According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the American workforce is expected to grow to more than 164 million by 2024. And while each of us are not competing with every other person on earth, the competition for achieving personal and professional success is stark.
Given the ever-increasing amount of competition, establishing a unique personal brand is key to thriving in today’s professional world.
Amazon founder Jeff Bezos is often quoted for saying; “Your brand is what people say about you when you’re not in the room.” That’s why it is important for individuals to control the narrative around how others perceive them through personal branding.
A personal brand allows each of us to stand out by conveying and leveraging what makes us unique
By effectively establishing and maintaining your personal brand, you can highlight your experiences, qualifications, passions and personality to stand out among the competition.
At its core, effective personal branding ensures that you are presenting the best version of yourself to the world. Personal branding has a number of benefits, including:
- Understanding yourself—A well-established brand helps you to better understand and define who you are, which allows you to recognize your values, skills and overall passions.
- Personal development—Branding allows you to approach your professional goals and aspirations clearly and with an open mind.
- Networking—With an active brand, employers and colleagues are more likely to be attracted to you and connect with you as a professional, which makes networking easier and more rewarding.
An effective personal brand should be authentic to who you are as a person and creates a lasting platform to share your past, present and future endeavors.
But a stellar personal brand cannot be built overnight and it’s something that requires constant nurturing—as you grow as a person, so should your brand.
Whether you’re a young professional or someone who is looking to hit the professional restart button, it’s important to follow six simple steps when developing your brand:
1. Define your aspirations
What are your goals? The first step toward creating a personal brand requires you to be specific and outline what you hope to accomplish professionally.
Your goals should be a guiding light throughout the development process of your brand. Whether you identify short-term or far-reaching goals, it’s important to use them to inform how you define who you are and convey that message to the world.
2. Do your research
What are others doing? One of the most important steps in creating your brand is research. It’s critical to have an understanding of what your competition is doing well and even, not so well. It’s important to understand what works, what doesn’t and where your specific skillset fits in the larger picture.
Social media platforms, especially LinkedIn, are excellent tools for getting a pulse of what others are doing in your industry. You are able to see who the influencers are in your field and how individuals with similar skills are cultivating their personal brands.
3. Determine your brand attributes
How do you describe yourself? Your brand attributes should be pulled from every aspect of who you are, including your personality, skillset and values, among others.
There is no possible way to include every nuance of who you are as a person into your brand attributes. However, boiling these qualities down to five core adjectives that speaks to you who you are will allow you to easily convey your brand to others.
4. Assess your current brand
How are you currently perceived? At this point in the process, it’s important to understand what aspects of your brand attributes don’t align with how you are currently being viewed by others.
You should be able to point out the gaps between your perceived self and your proposed brand. Wherever gaps appear, you can make the necessary changes to align perceptions with your brand. It’s important to note that any changes should remain authentic to who you are as a person. Any changes that don’t align with who you inherently are will come across as fake and only tarnish your personal brand.
5. Create a plan
How are you going to convey your brand? Once you have an understanding of your goals, the competition, your brand and how you are perceived, you can begin implementing a strategy to build your professional persona.
Your game plan should include all aspects of you as a person, from tangible aspects like your attire and behavior to intangible aspects like your skillset and personality. Take your game plan to social media by identifying what platforms work best for building your brand and creating content that aligns with your goals.
6. Manage your brand
The final step in building your personal brand is management. This phase is constantly enduring and requires you to consistently reinforce your brand attributes.
Part of managing your brand is ensuring that your brand grows with you as a person and a professional. Make sure that all aspects of your personal brand are in sync as you evolve – who you are in real life should align with who you are on social media.
Your personal brand is a culmination of who you are—personally and professionally. It should capture the essence of who you are and reinforce whatever aspirations you seek to fulfill.
So, ask yourself, what is my unique story? Once you understand and are able to effectively share that story, you can begin portraying an authentic personal brand that will promote yourself for continued professional success throughout your career.