With unemployment hovering at 9.7 percent while good jobs remain scarce, it becomes more important than ever to develop your own personal brand to help survive your career. Our labor market is fiercely competitive with many more eminently qualified people than suitable jobs. In a crowded labor market with many people who have the same set of skills and experience as you do, you need to spend time on developing your own personal brand to remain marketable, whether you’re currently employed or looking for a new job.
Personal branding extends beyond your resume, education and experience; rather it’s all about how you package yourself by using the many tools available in the marketplace today. In journalism, they call it finding you own “voice” that reflects who you are and how you communicate your talents.
Here are some useful tips to help you find your voice and develop your own personal brand:
1. Before you commit to promoting your personal brand, you need to know what your brand is. Ask yourself the following: Who are you and what do you want to do? What do you have to offer in terms of skills and experience? What are your special skills that make you unique? What assets do you possess that have made you a success up to this point in your career? What image do you want to portray that represents who you are and what value you offer someone? Be known for something!
2. Once you’ve asked yourself these questions, ensure your dress and style match what you want to convey to the public. Remember the details when developing or refining your professional image. Make sure to update your look to reflect where you want to be in business. Go through your wardrobe and toss or tailored any items that look dated, worn or just don’t fit. Pay attention to your accessories, such as glasses, shoes, belts, and jewelry. It all counts when you’re updating your personal image, as does hair and make-up.
3. Now, set your long-term goals of where you want to be and possible ways to move forward. I follow the saying, “If you don’t know where you are going, you’ll never get there.” Spend quality time determining what you want for your career and lifestyle before you start promoting yourself. Create a plan and stick to it. Brand for your career, not your job.
4. Get your name out there. People need to know you exist before you can become a brand. Meet people at industry, social and networking events. Make sure to always have a business card on you with your contact information, so people you meet can find you.
5. Use Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter correctly to start building your brand. Each media site is different and should be used correctly to build your social networking that reflects your brand. Your brand needs to be the same on all sites. Try to stay focused on these three sites and skip the others for now. Spend time on doing this right by making sure your profile is professional and reflects your brand. Check for any typing errors on your profile and correct; create a flawless profile.
6. Pay attention to what you say on social media sites by monitoring your comments and remarks. Everything you say on-line is a reflection of you. So when you are posting photos of yourself at a party, think twice before you share your photos with the world. What you post online is you and will affect your brand.
7. When using social media sites, make sure you’re talking about something that solves someone’s problem versus self-promotion. Follow the 80-20 rule where 80 percent of your postings offer useful information and supports others, and 20 percent is spent on promoting what you are doing.
8. Invest money into a good website and PR. Your website is your calling card and the first thing people look at when searching for information on you. Make sure you secure domain names to insure you get the best website address. Hire someone to professionally lay out your website and make updates. Costs for this have come down to an affordable rate. If you have any money left over, look for people who can help you with some public relations; it helps keep your name out there.
Establishing a strong personal brand is key to success in your career. You need to be thought of as the expert in your industry that people think of when they have a need in your area of expertise. Invest time and money into yourself to build your personal brand and watch the opportunities unfold.