Am I a Brand or Am I a Brand?
Well, Friends, as of today, EACH one of You regardless of the Industry you are into, YOU are a BRAND. You might not be aware of it, or might not want to acknowledge it, or yet haven’t realized the importance of your Personal Brand in this cluttered Industry. But, Believe You, Me; fast approaches a time, when every professional in every industry will be evaluated on the basis of his Personal Brand Worth.
Often the next question is "To Brand ME or not To Brand ME?" And if your answer is YES; the next endless list of questions follow suit:
a) How to brand myself?
b) What am I suppose to brand?
c) Where am I suppose to brand?
d) How to express my brand? or
e) The most common question: WHY am I suppose to brand myself?
For now, we are going to focus on HOW TO brand yourself, starting with the most visible and credible place on the social media–Linkedin.
I personally believe that Linkedin has been a much worthy of an innovation vis-a-vis Facebook. Not that I love Facebook any less than Linkedin; but for the ruling corporate citizens of today, Linkedin has been the biggest boon since maybe the Wheel! (alright, I might have exaggerated a bit, for the dramatic effect!)
So let’s enumerate the answers to these questions:
1. HOW to Brand Yourself:
Discover your Unique Brand Value Proposition, that differentiates you from the herd, and Voice it: meaning Express it. The more dedicated protocol is to Discover & Conceive your Personal Brand, under the aegis of a Personal Brand Strategist; who will empower you to Discover Your Personal Brand and Communicate it effectively to your target audience.
But nonetheless, if you are confident of your distinguishing personal brand proposition and can express it without professional guidance, explore your personal brand, yourself. You can also discover the Values of your Personal Brand in 5 Simple Steps to start your journey of Personal Branding.
2. WHAT To Brand About Yourself:
We just answered it- Your Brand Value Proposition; but not in its raw, in your face kind of positioning, but a more strategically crafted positioning that expresses your unique promise of value. For example, if you are an honest to the core, independent stock broker who uses this factor to differentiate himself from the galaxy of opportunists; instead of saying that you are ‘the honest, sincere and true to your client broker’ you may want to position yourself like this: “The noble broker who cares more than he craves!” Or for example, if you are an adventurous IT professional who explores every challenge like an adventure, and emerges as a more wise & enriched being; instead of simply saying, ‘I am an adventure loving IT Professional’ you can position yourself more impressively as follows: “An Adventurous IT PRO who loves challenging challenges.”
And yes, if you are now thinking that ‘This is absolutely absurd or unconventional or radically different’, DON’T be afraid to be different; As William Arruda sums it brilliantly: "What makes you different, makes you successful!"
3. WHERE to Focus:
At least in your linked in profile, every possible window of opportunity. Your headline, your summary and your work experience. Weave an impressive and a credible story line that expresses how you have enriched your employers/clients etc and most importantly yourself, and come to become what you are today.
4. HOW to Communicate Your Brand:
DO NOT reiterate your brand message; meaning, do not repeat it blatantly. Use the power of the aforementioned 3 windows of opportunity-Headline, Summary and Experience-to present a different dimension of your brand to your audience. You can
a) Brand Your URL: By default, LinkedIn gives your profile a non-descript URL with a bunch of numbers and letters. But, You can BRAND Your URL by choosing a custom URL for your public profile. HOW: To change your URL, go to your edit profile page and scroll to the "Public Profile" section. Click "Edit" next to the URL to choose a new one. For eg: You can use your name(if available) to get a Self Branded URL like this:
b) Use the headline to declare your BRAND STAND- your unique positioning (as exemplified above);
c) Express your BRAND VALUE- your unique value of professional promise or your brand proposition with a hint of personal touch in your brand summary;
d) Engage your audience with an impressive account of your BRAND STORY- your brand’s achievements through your chronological work experience exhibit.
e) Request for Recommendations from the Key Influencers of your Industry; as this is the best way of showing the world, what people really think about your Brand.
f) Enrich your community with regular updates from your Blog (GET one if you don’t have one yet!); as this builds a favorable image as a thought leader and boosts your career karma as well!
And coming to the last question; WHY do I need to Brand myself-well, that’s a whole new post coming up for you, soon.
In the meanwhile, BRAND YOURSELF on Linkedin Today, before someone else Brands You: Insignificant