“Personal branding is the practice of people marketing themselves and their careers as brands — the ongoing process of establishing a prescribed image or impression in the mind of others about an individual.” — Matt Sweetwood.
The world sees you the way you appear to them. If you present a shabby and cluttered image of yourself, the world will see and behave with you in a manner that wouldn’t be complimentary. Here, we are not talking about just physical. On the other hand, if you are seen as a polished, authoritative and interesting personality, many doors and opportunities for success, opens up.
For quite some time, we only knew product and service branding, or that we had to create branding and visibility for only products and services. Sometimes, the brand would be the company itself. Now the scenario has changed. People have started becoming aware of the need to stand out, to build one’s personal image, to be more recognized, the way they want to be recognized. If they don’t work on building their personal brand, others will do it for them, in a way they might not like at all.
What is Personal Branding?
The definition of a ‘Brand’ is something that differentiates the product, service, company or person from others. A brand can be represented by a name, an image, an idea or a particular offering or approach. To create a strong personal brand, it is first important to understand the approach towards creating a brand. These few questions will give you the answers to start taking those steps, to building your personal brand image.
What is your Unique Selling Point or Unique Buying Quotient?
What do others see when they look at you or interact with you?
What are your strengths?
How will you make others notice you?
What does your reputation speak about you?
Building an efficient personal image is not just a day’s work. You have to approach it in a professional manner, investing your time and efforts to get the result you want to achieve. It is important to position yourself in the right place, in the right manner, because once an impression is formed, it will be very difficult to erase it, especially if it is a bad first impression. Hence, we must very cautiously and smartly approach this process. Also, building and maintaining a personal image is not a one time work. On the contrary, it is an ongoing process that takes dedication and commitment to build up, step by step. Creating a personal brand can open many doors to great opportunities. It will help you in the following ways and more.
You get noticed
You create your own niche
Your expertise becomes well known
You make new contacts
You stand out from your competitors
Doors to various opportunities open up
You build credibility as a person one can trust
You win loyalty
Building a strong and efficient personal brand image
We have understood the importance of having a strong and credible brand image. Now to understand how to make this happen, some quick essential tips to guide you through the process.
Create your Niche - Identify your offerings and industry Your personal brand is a reflection of where you want to be, today and the future. Finding your niche will provide you the roadmap of where to go from here. Determine what you want to be known for. Choose your particular niche within an industry you are familiar with. Find out in which areas of work you excel. Find out what motivates you. Do not clutter yourself trying to do and learn everything. This will only make you a jack of all trades but master of none. The industry does not trust or find people who are all over the place, credible. Assess you strengths and weakness and gain knowledge in the area of your interest. Doing this homework will help you uncover skills and traits that make you distinct and pave the way into whichever industry or career you want to excel in.
Be an expert in your industry - Understand your industry inside and out Gain as much knowledge about the industry or career you have chosen. Stay up to date on the latest news, changing trends, and the competition analysis. Being an expert means having the skills, knowledge, and experience in your field. Meet relevant people, attend industry gatherings and events, follow trends on social media and practice the knowledge you have gained from all these. When you have this, it helps to position yourself as a thought leader in your industry, elevating your personal brand to a higher level.
Define your Audience You cannot create a brand if you don’t know which audience to target. Your offerings are not meant for everyone. There is a particular set of people or target audience you are trying to reach. Define this audience. Are you trying to reach a certain set of Individuals? Or an Industry or a Company? The sooner you get your audience defined, the easier and faster it is for you to start your branding process. This is an important aspect in the process of personal branding, because your offerings have to reach the right audience and not get side tracked. Only once your audience is defined can the process to tell them your story, the platform you choose to reach them, be defined.
Be Visible, Be Accessible Silence silences you. In industry language, what is seen, sells. What isn’t dies an incognito death. Do not be silent about what you do. Establish your presence both online and offline. Get going and make yourself visible and accessible. Your niche is your expertise. Share your knowledge and offer your expertise to your audience. Tell others what you know and what you are good at. Go all out but in a credible manner. Interact with people, online and offline. You can establish yourself as an expert in your domain only by sharing your knowledge with others. The more visible and accessible you make yourself; your personal brand becomes that much stronger.
Develop a Strong Value Proposition Developing a strong brand value proposition will make you exceptionally useful and valuable. How can you do it? Your brand is valuable if it answers the following questions: - As a brand, what is it that you can and would like to offer your audience that is different from others? - Why should they take it from you? - How will it address their needs and help them solve their current problems? - How are you different from your competitors? - Why should you be trusted? - What are you doing to build credibility for your brand? Generate answers to all these questions and make these answers visible. This will help your (potential) audience choose you over your competitors.
Use your Social Accounts to increase Trust Traditional branding has its own importance and necessity. A one to one meeting with Industry audience or word of mouth testimonial of your capabilities can create a lasting impression, than any online strategies. But one cannot ignore the effect and importance of social medium. Social media channels are a global platform. The reach and opportunities are tremendous. Establish your presence on every account and make social media speak for you. Increase people’s trust and engagement by connecting with people and having conversations with them and encouraging feedback. Talk to them about your experiences. A word of caution – do not get too personal with potential prospects. You could lose credibility as a professional. Keep it professional. Soon you will see you have a number of followers and an audience who has enough trust in you.
To sum it up, personal branding refers to all the activities that are aimed at creating a lasting impression of you in the eyes of others and making you different from your competition. Go find your niche and understand your place in it. This will make it easier for you to meet your target audience. These are the people you want to appeal to, to interact with. You are creating your personal brand for these people; to make yourself and your expertise useful and valuable to them.
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