Monday, 6 March 2017

Build Your Personal Brand: Strategies for Successful Career Branding

Branding can be defined as many things, but it’s best defined as a promise - a promise of the value of the product, a promise that the product is better than all it's competing products, a promise that must be delivered by the company or whosoever manufactures it, to be successful. Branding is not tangible, it is a blend of tangible and intangible elements that make it unique. Branding is a constant process of developing an image, be it of a product or a person so that results can be achieved. For an applicant, either experienced or fresh out of college, it is important to come out clean and have a good brand image.

Why is Branding Essential?

Branding when talked about individuals is called self-branding or personal branding, is essential for career advancement. Personal branding helps define who you are, what you are(what are your achievements and accomplishments), and why you should be looked for. Branding is basically your reputation if we can sum it up in one word. Branding is about creating a name for yourself, showcasing what your skills, talents are and what sets you apart from the crowd, and describing the added value addition you bring to a company.

So, why is personal branding so important? Most job-seekers do not give emphasis on establishing and building their personal or career brand, thinking that their actions speak for them and dream of promotions or new jobs. But it is important to take the time off to master few basic tactics that can help raise your career brand and make you a much more sought out employee or job applicant. Remember, that this world is so competitive, that if you don’t brand yourself, others will, and leave you behind. While it may sound like you may be happy and comply in your job right now, you may really never know when that is going to change.

Management guru Tom Peters, writing in a book Fifty Ways to Transform Yourself from an “Employee” into a Brand …...states: “Regardless of age, regardless of position, regardless of the business we happen to be in, all of us need to understand the importance of branding. We are the CEOs of our own companies: Me, Inc.” He adds, “You’re not defined by your job title and you’re not confined by your job description.”

This piece of the blog takes you through five tactics for structuring and strengthening your personal career brand.

Gain Experience & Trail Accomplishments

Building your brand basically, begins with following your past successes and achieving strategically important new experiences. Your achievements are the stepping stones of your brand story. The achievements could be your extracurricular achievements in college, or a certification from an education partner, an endorsement or recommendation by your colleague or manager in LinkedIn.

But before you search for a new job, take the time to assess and concentrate on how your brand story should be — and build a strategy for gaining the experience in the areas of the skill sets that are needed for the job which make your brand and in which you are weak.

Hence, alongside your job, ask your manager for new and challenging tasks or assignments that will help showcase your brand. Try freelancing or consulting and volunteer for it to gain experience in that skill. If you’re fresher or a student, seek out various internships.

Complete Education/Training

A bare minimum educational qualification is necessary for many careers. However, to be most qualified in your career you may need to complete additional training or certifications courses. This additional education can greatly strengthen your career brand story.

Though you may find it hard to take time out while on the job or arranging finances, always set priorities and find a way to do it. Look out to check if your employer offers an educational reimbursement program. But, Self-learning is always a better option if you have access to the internet.
If you are not sure you need more training and probably want to take help of a mentor, approach someone who is highly respected and knowledgeable in your field and seek advice.

Promote Yourself

So, you have an amazing brand now, but what if no one knows about it? It is like playing in the dark. It's definitely not going to offer you success in your career development. And it is important to you that has every reason to promote the brand. Keep humility out the equation? There is a fine line between boasting and promoting and you need to master it. Remember that though you may not be successful in this,  it’s always better to blunder in promoting yourself than not.

As one is aware the oldest tools of promotion for applicants is the resume or curriculum vitae, and it is the first entry point where you need to start listing all your important skills, education and achievements on your resume. You may even consider having a good objective statement and qualifications summary along with a branding statement on your resume. However, don’t put an end there.

It's always better to create two career portfolios, one for the print version and another an online version. Try having a personal portfolio or a page on LinkedIn, and better so if you have a personal Website. The point is you should let the world read all about your and the benefits your carry as a brand. Remember that your portfolio should cover all important brand schemes: resume, mission statement, a list of accomplishments, articles and working paper samples, speech transcripts if any, awards and recognitions, honor, testimonials etc.

And do remember the experienced lot have to promote their brand on the job. Workers often think that the boss already knows what their accomplishments are, but they often do not and tend to forget most of the times. Though you would have a list of all your achievements at review time, consider exploring and making it obvious for your boss to know your successes during the year.

Become an Expert

  • Nothing builds reliability in a career brand more than proving yourself as an expert in your field. 
  • You can highlight your knowledge by writing articles and getting them published on ezine or pulse(LinkedIn) and on other Social media. Fancy self-publishing.
  • You can also look out for meetings and conferences where you can give your valuable insights and presentations.
  • Spotlight an awards and other credits that can establish you as an expert.
  • Consider a professional Website or a blog where you can post and publish your articles and blogs to highlight and gain social brand.

Build Network Or Connections

Though there are many ways of connecting tools like social media connections and networking through other means, nothing is more powerful in marketing yourself than a word-of-mouth, which is what people say of define about you when speaking to others.

Hence it is very important to build your career brand with your network of contacts apart from social networking. 

I have written an article on how you can build your brand through social networking previously which you can go through on this blog site. But as mentioned your friends, colleagues, clients, and managers form your core advocates and what they say about you and your skill sets and achievement reach far better than anything else. 

There is a saying, "Keep your friends close and enemies much closer." Your brand value should be strong that even your enemies envy and talk good about you. And always love your enemies and give them an extra reason to hate you in terms of work you are accomplishing. And keep continuous focus and engage with your network involving yourselves in relationship building, at least to a level where it is no more required. Keep in touch with your contact make sure they know your most recent successes through social media or Messenger apps.

But the best of brand developers don’t stop just with their present network; these people are on constant lookout for more network-building opportunities. Search out for new professional groups as there is an increasing number of online networking communities.

Final Thoughts:

Once you recognize and develop your brand, remember to maintain and continue establishing and staying on top to protect it. As a quote reads, "Success is easy to attain but difficult to maintain" There will always be competing job-seekers ready to take your position and leave your behind. You are in fact originator and CEO of Me, Inc., and the more you do to enhance your personal and career brand, the more successful you’ll be with your present employer and always ahead in the job-search.

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