Building an easily recognizable brand with clear values is the number one way to sell products and services, so why should it be any different when it comes to selling ourselves?
Personal Branding is simply proactively controlling how you are perceived in the market place as a part of your career development.
More and more organisations can see the value of having individuals with strong personal brands. Frequently, organisational brand and personal brand can become intrinsically interlinked.
Take Michael O'Leary for example. You automatically know which airline he represents because his own personal brand is so prolific, that it in turn raises the company's profile.
Many of our clients in Carr Communications can see the value in their employees developing and promoting their personal brand and indeed many actively encourage their staff to do so.
How to Discover Brand You?
The first step is to identify your niche and decide how you would like to be perceived.
When discovering your personal brand, ask yourself the following questions;
What would I like people to think when they hear my name?
How do I make people feel?
What words do others use to describe me?
How do people benefit by working with me?
What are my unique strengths?
What makes me valuable?
What are my skills?
What are my achievements?
What are my core values?
What do I stand for?
You don’t have to answer every single one, but by the time you’ve reflected on them, certain key words should be springing to mind. And then you need to ask yourself some questions about where you’re headed:
What are my goals? Ambitions? Am I moving decisively towards those goals?
What do you want to achieve? What do I need to do to achieve this?
What do I want to be known for?
What’s my personal story?
What type of relationships do I want to have?
Who should I be talking to?
What distinguishes me from my competitors?
Who are my competitors?
You need to ask yourself these questions because you need to be clear about your own personal goals, your own strengths and weaknesses, before you can go any further.
Making a list of your own ‘key words’ will help you develop your image - your personal brand and help you be much more strategic in the way you communicate across the web and in person.
How to Develop Brand You?
Once you’ve discovered your personal brand and decided on your goals and objectives, you next need to put a strategy in place to ensure that you achieve those aims and stand out from the crowd.
The two key ingredients to developing and maintaining a personal brand are strategy and time. No one changes their life overnight. It’s generally a series of small, incremental changes that lead you to where you want to be.
Another vital ingredient is self-belief. This is absolutely essential to maintaining your personal brand.
Keep your message simple so that people will remember you. Don’t try to be too many things to too many people. Give just enough information to make people want to ask you to tell them more. Let them know what you can do for them. Be memorable.
Be consistent. Building a brand is all about recognition; therefore your image, website, blog, social profiles, business cards etc. should all have a consistent look and feel.
Invest in good photography. In an age that is so image-driven, good visual presentation can’t be stressed enough. If you are setting up your own social media profiles, blog, or website, invest in good photography, a good web designer and or even a good image consultant.
Audit your online presence. One of the first things you should do when developing your personal brand, is google your name. How do you rank in a google search? It’s probably one of the first things your clients will do when thinking about doing business with you. Check your online reputation. See what information is out there about you already. What key things are missing? And most importantly, what, perhaps, needs to be taken down?
Check the language you use to describe your LinkedIn profile, Twitter account, Facebook account, website, business cards and blog. Is it in keeping with your personal brand? Are the images of you online in keeping with your personal brand?
How to Promote Brand You?
Once you’ve developed your personal brand you have to start communicating it to your target audiences. Sadly it’s not a case of ‘build it and they will come’. You have to actively and consistently promote your personal brand.
There are so many ways to actively promote your personal brand. Your personal branding toolkit can consist of business cards, an email address, website or blog, professional headshots, testimonials, a portfolio and social media profiles. Every single channel of communication you use should exude your personal brand.
Another way to promote your personal brand is through the media; print, radio, television or online channels or websites. You have to offer your expertise and time to the media. This can be done in the form of a press release, or a simple pitch to a journalist or producer. Usually it’s a combination of both.
When pitching to the media, follow these simple tips;
Be audience focused. You need to ask yourself, what is it I have to say that will be of interest, or benefit or entertaining to their listeners, viewers or readers? How will it affect them? You need a hook, angle or story. Make sure your pitch is not a blatant advertisement for your product or yourself. Tie it into current events, the season or holiday, or important things going on in the community, country or the world.
Target the right media. If you’re a doctor for example, there’s no point pitching a feature on healthy eating tips for the elderly to Spin 1038. Before you pitch, ask yourself, will what I am saying be relevant to their target audience?
Timing is key: How is what you have to say relevant to what is happening in the world at the moment? If you are offering advice on pensions for example, was there an announcement in the budget on pensions? Or a new report or survey published? Or an event coming up on the topic? Or even, is it World Pensions Day?
Be available: If someone is giving you a chance to promote your brand or organisation, make sure you are available. There is nothing more frustrating to a journalist than someone who emails or calls in with a great pitch, you make a slot available for them (on the breakfast show, for example) and then the person says, “Oh you need me to be in studio at 7:30am? That won’t be possible. I won’t be available until after 9am.” (When the breakfast show is over!!)
Send an email first: Let your pitch sink in. But make sure your email gets into the right hands. Get to know the media players for your sector. Research what journalists are writing about your industry. Sending your pitch to firstname.lastname@example.org will usually end up getting lost in a sea of hundreds of emails.
Start Small: Consider publications like steps. I would recommend this approach if you are new to doing media interviews. Get exposure with your local newspapers, local radio stations, and/or specialist magazines and consider these publications as first steps.
Leverage your press: When you get publicity at a local level, share it with national or international publications and add it to your media kit and website. All the PR placements you get are free advertising. Be sure you blog about it, tweet about it, and share it with colleagues, clients, family and friends. Be your own PR guru.
If all else fails…Hire a professional! Any good communications professional worth their salt will have excellent media contacts, which will save you the time and effort of doing research. They’ll work with you to discover your personal brand, put a strategy in place to develop it and promote it effectively, so that you can achieve your goals.
But if you do secure a media interview, make sure you do your homework and think of all potential questions and anticipate how you will answer them. Practice doing mock interviews with colleagues or friends, record yourself and listen back. This will give you more confidence and will also allow you to see where improvements can be made. Remember to be focused on the audience at all times and ask yourself how is what I am saying of interest, of benefit or relevant to them. The most important thing is; if you do get the opportunity to promote ‘Brand You’ in the media, make it count.