Today brands are everywhere, from cars to cans of cola to smartphones to the label on your clothes. Teams of people spent hours (or even months) deciding how to position their products, and they invested quite a bit of money in order to create the best image possible. Businesses know the importance of branding their business, but have you thought about branding yourself? Whether or not you realize it, you have a personal brand, and it affects your career opportunities.
In 2013, developing your own personal brand is the name of the game in business. It’s not just about what your company can do for its clients; it’s about what you can do for your company or a prospective employer. Building a personal brand can make a big difference in how companies view you as an employee.
In today’s competitive job market, it’s hard to imagine how to differentiate yourself from everyone else. Christine Clifford, Certified Speaking Professional and author of “You, Inc.: The Art of Selling Yourself,” suggests asking yourself the following questions to discover your own personal brand:
1. WHO ARE YOU?
“Your brand is the truth about you, well told,” she shares, adding that each of us is a storyteller with unique stories that tell who we are. “The first step in marketing your personal brand is to discover your stories and tell them well.”
2. WHAT DO YOU DO?
“You must answer simply, otherwise you will confuse the other person,” Clifford says. Here, the trick is quality over quantity. “If it sounds like you do too many things, or too many seemingly unrelated things, the person will assume you cannot do any of them well.”
3. WHAT IS YOUR SPECIALTY?
Rather than being a jack of all trades, become a master of one. “People trust specialists,” she advises. “Find a niche.”
4. WHAT DIFFERENCE DO YOU MAKE?
When you have a concrete understanding of why you are essential to effectively carrying out a task and bringing in results, it is easier for you to convince others of it. Better yet, they are more likely to pick it up from you through inference.
“Marketers often refer to the necessity of defining one’s ‘point of difference.’ This is significant,” Clifford says. “You must not merely answer what makes you different, but how what you do makes a difference for others.”
5. ARE YOU ENVIABLE?
Keep in mind that to stay employed you need to be wanted by your company or clients. Envy, despite its stigma, is a form of want. Those described as enviable by one party might be called highly desired by another.
“Part of the genius of Southwest Airlines,” Clifford says, “was that their leader for many years, Herb Kelleher, constantly asked his employees, ‘Are we a company that our competitors envy? If not, why not?’ Apply that to whatever you are selling or marketing and then apply that to you. If you’re not enviable, ask yourself, ‘What can I do to change that?’”
6. WHAT IS YOUR PROFESSIONAL STEREOTYPE?
“Accountants are stuffy. Lawyers are arrogant. Engineers are analytical. Our minds paint a quick picture that obscures our view of the unique person,” Clifford explains. “Write down the typical characteristics of your industry’s stereotype and then do something different. If you’re an attorney, wear a bright green bow tie and green suspenders. If you’re a librarian, wear a feather boa to work. Shake up your stereotype.” Knowing how people outside your industry label or perceive people in your line of work can be very helpful in your efforts to distinguish yourself. “Every industry has one, and the people in that industry are stereotyped, too,” she says.