Your Personal Brand
So what in the heck does that mean anyway?
In the business world, a brand is anything—a symbol, design, name, sound, emotion, tone, and much more—that separates one thing from another. Your personal brand is how the world sees YOU. Jennifer Anniston looks like the nice All American girl next door (that doesn’t seem to age!). Oprah Winfrey is self-made, compelling, authentic (and wealthy!) Much like the business world; it is the qualities that define YOU. The best part is, YOU have the power to decide what that looks like.
It all starts with understanding what motivates you. What do you value and what drives you in your personal and professional life? What can make you get up early in the morning, and lose sleep at night? Sometimes that is hard to define. When you have been doing the same thing day in, and day out, you can lose perspective. You can lose yourself. Before you know it, it’s ten years down the road, and you are wondering how you got to the place you are right now!
If you need help to rediscover what motivates you, I would consider completing an online personality assessment questionnaire. They analyze behavioral and occupational data and gauge the underlying needs that a person needs to perform at their best. Happy people are productive (successful) people. I took both The Myer-Briggs Assessment and the Birkman Method assessment tests at a minimal cost. Both were extremely helpful. Some of the feedback I was aware of, but it also opened my eyes to some of my other strengths.
Once you can define your values, your personal mission, and understand your unique attributes, it’s time to create and communicate your personal brand. I would start by constructing your "30-second commercial." Some people refer to this as your elevator pitch. When a potential employer asks "tell us a little about yourself," you need to be prepared to make a great first impression. Your advertisement about YOU should contain three major elements:
1. Your background and relevant professional highlights
2. Some discussion of accomplishments in the background
3. Your objective that will tell the listener what areas you are exploring, researching, or considering.
Ultimately, you want to be comfortable enough with your 30-second commercial that you have several versions depending on the circumstances. Here is an example of a generic one that I have morphed to match job prospects in the past-
“I can summarize who I am in three words – committed, competitive, and contagious.
My expertise is in building and executing strategic plans to meet and exceed goals. I am good at identifying customer opportunities and finding ways to address those gaps. I have a track record of winning… whether it be key business indicators, securing new business, or developing talent.
My most recent paid position was working for Coca-Cola Refreshment as an Area Sales Manager, where I was responsible for a team of forty sales associates. I was accountable for the Territory growth in San Diego and Imperial Counties, Key Account relationships, forecasting volume and product needs, and promotional execution. While I was there, I met or exceeded goals in each of the three years I held that position and delivered best in class results achieving a 13% increase in volume and 10.5% in gross profit in my last year, which was the best finish for the entire West Region.
I believe that my commitment and passion to being successful at whatever I am doing is contagious. I can deliver a message (vision if you will) and get "buy-in" from my audience. I am currently looking for the right position, working for a company that shares my values about pride, performance, and accountability.”
I know very few people that are comfortable writing or talking about themselves, but this is no time to be shy. You only get one shot at making a first impression. Believe what you are saying, and recite it with conviction!
The 30-second commercial is only one way to communicate your personal brand. Your sense of style, your posture, your body language- all say something about your brand. I know it can be challenging to have the confidence we're talking about here consistently, but as the saying goes – “Fake it until you make it’! To quote author Sean Covey “We become what we repeatedly do.”
Now that you know what you want, it’s time to start moving forward. There are several ways to promote your brand, and yes, it takes courage. Your message may consist of a blog, website, business card, resume, or portfolio. These mediums can play a huge role in how you are perceived, so it is essential to be authentic and consistent with your message.
I am ABSOLUTELY no genius when it comes to social media, but there are all sorts of incredible articles on the subject on the web. Check them all out, and see what the best fit is for you!
Be brave. Believe in yourself…. There is no time like the present to get started. Have the courage to begin again!