Posted by: kevinliebl | August 22, 2009

Building your Personal Brand

Personal BrandThe past couple of weeks I have written about how corporate roles have changed and how we all must prepare ourselves for this new corporate world. Today, I want to discuss the topic of personal branding. With respect to the job market and your career, personal branding is a means of defining and promoting your skills, strengths and interests in an effort to raise yourself above the white noise.

Define your Objective – Before you do anything, sit down and determine what you are trying to accomplish. People create a personal brand for many reasons, but in this case, let’s assume you are trying to create a professional brand that will establish you as a leader in your chosen field. This seems simple, but remember that people are successful if they have both the ability and the passion to succeed. Make sure that the brand you want to promote is both of these. Be as specific as possible (e.g., public relations manager for small to medium sized technology firms). Think about what defines you and separates you from the pack. How do you want people to see you?

Discover your Current Brand – Next you need to understand what brand you have today. Remember that everyone has a brand. If you ask your colleagues to describe you, what would they say? I firmly believe that none of us “own” our own brand. The market owns the brand. The market determines what our brand is. I can say that my brand is that of a “Business Management, Marketing, Leadership and Social Media Expert”. The truth is that you, the reader of this blog will decide what my brand is after you read this (and hopefully other ) articles. All I can do is promote, and hopefully influence, your perception of my brand.

Define your Messaging – Once you know what your current brand is (e.g., mid-level marketing manager) and what you want it to be (e.g., social media expert), then you can begin to define your messaging. What will you do to change the market perception of you from your “current” to your “target” brand? What will you communicate to the marketplace to define your brand? Will you promote your skills in a specific area? Will you give examples of your knowledge? Will you position yourself as a resource to others?

Choose your Tools – There are an overwhelming number of tools at your disposal to begin to brand yourself. My advice is to choose carefully because each tool has a unique value. Talk to others who have used them and determine what value they provide and how much effort is necessary. Remember that some of them can be a huge resource drain. In my opinion, some of the best tools for building a personal business brand are as follows:

Social Media

  • LinkedIn – This is the single best tool at your disposal to define your business brand. Fully build your profile and keep it current.
  • Facebook – Determine quickly if you are going to separate your business brand from your personal brand. If you don’t want business associates seeing your college photos in Mexico, then secure your Facebook page or keep it professional.
  • Twitter – The power of Twitter is only beginning to be defined. Create a Twitter feed and use it to define your brand and cross-link back to your other online sites.
  • Blog – Your blog becomes your online profile. Make sure you cross-link between your blog, LinkedIn, Twitter, and other online sites.
  • VisualCV – This is a powerful tool to create an online resume, separate from your LinkedIn profile.
  • Email Signature – This is often overlooked. Create an email signature with hyperlinks to your LinkedIn profile, Twitter feed, VisualCV, and blog.

Physical

  • Resume, Biography, Transition document – These are all useful documents for different audiences. The transition document should be a single page targeted at people you will network with who may be able to help your career.
  • Business Cards – Create a separate business card from your full-time job that defines your brand. Include all your social media contacts (e.g., LinkedIn, Twitter, Blog, etc.)

Face-To-Face

  • Never forget the importance of face-to-face communications. We sell ourselves best in person, not online or on the phone. Make sure that you attend networking events, find opportunities to speak on panels, and simply meet with colleagues 1-on-1 from time to time.

Implement your Plan – Now that you have defined your objective, messaging and tools, it is time to implement. My advice is to set realistic goals for yourself. It is easy to get overwhelmed. Start simple and build from there. Once you begin, listen to the feedback. Is your LinkedIn profile getting traffic? Are your blog postings resonating and getting comments? Learn from the feedback – both positive and negative. Create a two-way dialog with your target audience. Make sure you respond to people who take the time to comment on your blog. Always be sincere and helpful. You will make mistakes, but if you are sincere and helpful to your network, you should be fine. Finally, be consistent. The effort you put into building a brand will fade quickly if you do not continue the effort. By setting realistic goals, you should be able to continue your branding effort regardless of your workload. It simply becomes a part of your normal career.

