A personal brand is not one of those things we let take a natural course. Unlike character, which takes an observer time to judge, your personal brand is judged in a matter of first impressions. However, it takes work and careful considerations to build a strong brand that positions you competitively in a market full of qualified and seasoned individuals going for the same opportunities you are looking for. It is a process, a lifelong process that is not an option but a must for anyone interested in building their career and their leadership potential.
Before I share the three elements of personal branding, let me define what personal branding is and is not. A personal brand is what you are known for; that which people come to you for. The term personal brand is believed to have been first used by Tom Peters in 1997 in a management article he wrote for Fast Company Magazine, where he emphasized that marketing the "brand you" is one of most important ways of succeeding in today's business world. While social media is a great tool to market your personal brand, a personal brand goes beyond your social media activity. So how then can one build a strong personal brand in today's knowledge economy? I hope that these three elements of personal branding will get you asking the correct questions about the brand that you are building.
Value proposition; What do you stand for?
As simple as this question sounds, I have been surprised at how difficult the question is to many of us. I for one, took a long time to figure out what it is I stand for. To some people, knowing what they stand for came very early in life through careful guidance by the adults in their lives. It can become more confusing if you have several things you are passionate about. But here is my litmus test; what imperfection around you are you mostly uncomfortable with that you want to perfect? Like Steve Jobs says, what is the problem you want to solve, or what wrong do you want to right? These questions could help lead you to finding what it is you stand for; that which you value.
The next question in developing your personal brand is "what makes you stand out?" The answer to this question may not be so hard to come by once you identify your value proposition in 1. above. What is it that you do better than most people and that which you are easily commended for? You would be surprised to know that most of us show our differentiation quite early in life as children. It would help if you could take a journey down the memory lane and look at what is it that you have always been commended for from your childhood. It so happens that in our adulthood, we end up in careers that we are not even cut out for due to choices we make out of ignorance or choices that are made for us by our parents, teachers or recruiters. If this is you, it may help to focus more on your childhood memories.
Marketability; What makes you compelling?
As soon as you define what makes you stand out, the last question you have to answer is whether or not your differentiation is compelling. I believe how compelling your differentiation is, totally depends on you; and this is what building a brand is all about; making what you are about so compelling that you stand out TALL as "you", and not as anybody else.
The topic of personal branding is broad and the three elements of personal branding are even broader. In the next blog, we will look at different values and how value assessment can help you define your value proposition.