You may have heard about branding yourself and wondered what it has to do with you; after all, you’re a person, not a product. That’s where you’re wrong!
Whether you’re looking for a new job or seeking a promotion—or even wanting to be well regarded at work, branding yourself is essential. Your brand is what makes you stand out from everyone else. What is branding? Branding is about how others see you and how you see yourself. Obviously, you’ll want to control the narrative as much as possible.
How can you go about establishing your brand? Recognize that branding yourself is about understanding yourself, how you are known to others (basically your reputation), and how want to be known. It needs to be authentic to you. It is both your real self and your online self—and those need to match.
Here’s how to get started on identifying and creating your brand:
1. Think about what makes you unique. Where did you grow up? What are your special talents and skills? What do people say about you? What are you known for? What do you care about? Write these things down. This is part of understanding who you are.
2. What does your current employer want / need? What about prospective employers? When employers are considering you for promotion or hiring, they want to know what you offer—in the context of what they need. Is there a match between who you are and what your current / future employers are looking for?
3. Create your value proposition. Sum up your brand in one sentence. It should be easy to say, understand, and remember. This will be the essence of your resume, your LinkedIn, and your answer to “tell me about yourself.” This will not be identical across all platforms but it should be consistent.
4. Communicate your brand and value. How do you communicate to your current and future employers? The obvious ways include your daily interactions, your resume, and your LinkedIn presence. All of these should be consistent and communicate the same message. Almost all employers (and yes, even government employers) will do an online search of applicants. What is your online presence? Does it match what your resume says about you? How you behave on a daily basis? If not, you have work to do. Your message needs to be consistent across the board.
5. Reinforce your brand. It’s not enough to put a brand out there. You have to reinforce it. If you say you’re an expert, prove it. Post articles about your expertise. Comment (appropriately) on others’ posts. Be yourself. And keep it up; you do not want to be static; this is not a “one and done;” you want to manage your brand so that it stays fresh and current.
Creating and maintaining your brand takes time and effort. But taking the time to do it right is time well spent. After all, your brand is yours alone and your career is worth it!