Remember, your network and your personal brand are the two things you carry with you from job to job. With a little planning and effort, they will pay huge dividends. Good luck, and let me know how I can help…

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Responses

  1. Kevin, great article about personal branding. I like how you touched on the general concept, then talked about social media and finished with a plan.

  2. This is a great article. There are aspects of personal branding which can also be incorporated into small business branding (SMB Marketing being my forte). Thank you for the enlightenment.

  3. Kevin:

    Congratulations, you have captured and outlined all the ingredients for a successful personal brand.

    I look forward to further well thought out and articulate blogs.

  4. Great stuff! if you want to develop a good brand in any market, start by adding value. You can contribute through associations, special interest groups, speaking, writing – lots of things.

    Great example on LinkedIn, too, Kevin. My profile there is the most thorough bio of me anywhere. You can join groups on LI and participate in the discussions, use the Q&A, use some of the new applications (list your current and recent reading, put up a powerpoint, etc).

    Good stuff!

  5. Kevin,

    Thank you for this thoughtful, strategic approach to personal branding. Most people head straight for the tactics, but the greatest success comes from strategy.

  6. Hey Kevin,

    I really enjoyed this article. Keep up the good work. I would like to add one thing: Frequency. Promotion is great but without constant updates your brand will quickly fall away.

  7. kevin

    I enjoyed the article and come to know how to utilize the tools for branding. Previously I was only using for my social network.

    Thanks

    regards
    shivlu jain
    http://shivlu.blogspot.com

  8. Hi Kevin
    Good reading – some really useful tips! I guess it’s just the issue of organising your time to keep on top of all these areas … and keeping all the information up to date and fresh!

  9. Kevin,

    Well thought out perspective of how to apply corporate branding on a personal level. This should help those seeking a job, or a career change.

    Best regards,
    George Carson
    http://www.carsonpr.com

  10. Dear Kevin, you have constructive thoughts that, while you have articulated them elegantly, have been posted online elsewhere for the past ten or more years. My intent is not to be contrarian, but to be practical. I can only assume that a number of people who read your posts are looking for work, or a better job. But while your remedies are interesting, the pall of the economy has descended among us, and there is a disturbing trend among the surviving companies to simply go cheap.

    If I may be so bold, personal branding means nothing in this economy. It’s all about how cheap I can buy you.

    So as admirable as it is to counsel things that you do in your post, marketing people and the HR people that are supposed to hire them are being fired by the hundreds every day. Do I have a solution? No. Your manual is great but in this environment, it’s all dicey.

    • Michael,

      I sincerely appreciate the feedback and fully understand your position. Let me respond with personal experience.

      I have worked for four startups in the past 10 years. Startups by their nature put you in transition every few years. You either are bought out, or you run out of money. Two startups were sold, one failed and I am working on my fourth as I speak. I tell you this because I have some experience “being in transition”. Each time, I have found myself looking for my next job, the experience has been very different. Yes, this most recent experience was the most challenging. We sold the startup that I was with to a multi-billion dollar company. I stayed on-board for 2-1/2 years and then they downsized in January and I found myself looking for a new job.

      My personal branding and business networking made all the difference in the world in finding my current position. Of the hundreds of people I networked with while I was in transition, the ones who were getting interviews and finding jobs were the ones who had been building a personal brand and networking while they had their prior jobs. The next category were the people who began doing it once they got laid off. Honestly, the ones who were struggling were the ones who didn’t understand the value of personal branding and/or networking.

      I fully respect your opinion. However, from my experience, the two most important things you can do when you are looking for your next job is to properly brand yourself and nurture your network.

      The job you want exists, or will exist shortly. How do you get to it? It is statistically unlikely that you will connect through a job board, the company website, or a recruiter. You need to be well networked at your target companies so that when the job opens, you are top-of-mind with the hiring manager and/or their immediate circle of colleagues. The only way you will be able to do this is if you are well networked.

      I believe that this strategy is more important today than ever.

      Your thoughts?

