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Do You Have A Personal Brand?

Personal branding tips from PR pros

personal brandDo you think of yourself as a product? You should. Today success is all about personal branding.

And who knows more about building a brand than PR pros? Luckily, you don’t have to hire a public relations firm to get personal branding advice. We asked them for you.

First we asked for a few suggestions on how women can create a personal brand when they’re looking for a new job and second, when they’re trying to get promoted. Finally we asked them for one idea that every woman can use.

Several PR pros stepped up, generously sharing their expertise on personal branding. Here are their responses.

Kat Gordon, Creative Director, Maternal Instinct

Suggestions for women who are looking for a new job

Build or expand your digital footprint. Google your own name. If nothing comes up, get cracking. Find places to write/comment/speak/share whatever it is you know most about. Use the Questions feature in LinkedIn to answer queries others have posted within your area of expertise. If you don’t have a website link to add to your online submissions, at least buy the URL for your own name and post your resume there.

On being promoted

Write a positioning statement for yourself. Pretend you are a product, because you are, and you are competing in a marketplace far more crowded and cut-throat than even a supermarket shelf. Detail what single thing sets you apart from others and back it up with three proof points. Write it for the job you want, not the one you have now. Print out three copies and laminate them. Tape one on your bathroom mirror, tuck one in your car’s visor, and put the last copy in your most frequently used desk drawer at work. Read it, rehearse it, believe it, embody it.

The one tip I would give every woman

Women downplay their abilities. Whether it’s nature or nurture, it’s proven that women are far less likely than men to sing their own praises and take their fair share of the spotlight. Developing a personal brand is like having a PR firm working for you, consisting of everyone you come in contact with. Make the same strong impression over and over and people will remember you, recommend you, and promote you.

Astrid Sheil, Associate Chair of Communication Studies, California State University, San Bernardino

Suggestions for women who are looking for a new job

When you’re looking for a job remember: There are three things that all employers want:

  1. They want to increase their revenue and/or market share
  2. They want to reduce the costs associated with gaining more business
  3. They want to reduce the risks associated with gaining more business

A woman who is applying for a job needs to understand that it’s all about increasing market share and reducing costs and risks. All applicants should frame their answers to reflect how they would achieve these three goals.

On being promoted

First, before you can get ahead you must be firmly situated in your current job. You have to be successful in the position you have before anyone will promote you to another job. Second, it is generally easier for a manager to hire a new person rather than promote a person in-house. Why? Because if the manager promotes a person, then he is training two people at the same time–the person promoted (you) and the person who is now replacing you. The key is to make the manager’s job easy. You want a new position in the company? Then train your replacement. Find someone who wants your job and train them on your own time for a month. As long as there is someone who is trained and ready to go in your position on day one, a manager will be more inclined to promote you to the new position.

In terms of branding…pick a few attributes that you would like to be known for: capable/great attitude/superior results. Then, at every staff meeting, demonstrate those attributes by contributing ideas, offering to help others, and following through on assignments. When you see yourself as capable with a great attitude and an ability to produce superior results–others will see it, too… but it doesn’t hurt to remind them, as well!

The one tip I would give every woman

Whether it’s a brand for a product, or a brand for yourself, a brand is the thing that helps people remember you and your attributes. For example, if someone says, “Just do it!” you immediately know they are talking about Nike®. By establishing a track record of competence on the job and reinforcing that idea in staff meetings and with your immediate superiors, you will be the person they think of when the company has landed an important project.

The one thing I would recommend to any woman: don’t be afraid to step out of your comfort zone. You can do more than you think you can do and you are worth more than you think you are–always negotiate for what you want and need before you accept a job.

Lisa Orrell, Branding Expert, Marketing Maven & Success Coach, The Promote U Guru

Suggestions for women who are looking for a new job

When I conduct Personal Branding workshops for corporate professionals, or work with them one-on-one, I emphasize that this is all about “knowing yourself”. Before you can create your Personal Brand Platform, you have to focus on things like: What are your personal strengths? Weaknesses? What do you stand for? How do you want to be known? Does the employer’s values and culture match yours?

And when seeking a new job, knowing the answers to these questions, and having a clarified Personal Brand Platform, is critical for not only developing a strong resume and having a successful interview, but also for finding the “right” company that fits with your brand.

Building a personal brand on the job

Any successful executive will tell you that determining, and managing, their Personal Brand has been a key factor to their success. And I’ve been a guest on many panels discussing this topic, with senior corporate execs, and they all agree it is critical…so it’s not just my opinion. When working with corporate professionals, I provide specific exercises to help them develop their personal brand. Here are a few examples

  • List your Core Values and Value Add (what makes you different)
  • Determine your Brand Personality (how you want to be known…think of well-known Personal Brands like Donald Trump, Steve Jobs, Ellen DeGeneres, etc. to understand this concept)
  • Write your own Positioning Statement…who you are, what you offer, and how you benefit those who work with you.
  • Live your brand every day, through everything you say and do.

