Sunday, 13 January 2013

Step 11 - Personal Branding 101

Branding for Yourself for Success

Personal BrandingPublic Relations is often behind great branding ideas. But branding is also a useful tool for job seekers. Because let’s face it, a job market is no different than a consumer market; it is like you’re a product on a store shelf beside other great products, striving to get the customer’s attention and make the sale. 

To be a successful job candidate, we need to stand out and show employers that we are a great product with a complete package. The package is part of the brand and it includes our look (the way we dress), our personality (the way we act), our education (what we know), our experience (what we can do) and our charisma (where we can go). These are like the features of a product. And like any product you want to be effective, stylish, durable and worth the investment. 

1.       Branding builds awareness & recognition

Awareness is all about getting yourself out there so that people can say ‘Oh yeah, I’ve heard of her. I hear she is great with clients.’ This is when awareness becomes recognition. This is similar to when someone gives you a strong recommendation. You are recognized for your accomplishments by others, why strengthens your claims about yourself as a job candidate. I am a strong believer that making others aware of your potential can often lead to great opportunities. 

2.       Branding builds relationships

“Public Relations is the strategic management of relationships between an organization and its various publics through the use of communication.” –Definition  of PR from CPRS

The fact that ‘relationships’ is a key element to the very definition of PR shows how important it is to each PR practitioner. And what some might forget is that we aren’t just responsible for building relationships (or brands) for the companies that we work for. We should be doing it for ourselves. This does two things. It shows we know what we are talking about when it comes to PR and it benefits us by strengthening our brand. 

Relationships are built through connections that make up networks. Networking is touted as the key word for 2013. And as a PR student I can say I have been told many time that networking is the key to getting a job and being successful in communications. But to elaborate on that, I think the networks we make reflect our personal brand, and shows how our brand fits in the industry. So ask yourself, are you building the right kind of network for your brand? 

3.       Branding builds success

Often times, PR efforts are used in conjunction to marketing and advertising to increase sales and ultimately the success of a company. So why wouldn’t we use this for ourselves. How many PR students have been told to make a 30 second commercial so as to ‘sell’ themselves? Isn’t that what our resume and the job interview are all about? Selling ourselves to the employer? 

Branding helps make sales because it also creates consistency. When you make your brand, you should therefore think about all aspect of the job hunt and the progression of your career. You don’t want to say one thing about yourself on your resume and then another in the interview. You don’t want to say you are a good at one thing in person, but then are terrible when placed to do it on the job. This would be false advertising. And the employer would want a refund. 

So how do you brand yourself? 

Here are some great tips on how to brand yourself from DanSchawbel:
1. Understand how others perceive you and how you perceive yourself
2. Define your unique abilities
3. Create a brand toolkit: resume and cover letters, business cards, personal blog, portfolio, social media profiles, wardrobe, email, all these things need to be consistent with your brand.

What to do and What not do do

Here are some great tips recapped from an article on creating your personal brand:
1. Publicize yourself and your voice – Create a blog or comment on LinkedIn group discussions
2. Research and know your competition – this doesn’t have to get ugly. Maybe you can actually help each other by sharing tips and pointers.
3. Be yourself – it’s easiest to create a brand for something real and genuine.

Here are the strongest pointers on mistakes to avoid from an article on LinkedIn Branding:
1. Being unprofessional - this includes in profile pictures
2. Lying about your skills or accomplishments
3. Not including all your links in one place (Twitter, LinkedIn, Blogs)
4. Asking people who don’t know you to write a recommendation

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What do you think about personal branding? Do you think it is necessary or an annoyance? Let me know by commenting. 

P.S. Good Luck with your brand!

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