      – Kevin

      • Kevin:
        Being caught up in the “in transition” experience in New Jersey in the Pharma and Biotech world has been a unique experience and has opened my eyes to many of the strategies and tactics you have elaborated in your postings.
        Having the personal network has helped a lot by keeping in touch with those who are eventually planning to hire business leaders. At the moment, with major mergers in play, the hiring triggers are likely not to be pulled for a couple of quarters but I would be interested in your take on getting to the source or origins of where the new companies are likely to be set up to start the new ventures. My particular branding has evolved from the passion and ability you describe one should have: start up companies in Pharma/Biotech or Diagnostics from the ground up and being the “go to” leader to drive profits from existing businesses that are chaotic or off strategy.
        Since you have had that experience of starting up companies, any ideas on where one would find the greatest traction in improving “personal brand market awareness”? They are not likely to come from my traditional network. Thanks

      • David,

        Not knowing more detail on your personal situation, it is a little difficult for me to give advice. However, my personal philosophy is that we hire people we know, or are a degree or two of separation away. In other words, all things being equal, I am more likely to hired someone I have worked with, or who come with a recommendation by someone I know. Also, in a market where there is an over-supply of candidates, companies are able to be more selective. When you think back to roles you may have filled, what is the first thing you do? You create a job description and then you begin to ask people in your conference room, “do you know anyone?”

        You need to be top-of-mind with those people in the conference room. To do this, you need to network with a vengeance. Call five of your best contacts and meet them for coffee. Ask them how you can help them. Get a couple names for each and continue the process. Meet face-to-face, not over email or phone. We sell ourselves best face-to-face.

        If you are interested in startups, then begin to network at Venture Capital events. Meet the VC firms. Position yourself as a startup player who can solve problems. The bottom line is find your target market and then network in that area. Meet every Pharma/Biotech or Diagnostics executive you can.

        This may or may not have answered your question. Feel free to email me directly if you want to chat further.

        Best of luck to you!

        Kevin

  11. This is a great article Kevin,

    I am trying to set up a new on line business at the moment and the sea of information out there sometimes seems overwhelming. You have really thought this through and figures out what matters most. Thank you thank you.

    Betty

  12. Your article is most informative as it illustrates a well-thoughout plan for those of us in need of a new position. It makes perfect sense, that like the products we aim to sell, we too must brand ourselves. As the changes in the economy cross with the changes in technology, the difficulty lies in figuring out what that brand exactly is. For myself, I am totaly intrigued with the world of social media and networking. I’ve been working to educate myself so that I can eventually be considered an expert in that arena and sell my expertise to others. A majority of businesses and non-profits in my community have yet to catch on to the benefits and ROI that social networking can provide. I hope that I can come up with a plan of action in branding myself that will allow me achieve success in that arena. I’m open to suggestions!

  13. A good solid article.

    Let me note that many people forget different types of business cards – I keep one for my blog, one in general for making friends, and a third is in the works for my side hobbies. This may mean I carry 3 kinds of cards, but my message is targeted to my audience based on what they’re interested in.

  14. Very good article on personal branding Kevin. A lot of people blindly go out without knowing what they want to accomplish. Your article will give people a perspective on the message they want to send out utilizing various platforms including social media. I would also like to recemmend clothing as a branding tool. My brand is Sales Ninja Training, so i’m ‘always’ in black when ever i meet people in public or while doing trainings. Thanks for the article.

    Hanzo Ng
    Sales Ninja Grandmaster
    http://www.SalesNinja.com/blog

  15. Kevin,

    As an introvert by nature, subjects like personal branding don’t come naturally to me. I appreciated the accessibility of your writing style and the simple practical nature of your writing. Many thanks.

  16. great article and I would agree with someone else that it’s important to consider that your brand extends in your personal and business life particularly with social media and the lack of control about what others post about you.

    I also think it’s a good idea to google yrself and see what comes up – that will help to give you an idea of what your brand may look like to other people.

    Best
    Liz Luya

  17. Kevin,

    Just read the post from MBEN. Well done and I completely agree. I’m ramping up networking and personal branding while in a very strong position vs. should I be on the outside sometime in the future.

    As a fellow OC-based tech marketing vet , you’ll likely find a few of my blogs on marketing, branding, CEOs and strategy of interest.

    Cheers,

    Grant

  18. Here’s the link

    http://grantejohnson.wordpress.com/

  19. […] Building your Personal Brand by Kevin Liebl Posted on September 19, 2009 by helpmyresume Article Source:  https://kevinliebl.wordpress.com/2009/08/22/personal-brand/ […]


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