From the desk of Ramond Walker, Career and Life Development Instructor:
How to Build Your Personal Brand
Personal branding may be a newer concept to some, but its roots go back centuries. The reason we remember conquerors like Napoleon and Genghis Khan or leaders like Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and Franklin D. Roosevelt is because of their memorable brands. If you are only limiting your brand to social media, a website, and logo, you have diminished the significance of its real value. I define personal branding as packaging your core values, professional reputation, and unique skills to solve a specific problem for a specific audience. Your brand is your living legacy. It’s the reputation that precedes you. In today’s competitive career market, it is imperative that you understand how to make yourself stand out. If you are behind when it comes to your personal brand, use these three tips to help you get started.
1. Define Your Mission
At the heart of every successful brand, there is a strong mission or ‘why?’ Whether it is Coca-Cola or Apple, all major brands began with a cause to champion or a major problem to solve. Google’s ‘why’ is to organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful. LinkedIn’s is to connect the world’s professionals to make them more productive and successful. Each of these companies are driven by an insatiable desire to solve a larger problem for their respective communities.
What is your ‘Why?’ What kind of problems do you want to solve in the world? How will your life shape the earth while you are here? The answers to these questions can carve the beginnings of a thrilling narrative to your personal brand. One thing I suggest doing to help with this is writing what I call a Legacy Letter. This is a letter from the future you congratulating yourself on all of the major accomplishments you have made in your professional and personal life. By doing this, it helps you to see the overarching things you would like to be remembered for and it also helps you to reverse plan those things into actionable goals.
2. Identify Your Assets
Naturally, there are skills and talents that you are good at. Whether you are an analytical mastermind or an engaging speaker, your innate skills and abilities are considered your personal assets. For example, I have always had a natural gift to motivate others. Whether it was my friends or family, I was always known to be the person to go to if anyone ever needed encouragement. You also have skills and abilities that come easily to you. The key is to identify which skills align with your mission and which skills do not. You may be great playing basketball, but if it doesn’t help you solve a problem you are passionate about, it may not be the best skill to highlight.
Some skills you may be innately great at, but others you may have learned to be good at. Either way, if you have skills that you enjoy using and they directly align with helping you solve a major problem, they should definitely be something you consider. I suggest using an assessment like Strengths Finder
or 16 Personalities
to really help with this. These assessments can give you an in-depth analysis of your skill set.
3. Choose Your Platform
The last thing you have to do to build a personal brand is to choose a platform that is right for you. Your goal is to position yourself as an expert in the problem area you are targeting. Because of this, having a platform that others can find you on in that area is crucial to your branding strategy. For some, it may be blogging, and for others, consulting. For many, it may simply be working at a specific type of company as a career.
One of my longtime friends specializes in the development of a niche software. Instead of starting his own business, he has found more credibility working for a small firm that is the leader in servicing that software. Had he tried to launch out on his own, he may have never had the same level of experience or the number and quality of clients that he has working for the company. It is important to find a platform in which your target audience naturally “hangs out.” If your audience looks on Craigslist to find solutions, your platform should be there. If they are at tradeshows, you should have a networking platform there.
Personal branding is simply about getting your passion fueled mission and skillset to the people who need them the most. It is about identifying what makes you unique and maximizing opportunities to capitalize on that uniqueness. With a little bit of time and development, your brand can position you as an expert and create unlimited opportunities.