In today’s increasingly competitive digital climate, building a personal brand — essentially, a professional reputation — has become more important than ever.
“We’re now competing for jobs with people who live halfway around the world because the work environment allows us to be virtual,” says William Arruda, a personal-branding consultant and the founder of Reach Personal Branding.
If you want to advance your career, he explains, you really need to define and communicate your “unique promise of value.”
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Define your brand
Much of the initial process of discovering your brand comes from cultivating information from those around you, says Arruda. He says a good way to begin is by asking people questions like, “What three words would you use to describe me?” or “What do you think is my greatest strength?” and looking for common themes that emerge.
Introductions can also help to clarify your specific brand attributes, he explains. Someone might say, “This is the most creative person we have on our team” or “This is the most buttoned-up person we’ve ever worked with — she’s on top of every detail.” In the end, defining your brand can be boiled down to recognizing what is authentic to you, what differentiates you from everyone else who does what you do.
Tell your story
Whether you’re building a website or crafting your LinkedIn bio, you must be able to tell your story in a way that captivates people and makes them interested in you, says Arruda. This means elaborating not only on what you’ve done but who you are. “You want to focus on your strengths and be able to provide examples of what they are and why they make you so great,” he says.
You also need to have a distinct point of view. “It’s not good enough to say you’re really good at customer service,” says Arruda. “What’s your point of view around customer service? Is it that the customer is always right?” While you’re bound to have people who connect with you, there will also be people who might not. “That’s one of the scary things about personal branding — it’s not about pleasing all of the people; it’s about taking a stand and connecting with those people for whom that resonates.”
Target your audience
“Personal branding is not about being famous, it’s about being selectively famous,” says Arruda. “You need to make sure that the people who need to know you, know you, and that you’re always visible to them.” If your target audience frequently uses LinkedIn, or they prefer Twitter or Facebook, then build your profile and your visibility on those sites, he says. That goes for the real world, too. Ask yourself, “What conferences do they go to? What associations do they belong to?” Then actively integrate yourself into their world.
Evolve as you go
Throughout the process, it’s important to take a step back and ask yourself if what you’re doing is actually working and bringing you closer to your ultimate goal, says Arruda.
In the end, a strong personal brand is constantly evolving, so it’s important to keep tweaking as you go.