Building your personal brand

We all know the benefits of good branding. When you hear the name of your favorite brand, something specific comes to mind; something you associate with and attribute value. If you’ve ever wondered what the purpose of personal branding is, there’s your answer!

Personal branding identifies you as the professional you are and promotes your distinct value. What do you want others to think of when they hear your name? So and so is … what? Personal branding fills in the blank with your unique value proposition. It’s often said, if you don’t take the initiative to brand yourself, someone else will. If you don’t want to leave it to chance, here are a few principles to help you build a strong personal brand.

Define yourself
The best place to begin is with you. Your personal brand should be an accurate reflection of who you are. It should be authentic, not something that’s perceived or contrived. This requires some introspection. Who are you? What do you value? What makes you unique? What kind of problems do you solve? Why should others pay attention? These are important questions to answer as you begin the process of building your personal brand. They will serve as the focus and foundation of your value proposition.

Identify your audience
Who do you want to reach with your personal brand? If you want to be known as an expert in your field, who are the people you want to persuade? Is there a niche group of professionals you want to target with your branding message? What media sources are popular among these groups? Understanding who you are talking to, where they congregate and how they access information is crucial to promoting your personal brand.

Pick your platform
How will you promote your personal brand? Social media offers a world of opportunities for communicating your value proposition to the world, and they are very effective, just be careful not to limit your efforts to LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter. Think outside the bounds of conventional methods. Create a personal website that showcases your value. Contribute to industry-specialized blogs or begin one yourself. Write an article on a timely topic that will garner interest or create a buzz. Volunteer to speak at events that you have subject matter expertise in. And, in everything, make a point to build relationships with those around you.

Branding is an effective way to steer your career in the right direction. By following these three basic principles, you will be well on your way to building a strong personal brand.