Thursday, December 15, 2011

Your Personal Brand

From the crocodile on your polo to the initials on your underwear, you are branded. Why do you automatically know what the words Nike and Coca Cola mean? It’s because they’re the top two recognized brands in the world… they’re so international the only other word that beats it is “no”. And it’s all because of their strong brand campaigns. Everywhere you look there are brands: the browser you’re reading this from, the chocolate milk the guy across the hall is drinking… where does your name stand in the mix of things? It’s time you become more than the brands you use and stand out by developing your own personal brand.

You might wonder what the point of branding yourself is. Simple, who do you think will look more professional, the applicant with a plain resume – or the one with a logo and business card? Personal branding is the process of marketing ourselves to others and making our name represent our specialties.

To brand yourself you must first know yourself. Is your self-impression equal to how people perceive you? Do you know your strengths and skills well enough to specialize? Here’s a few ways you can start defining your name to the public:

1.       Business Cards
Carry a few with you at all times – you never know when you could give one out! And if someone ever asks for your information it’s an easy solution.

2.       Resume
Your resume should describe your skills and focus on your area of specialization.

3.       Portfolio
Keep a collection of work you’ve done in relation to your specialization so you may showcase your work to potential employers.

4.       Blog/Website
Having a blog or website to showcase your work is a great asset. You could even include this information on your business card.

5.       Linked In
Complete your LinkedIn profile and connect with professionals. The people you are connected to are just as important as the words on your page. Remember – this is a professional profile, don’t go adding people you met at the bar or old highschool friends unless it’s for networking purposes.

6.       Facebook Profile
Use your privacy settings! Facebook even updated the interface to make it easier for you. Keep your status updates professional – using lyrics to describe how sad your life is is unnecessary.

7.       Tweets
Is your twitter account focused on specific topics or are you tweeting people about how much you drank last night and responding to every possible trend. If your account isn’t protected then your tweets had better follow your personal brand.

8.       Wardrobe
Your wardrobe makes a lasting impression. A classmate of mine always wore a skate hat & wanted it to be part of his brand image. Once you make a decision like that you have to stick with it. If he showed up in a suit one day it would seem out of character for his brand. Chose a wardrobe that suits you and your personality.

9.       Email Address
sexychicka69@yahoo.com will probably not receive an email after she drops off her resume. If you haven’t already switched to Google do it now! yourname@gmail.com will look a lot more professional, and it’s more efficient than Hotmail too.

By branding yourself you are attaching your name to a specific area of expertise. To make your brand last you need to walk, talk and breathe it. Create a brand manual to assist you in keeping to your brand. The manual should describe in detail what your brand is, why it was created, future goals and standards. Take a look at Brock University’s Brand Toolkit for reference.

Begin creating your personal brand over the holidays so the next time you tell someone your name, they’ll know exactly what it means.

Samantha

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