It's become more important than ever for professionals to display strong interpersonal skills when looking for work.
STEPS TO DEVELOP YOUR PERSONAL BRAND
Find out what makes your brand different
Your "Personal Branding Toolkit"
Dan Schwabel (2009) suggests the following elements needed for any successful branding enterprise.
WHAT IS PERSONAL BRANDING?
Personal branding is a marketing tool designed to help align how other people (your co-workers and supervisors, clients and customers, etc.) view your strengths and abilities with how you view these attributes yourself (Schwabel, 2009).
According to Schwabel (n.d.), there are three areas which make up the personal brand: Value proposition, which means what skills, attitude, appearance, and other personal features you bring to the table; Differentiation, meaning how you set yourself apart from the competition; and Marketability, or what it is about your brand that makes employers want to hire you.
One of the most important things to remember about brands is that they are basically promises; that is, they are about expectations and perceived value and utility, backed up by delivery of that value (Hansen, n.d.). A personal brand involves generating a “buzz”, and then following through on the promises you have made about yourself and your abilities. In branding, it is not enough to simply communicate to potential employers who you are; you must get across what you want those people to expect from you and how you want to be perceived (Rampersad, 2008).
HOW A PERSONAL BRAND CAN HELP YOU
In this competitive job market, you will need to set yourself apart from the competition, and emphasize what unique traits and abilities you have that no one else can offer (Schwabel, n.d.). This is the nature of your personal brand: it lets other people know what makes you "you", and how the particular skillset you bring to the table can benefit them.
A personal brand also involves knowing your audiences needs, and tailoring your message to show how well you cater to those needs. As you begin to market yourself, a personal brand can unify your message, but you must remain consistent in terms of both message and delivery on that message if you are going to be successful (Yette, 2009). The steps you take in developing your personal brand (outlined below) will make you more aware of what the market wants and how you can fit the bill; the process can aid you in focusing your outward image and refining your knowledge of how that image is perceived in your area of specialization.
Peters (1997) suggests four things that a personal brand can help bring to light about you, four areas of their self-image which everyone, regardless of what their particular specialty, needs to be aware of. First is how well you work in teams, and how much of a supportive player you are. Second, as mentioned above, is that you must be seen as an expert at something important and valuable to the organization. Third, a personal brand can give you the long view on what it is you are about, and can therefore enhance your "visionary" or leader qualities. Finally, in marketing yourself with a brand, you will show how much of a savvy businessperson you really are, that you indeed really are concerned with the practical, nuts-and-bolts aspects of business life.
Volunteer: This means not only volunteering outside the workplace, to garner new skills and build your network, but also volunteering for additional work at the workplace, to increase your visibility and value (Peters, 1997; Yette, 2009).
Word-of-mouth marketing: Your greatest asset in building your brand identity is the network of people who know and value what you do-- you will want to nurture your network as much as you can, and they will in turn advertize your brand, what you do and what you stand for (Peters, 1997).
Power of reputation: You will need to learn to use what you are known for in your organization or field to your advantage. What do you do better than anyone else? Herein lies your power-- to continue to satisfy the promises that your previous work, the basis for your reputation, has set out for you (Peters, 1997).
Feedback: Since your brand is about how others perceive you, it is essential to find out what exactly that is, by asking family, friends, and colleagues how they view you in relation to the brand you are creating. Branding is always a work-in-progress, and feedback from people whose opinions you value will go a long way toward aiding in this process (Schwabel, n.d.).