An Introduction to Building Your Personal Brand

Published Sunday, April 18, 2010 12:36 PM

We are CEOs of our own companies: Me Inc. To be in business today, our most important job is to be head marketer for the brand called You.

This is the "simple" and "inescapable" truth that business management expert Tom Peters illuminated in his 1997 Fast Company article, The Brand Called You.

As Peters observed, we have changed the way we work. For most of us, normal business life consists of regularly switching jobs and occasionally shifting careers. One constant in this steady stream of change is our personal brand - the unique constellation of skills, interests, traits, passions and perspectives that we bring to our work.

According to Dan Schawbel, author of Me 2.0: Build a Powerful Brand to Achieve Career Success, personal branding is an ongoing "process by which we market ourselves to others." It is also a constant process of learning how others perceive us. You know you are doing a good job of branding yourself, Schawbel says, "when self-impression is equal to perception (how you describe yourself is how other people describe you)."


The personal branding process starts with a good bit of candid self-scrutiny. Being as clear and specific as possible, you should identify:


  • Who you are - What do you consider your greatest personal and interpersonal strengths? What are your most notable personality traits?
  • What you do - What are your greatest professional interests and passions? What do you offer through your work that is remarkable and has measurable and distinctive value? What are you most marketable skills? What are you most proud of in your professional life?
  • Who you help - Who benefits from your work? How and why do you help these people? How do they benefit from working with you (as opposed to someone else)? What would they identify as your greatest attributes?


After completing this brand discovery exercise, you can start building and promoting your personal brand. Dan Schawbel offers these five essential steps:


1.     Claim your Google profile 

2.     Reserve your name on social networks like LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter as well as other social sites through or

3.     Establish an online hub, such as a blog, where people can go to learn about you and what you do (stock the site with useful and relevant content, including articles you wrote, recent press mentions, video tutorials and endorsements from clients or managers)

4.     Participate in relevant conversations online (by writing helpful blog posts, commenting on other people's blogs and engaging your community via conversations on social networks) and offline (by attending industry events, writing articles for trade publications and holding seminars and workshops)

5.     Develop a reputation management strategy to monitor and respond to what people are saying about you and your brand (two helpful monitoring tools are Google Alerts and Twitter Search)


This last step should not be overlooked. As marketing expert Seth Godin remarks about life online: "Everything you do now ends up in your permanent record. The best plan is to overload Google with a long tail of good stuff and to always act as if you're on Candid Camera, because you are."


Just as personal branding is an ongoing process, we consider this an ongoing dialogue on a very important topic. We welcome your comments, questions and experience shares about personal branding and look forward to continuing the conversation here and throughout the Beyond Folders Community.


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