Marketing 101 - Cultivating Your Personal Brand

I know what you’re thinking: “What is this junk? I didn’t sign up for any online marketing courses!” The truth is, however, that we all need to know a little marketing. You’re a hard worker, and while you need the right wardrobe to foster your ambitions, you also need a strong personal brand to market yourself with. In this day and age, we’re all branded, whether we like it or not. We might as well make the most of it, and market ourselves to our advantage! As it’s put in a clever article that I read recently, you’re the CEO of “Me Inc.”, so act wisely! 

Okay, now that I just freaked you out by appointing you the CEO of a very important corporation (aka, YOU), you may be wondering what your first move is to ensure its success.  The most important thing to do in order to take advantage of the inevitable branding phenomenon, is to deliberately cultivate your brand so that you’ll stand out, and be perceived in a way that’ll help you accomplish your goals. Your personal brand can be crucial in guiding your elevator pitch, what your LinkedIn Profile looks like, and even what you spend your time doing (besides binge-watching reality TV, of course).

But before you can start using your personal brand to knock everyone’s socks off, you need to figure out what your brand is all about! A good brand brings to mind certain attributes, characteristics, and values. So how can you really hone in on what yours should say about you? Here’s the first assignment:

First: Write a list of qualities you want to be known for, or that you want people to associate with you. After you have a nice list going, group together the qualities that are similar, and find the common thread between the things you aspire to be. It’s important to be able to put words to how you’d like people to perceive you. 

Next: Figure out what your strengths are! This might seem like a simple task, but you’d be surprised at how many people have no idea how to articulate what they’re good at! A really fun way to get to the bottom of this is to complete a Johari Window.  All you have to do is pick the top five or six words that you think describe you, and send the link to your friends and family so they can pick their top five or six words that describe you. Your Johari Window will show you your strengths that you and the people around you see, as well as strengths that you might not have even been aware of!
You should also reflect on what makes you unique. What do people come to you for? These things will also be your strengths.

Then: Outline your goals. What are you passionate about? Where do you want to be in three, five, or ten years? Yada, yada, yada…I’m sure you’ve been asked about your goals more than enough at this point in your life, so I trust that you know what you’re doing to some extent.  My only tip here is to combine the strengths of the traits that you already have with the qualities that you want to be known for, and figure out how they can lend themselves to work with what your goals are (I’ll save my sappy life-goals spiel for another day, don’t worry). 

Lastly: Develop a brand story. Think of this as writing a little auto-biography. It should include your past experience, what your strengths are, what you’re presently doing, and where you’re heading. Again, this may seem a little simplistic…most people assume that when they need to write or speak about themselves, they’ll just know what to say. Coming from personal experience, however, it can be harder than you'd think! You’re going to want to tie together everything you’ve established in the prior three steps of this little homework assignment, and translate it all into a digestible piece of writing that’s maybe around 200 words or so. This blurb will summarize your personal brand, and be useful any time you need to introduce yourself in some way!

So now that you’ve got your brand all figured out, what do you do with it? Not so fast! You’ll have to wait until next week’s article. Until then, don’t forget to do your homework!

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