The one tip I would give every woman

My main recommendation is determine your personal brand! I don’t care how you go about learning how to do it, or getting it done, do it! This is not “fluff”; it’s about YOU and it’s necessary for career success. Defining your brand becomes your “compass”, and everything you say and do, and don’t say and do, will map to it…and everything you say and do will either strengthen your personal brand, OR dilute it.

Ashley McCown, Co-Founder and President, Solomon McCown & CompanyA Boston-based public relations firm

Suggestions for women who are looking for a new job

At the end of the day, people hire people—so your personal brand is your greatest asset, whether you’re a woman or a man. Your brand isn’t about your qualifications or experience or gender; it’s the flavor, feelings and impression that you make when you walk into the room and leave behind after walking out. Your brand is what we remember you by. Make sure it’s strong, distinctive and remarkable. In today’s economy, we see dozens of qualified candidates applying for the same job, so you need to stand out.

To achieve this, you need to know what your “thing” is. What is it that you are most passionate about? What is your expertise? What unique perspective do you offer? Answering these questions will help identify the essence of your brand. Then you have to promote it by actively creating content—blog posts, articles, tweets—that demonstrates your knowledge and drive.

In terms of tools, LinkedIn has clearly emerged as the strongest outlet for personal branding and job searching. As a woman aspiring to build her brand, you can find a variety of opportunities on LinkedIn, from expanding your professional network to showing off your latest and greatest ideas.

Building a personal brand on the job

Specialize and stay flexible. It may seem like a contradiction, but both skills are essential in growing within an organization. First, depth of knowledge in a particular field positions you as a resource for management and an asset to the organization. It also gives you an advantage over your colleagues, who most likely have developed skills across many areas without any particular specialization. And, of course, it creates the foundation for your brand.

Secondly, all organizations want to see the ability to adapt quickly to any situation. If you’re nimble, you’ll fight to achieve your—and the company’s—goals. Of course that’s attractive.

The one tip I would give every woman

These days everyone is a media maker. Everyone produces content. What are you creating, and how does it reflect who you are and what you have to offer? If you can build a personal brand than clearly presents your strengths and distinguishes you in the crowd, then you’re in a better position for advancement.

For women specifically, don’t be afraid to take charge and show the world what you’ve got. As women we have many advantages over our male counterparts; it’s time we become a bit more aggressive in promoting our skills, knowledge and style—in short, advertise your brand. Don’t ask for permission. Just do it.

Caroline Callaway, President, Bolt Public Relations, LLC

Suggestions for women who are looking for a new job

Define your ideal position. You’ll want to be as specific as possible when sharing with people what you’re looking to do and the kind of company you’re looking to work for. Even better if you can name a specific company you’d like to work for and the exact position you’re interested in obtaining.

Leverage your connections. Talk to family, neighbors and friends about the opportunities you’re seeking.

Tap into every available channel to connect and reconnect with people. This includes Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn, as well as networking groups.

Customize your resume and cover letter. Do not send a template resume. Sell a company on why you want to work there and why you’re the best hire for the position it’s hiring. Research the company, pay attention to keywords in the job description and don’t just tell, but demonstrate, how you are qualified for the position by noting achievements and results.

Building a personal brand on the job

Focus on customer service. Internal and external contacts will always notice when a person is reliable, communicative and always delivers what’s promised. These people will later serve as references and referral sources for you as you move forward in your career.

Identify ways to better the company, even if it means going beyond your job description. Don’t get trapped in semantics, titles or specific duties. Always be willing to go above and beyond to demonstrate your commitment and loyalty to the company.

Bring energy and enthusiasm. So few people are satisfied with their jobs and carry their negative and/or nonchalant attitudes to work. Stand out by being positive and enthusiastic about your work and what you’re able to offer.

The one tip I would give every woman

A personal brand is important because your brand defines your value, whether to your current employer or to prospective employers. Employers want to retain influential employees with a powerful personal brand, just as prospective employers want to hire personnel with established connections.

Define your brand. Write it out. Know who you want to be and how you want to be perceived and this will guide you in all of your efforts on social media, in communicating with others, and in finding the right position for you.

About Annette Richmond, MA

Annette Richmond, MA, CARW, CCELW, is a Certified Resume Writer, Certified LinkedIn Profile Writer, and former recruiter. Her career advice has been featured by Huffington Post, The Chicago Tribune, Forbes, Business Insider, Monster, Vault, and WSJ. She helps motivated, senior level professionals tell their unique career story. She also serves as executive editor of career-intelligence.com.


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