May 5, 2011
Self-improvement is an ever-present concept that is on the mind of most entrepreneurs these days. Nowadays, it is about improving not just one aspect of an individual, but to improve as one whole entity. It is self-packaging, rather than self-improvement. This holistic approach makes a person unique from the rest of the crowd. This is called personal branding.
Personal branding is “the process whereby people and their careers are marked as brands (Wikipedia).” For instance, take Michael Jordan’s Air Jordan brand. People, even today, love these shoes because they have been endorsed by Jordan, even though they are a Nike product. Or how about Donald Trump? A real estate mogul by profession, and yet his name is on everything he approves from buildings to steaks. That is the power of a personal brand.
Define Who You Are
Personal branding happens without effort. Whether you like it or not, whether you want it or not, people associate certain things with you. It could be the way you talk, the way you dress, or it could simply be your opinions. These unique attributes define you, which then become your personal brand. When given a little thought, personal branding can become a powerful tool to improve your career, relationships and life.
From entrepreneurs to athletes to lawyers to ministers — just about everyone needs personal branding. It’s what sets you apart from others.
For example, when President Obama called for “Change we can believe in” during his campaign, the American people were ready to believe him, because ‘change’ was associated with “brand Obama”. Years of building an image that revolved around changes, and translating beliefs into solid results gave him a distinct brand.
Tools to Boost Personal Brand Power
Leverage the internet to define your brand. The Internet is an ocean where you can drown yourself or with some ingenuity find yourself in an island paradise. A sure way to build your personal brand in this high-tech generation is through social networking.
Take for example Scott Monty of Ford Motor Company. By being active on the Twitter, he reaps two benefits. One, by discussing the content of Ford, he has increased the credibility and reputation of the company. Two, in the process he has created an image of himself as a ‘social media strategist’.
Use networking sites to broaden your image. Facebook is the third most trafficked website in the world, behind Google and Yahoo. Therefore, if you are looking for new clients on Facebook don’t forget to develop a stand-alone business presence. Entrepreneurs can utilize Facebook to:
1. Engage with current and potential customers
2. Create a community around your business
3. Promote content and spark industry related conversations
Develop relationships within industry-related blogs and forums. Use blogs and social networking sites to regularly share your opinions and comments. Take it a step further by adding visual aids and writing articles for websites with author profiles that track popularity. Your presence should not only be felt, but also create an image of who you are and what you are capable of. Personal branding guru, Dan Schawbel suggests, “Your blog is your space… completely yours to do with whatever you want.”
Network offline, and go public with your brand. Networking offline will enhance the credibility of your personal brand. Maximize visibility of your beliefs, passions and goals by actively pursuing them.
George Clooney, along with his father – journalist Nick Clooney, traveled to Sudan to extend support to two million refugees who fled the brutality in Darfur. The Clooneys helped the International Rescue Committee (IRC) aid workers manage the refugee camps. In addition, they raised approximately $3 million along with the cast of ‘Ocean’s Thirteen’ for Darfur relief. When Clooney was asked about his effort, he said, “If celebrity is a credit card, then I’m using it. I knew I had to shine light on this situation.”
A Personal Brand Toolkit
The key to a successful personal brand is to first establish your identity. After establishing it, turn your attention to the message and what you represent. Stick to what you believe in and voice it passionately. Ensure that your business cards, portfolios, blogs, and your networking profiles revolve around your niche. Utilize every customer facing touch point as a part of your personal branding toolkit. Spread the word about who you are, what you do and why you do it. When your knowledge benefits people and your message is understood, you will eventually become the brand.
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