“Your brand is what people say about you when you are not in the room”. – Jeff Bezos, founder of Amazon
Most of us tend to think that if you do your best at your job, someone will notice. Unfortunately, in so many cases, this is not enough. The fact that technology and economy are in a continuous change made many people realize that they would have to market themselves if they want to get ahead, whether they are employed or self-employed.
Personal branding, self-marketing or professional development are just the buzzwords for both finding a job, build and develop your career – it is about investing in the business of YOU.
Putting theory into practice is not so hard. Let’s take for example the 4Ps of traditional marketing (even if in the last few years the 4 Ps transformed into 7 or even 8 Ps) and adapt them for self-marketing:
Even if it sounds a little impersonal, this is you. As the product that the marketers want to promote, you should be consistent and recognizable. In order to develop your self-marketing strategy, you have to determine what differentiates you from others, both personal and professional. This is how you build a brand around your core strengths, skills and experience. Nowadays, recruiters look for relevant experience more than your ability to carry out a few specific tasks, therefore you might want to focus on that.
We all know Coca-cola or Apple, but what makes us recognize a can of coke or a MacBook? In the same way you recognize a MacBook when you one, potential employers have to see what you bring on the table, what they will get by working with you.
In other words, it’s about growing your self-awareness: what are your goals? What do you know to do best? Which areas you need to improve upon?
You know your value better than anyone.
First of all you have to realize the value that you add to an organization you want to work for and decide what you are worth and what your bottom line would be, especially if you consider to freelance or become an independent contractor.
The salary is nothing but the price tag on your experiences and accomplishments. In order to decide how much you are worth, it is useful to draw a comparison between what and how you can perform and what other people from your field are performing and how much they get paid. When you go in a grocery store, similar products have more or less the same price, therefore your financial expectations should align with the industry and level of experience.
Find your niche. It’s critical to select a sphere of influence and stick to it. Define your target and be aware of where they spend most of time. Do not spread yourself across communities where your services are not needed, but focus on the areas where your skills would be rewarded. In most cases, it is very useful to go online. Have a blog or a website so that you will increase your brand awareness and people who might need your services would easily find you. With so many tools, it would not be that hard to make yourself easy to find.
The last, but the most important part: Communicate your brand. Now that you built your brand identity you have to let the others know that you exist. If you identified your target, you just have to find the perfect means of communication so that your message reaches them and does not get lost in the clutter.
Networking has the same role. Be sure you have updated your resumes on LinkedIn or other similar websites. Also, you might want to send emails and stay in touch with people that you know professionally or academically. You never know when someone who knows about you might recommend you for a great job.
There are several examples of people who made career using their personal brand and became inspiration for others. Look at Oprah. She became a singular brand born from her own personality. As she said in her final show, “It doesn’t matter what your mamma did; it doesn’t matter what your daddy didn’t do. You are responsible for your life!”
What differentiates the “Oprah” brand from any other is her empathy, the cornerstone of her personal brand. It is in the tone of her voice, her body language, her words, and how she tells a story.
Michael Jordan is the icon of basketball. At least the NBA acknowledges him of it! “Air” Jordan won five MVP awards, ten All-NBA First Team designations, and holds the record for the highest career regular-seasons scoring average of 30.12 points per game. I bet one of your friends is walking around in one of Jordan’s signature shoes, shirts, or even a basketball.
What Donald Trump did for his personal brand was to put his name on everything. Therefore more people know about him, his family, and his connection with luxury products. You need to make sure your name gets out there in the same regard. Whether it’s your Twitter profile, your Facebook page, your business cards, your resume, or a presentation you working on at work, your name should be everywhere. This creates a consistency that will remind people of who you are, and what value you can contribute.
There isn’t a recipe for success, but for sure hard work will get you there. If you develop your personal brand, potential employers will see that you are hardworking, that you invested time and energy in becoming what you are and they can only hope that you will put the same amount of energy and passion in the work you would do for them.