How to Define Your Unique Personal Brand . . . and Make It Memorable
In Part 1 of this series, I covered:
- Personal Branding Hype and Myths vs. Reality
- What Personal Branding Really Is
- How Authentic Branding Makes You Stand Out
- How Differentiation Wins Out Over Sameness
Now that you know what branding truly is, here’s how to define your own brand and make it memorable.
Job seekers who take the time to reflect and dig deep will have the tools to excel beyond their competitors. The 10 steps below are similar to those in the personal branding worksheet I provide to my clients to help them uncover what makes them unique and valuable:
1. Targeting and Company/Industry Research
Know your target audience so you’ll know what makes you a good fit for them. Determine what kind of work you want to do (type of position and industry), and which companies and organizations will afford you the opportunity to work your passion. Determine what hiring decision makers in that field are looking for when they’re assessing candidates.
Research your target list of companies to identify their current pressing needs and challenges, and how you’re uniquely qualified to help them.
Create your personal brand messaging using relevant keywords and phrases, and value-driven content that will attract them. Find out where those decision makers hang out, position yourself in front of them to capture their attention, and stay top-of-mind with them.
Everything stems from this initial targeting work. As you complete the rest of these exercises, always keep your target employers in mind, determining the skill sets, personal qualities and other qualifications you have, that align with what those employers will be looking for.
This will help lead you towards employers who are a mutual good fit. That is, those who will benefit the most from your expertise, while bringing you career fulfillment.
2. Passions and Values
Think about the activities, interests or conversational topics that most excite you and make you feel energized. Your passions are the things you can’t wait to do and are probably where your talents lie. How do your passions converge with what you are best at doing?
It’s important for your professional life to be in sync with your personal values, or guiding principles. By determining your top values, you’ll be better equipped to choose employers whose values match yours. Values are things like:
Agility, balance, challenge, commitment, diligence, discipline, diversity, excitement, fun, honesty, integrity, leadership, making a difference, optimism, philanthropy, prosperity, respect, structure, teamwork, truth, wealth
What words do you use to define your personality? Which personality traits define how you operate and make things happen?
Identify 3 or 4 adjectives (or personal attributes) that best describe the value you offer. Once you pinpoint what you feel are the right kinds of words, it’s a good idea to consult a thesaurus to nail the exact words. Personal attributes are things like:
Collaborative, competitive, flexible, persuasive, reliable, visionary, calm, diplomatic, energetic, patient, intuitive, open-minded, precise, risk-taking, accessible, supportive, bold, enterprising, entrepreneurial, genuine, humorous, imaginative
What are your 3 or 4 greatest strengths or top motivated skills (things you love doing) that have benefitted your companies/employers? Asking yourself these questions will help:
- In what functions and responsibilities do I excel?
- What gap would my company be faced with, if I left suddenly?
- For what things am I the designated “go-to” person?
Having a hard time identifying your motivated skills and areas of expertise? Try developing Challenge – Action(s) – Result(s) or CARs stories, and follow my suggestions to tell your brand story.
Find out how you’re perceived by the external world – the true measure of your personal brand.
Get feedback from those who know you best – at work, at home, anywhere. Talk to people you work closely with – peers, management, staff, employees, clients, mentors, etc. They will confirm or make you question your own assessment of your value to your target employers.
Notice how they introduce you to others. Ask them what your top brand attributes and core strengths are. How does your self-assessment jibe with their feedback?
Look beyond yourself to your competition in the marketplace and what differentiates you from them. Research them as well as you can. Search your job title on LinkedIn to find others who do the same kind of work. What do those people have to offer? What is it about you that makes you the best hiring choice? What added value do you bring to the table that they don’t?
Don’t be fake. Don’t make claims about yourself that you can’t back up. Be genuine. Define who you are now and what you offer now – not who you want to be or the kind of person you want to be thought of.
Do a SWOT analysis (Strengths – Weaknesses – Opportunities – Threats) to keep yourself on an authentic and realistic path.
- Strengths – This exercise is covered in #3 above.
- Weaknesses – What could you improve? What do you do badly? What should you avoid?
- Opportunities – What positive opportunities are in front of you? What interesting trends are emerging?
- Threats – What obstacles do you face that may threaten your job search? Is your knowledge of products or services for your new job lacking in any important way? Does changing technology or emerging trends pose a threat? Do you have any financial issues that could impact your search?
6. Unique Value Proposition
Now that you have the critical components in place, differentiate exactly what makes you unique and valuable to your target employers. What qualifications, skills and areas of expertise set you apart from others competing for the same kinds of jobs? What combination of things do you have to offer that no one else does?
Quantify – or better yet, monetize – your ROI (Return on Investment). What makes you worth the high cost of hiring? What makes you the best hiring choice?
Get “personal” with personal branding. Give a feel for the kind of person you are and how you used your top personal attributes to make things happen for your employers.
You’re unique. Make your brand messaging reflect that. Translate the passions you have into content with personality. Don’t be afraid to pack a punch. Generate excitement around who you are, what you’re like to work with and how you make things happen.
8. Precision and Clarity
Work on tight writing for your personal marketing documents (resume, biography, etc.) and online profiles (LinkedIn and others), along with to-the-point verbal communications. Don’t bore people with superfluous and irrelevant content. Keep the content interesting, encouraging people to want to know more about you.
Clearly communicate your value and good fit qualities when networking and interviewing, helping people assessing you see that you possess the good-fit qualities required. Know exactly how to present yourself when you network, so that people will know how to help you reach your career goals.
Keep focused. Consistently express the same personal brand message, designed to resonate with target employers, across all communications channels – online and offline.
Memorable brands stay visible to their network and target employers. Proactively stay top of mind with them through social media, real-life networking, and all other personal marketing efforts.
Position yourself on LinkedIn and other social media, and relevant websites and blogs. Develop a realistic online brand communications plan and stick to it.
How to Pull All the Personal Brand Pieces Together
To get a sense of how and why doing the initial personal branding work is paramount, take a look at this career brand biography I wrote for a senior-level executive client. This particular client was not in a confidential job search, so he didn’t ask that his identifying information be fictionalized.
A biography is one of the best ways to tell your personal brand story. Parts of your bio can be used in the Summary section of your LinkedIn profile, to generate chemistry.
[Please note: The content for this (and all client documents) was written to reflect their specific personal brand and ROI. “Borrowing” any of this content would be plagiarism. Don’t be a personal brand copycat.]
Weaving the personal branding pieces together, you will be armed with all you need to build interesting and compelling personal marketing materials that differentiate you, generate chemistry and position you as a good-fit candidate for the companies and organizations you’re targeting.
By helping you stand out, personal branding can be the deciding factor in landing you a plum job with coveted employers.
Coming up in Part 3, Mind Your Online Reputation: The Personal Branding Social Proof Paradigm
Executive Job Search and Personal Branding Help
Need help with personal branding, your LinkedIn profile, resume and biography, and getting your executive job search on track . . . to land a great-fit new gig?