITIVE
The true secret to success. Don't be the person who sees the glass half empty. Try to look on the bright side of things even when it doesn't look that bright. Try to solve problems rather than dwell on them. Always greet people with a smile and always be pleasant. No one wants to be around a short-tempered, angry or complaining person. Trust me, that sort of demeanor is very unattractive. Positive people are happier and more successful. If you have difficulty with a task or project don't be afraid to ask for help or advice. Having a strong mentor a text message or phone call away who can guide you is a plus!
8. BE PREPARED
About two-thirds of the American population which is around 194 million people are online where the majority of job recruiting takes place now. (eMarketer 2008b; Schawbel 2010). According to Dan Schawbel, communication skills such as writing skills (ability to write a descriptive email) and verbal skills (presentation skills) have "de-emphasized the GPA." Employers are looking for employees with personality and who demonstrate initiative. (Schawbel 2010) Differentiate yourself as much as possible by acquiring the skills you need through degrees, certificate programs or seminars and by displaying strong personable skills that will be deemed as valuable to your potential employer. Before going into a job interview research the company and ask relevant questions. Hiring personnel like this! It shows you took the time to learn about the company and that you're a serious contender. If you're thinking of starting a new business venture, remember to do your research thoroughly and to seek the advice of persons who have been there and done it. Creating a business plan is also a great way to help guide you as you're establishing your company. It will also be a very important tool if you plan on approaching financial institutions for start-up loans. For help with starting a company visit: www.sba.gov.
9. BE CONFIDENT
"Confidence will make or break your self-esteem, your ability to communicate, and your opportunities for success in life." - Dan, Schawbel. Without confidence, you are not believable. Confidence unconsciously demands respect from others. People admire confidence and are more willing to listen to someone who is sure of who they are and what they are about. Besides, what have you got to lose?!
10. BE GRATEFUL
It's so easy to be ungrateful in life. Many of us always want more. Whether it's more money, more friends, a new car, a bigger house. What's important though is taking note of the small things and being grateful for them. By being thankful for the blessings you have now, it prepares you to truly appreciate the bigger blessings to come. Whenever you find yourself complaining or unhappy because of what you lack always remember that there is someone out there with a lot less than you.
Although I've outlined 10 basic essentials for personal brand-building, so much more goes into effective brand-building. It is important to note that developing and establishing your personal brand will not happen overnight. It takes time, strategy and a clear, solid plan. Always remember though, that the underlying basis of developing your brand is in finding your true self. With that being said, it is extremely important that you take the time to find out who you really are and to link that to your passions, skills and talents and utilize those qualities with your desired path. Be your own Commander-in-Chief and dictate what your personal and professional path will be and work towards creating a brand that positively and effectively displays that. According to The Boston Globe, Career Columnist Penelope Trunk, "In a world where there are no more corporate ladders to land on, your brand is the platform your career will stand on." (Schawbel 2010). Don't leave your success to chance. Develop your personal brand now! www.myimagematters.com