Posted On28 Aug 2019
8 Steps to Developing a Professional Brand That Works
When you hear the word 'brand,' what's the first thing that pops in your head? A company? An organization? A conglomerate? These are the entities that are often associated with branding, which is their primary marketing strategy to become easily recognizable in a saturated market. But branding can happen at a much smaller scale. In fact, you can be your own brand.
Building a brand is all about leaving an impression that resonates in the mind of people. It helps you stand out of the crowd and differentiate yourself in a way that is meaningful to your intended audience, whether it's your manager, company, like Resumeble, co-workers, clients, etc. Personal branding helps create value around your name and profession—value that you will soon use to draw people to your skills, personality, values, and message. The more people you draw in, the better your career outlook will be.
Developing an effective professional brand takes time, but it needs to be done if you want your career to evolve. Here are eight steps to help you develop and project your own brand.
1. Identify your main selling points
Before anything else, you need to know what you're good at. What are the types of work you excel in? What motivates you? What are the projects that you are willing to immerse yourself without feeling tired or overwhelmed? If you don't know the answers, ask people close to you. Once you have a keen understanding of the skills you can harness, you can then move forward on how to brand them.
It also helps to understand your weaknesses and how they can potentially affect your brand image. Ask yourself: what are the negative things that people say about you? When do this negative feedbacks happen, and why? Determine the areas where you are weak and find out how you can turn those weaknesses into your strengths.
2. Create a vision for your brand
More than who you are now in the present, your professional brand also defines your future goals for yourself. Companies create a vision for their goals, and personal branding begins much the same way. Forecasting where you want to be in three, five, or even ten years—can help you visualize the steps that you must take to get there.
3. Pinpoint your target audience
Another component of professional branding that you should identify in the early stages is your target audience. Who are you trying to reach? Is it your manager? Colleagues? Customers? Recruiters? Another company, perhaps? When you have your audience pegged, you need to develop an understanding of what they want from you. That way, you can shape your brand into an entity that your audience can empathize with.
4. Develop your online and offline persona
Just like any brand, you need to build a persona, and the tools that will help you build it are called your 'branding assets.' Online, these can include various things like social media, websites, business cards, flyers, etc. Through these instruments, you can address your target audience's needs and establish a connection. Your persona should market you in a way that answers simple questions like "What problems do my audience face?" or "How can my skills address these problems?"
5. Build your brand
Having a vision, audience, and persona gives you the main ingredients needed to concoct your brand recipe. The next step is to simply fashion your brand according to these three parameters, but of course, this is easier said than done. To cite an example, if your goal is to for hiring managers and recruiters to contact you within 60 days, you may start by updating your LinkedIn profile, sending out a polished resume, chatting with recruiters in online forums, etc.
Likewise, if you're a content writer looking to do freelance work, you may promote your content by posting links of your work to relevant sites, content syndication, content repurposing, guest posting, working with influencers to share your posts, etc.
Traditional professional branding, such as business cards, flyers, and newsletters may be less than common, but they are far from obsolete. Don't be afraid to go out into the world and let people know about your brand using these tools. Opportunities to promote your brand can pop up at any time, and having these traditional branding tools on hand can prove handy on such occasions.
Of course, your best tool for promoting your brand is yourself. In everything you do, and in how you carry yourself in public, make it so you appear reliable, approachable, and knowledgeable in your audience's eye.
Depending on your goals, achieving the right amount of exposure for your professional brand can be difficult. The key is to find where your target audience spends their time. By networking regularly and effectively, you can grow your professional circle. Go to formal and informal networking events online and in the real world. Make it a goal to meet with not just your peers, but influencers and industry thought leaders as well. Strive to build connections that you can nurture into relationships. The more professional contacts you cultivate, the more likely your personal brand will be recognized.
7. Monitor your brand
Efficient monitoring is essential to a brand's success. Now more than ever, it's easier for brands to track mentions and activities and be alerted to the use of specific keywords and brand names with the many online apps available. You'll need to monitor the perception and growth of your personal brand to see what your audience thinks about you. Conversations about your brand can turn toxic fast, and monitoring allows you to intervene quickly, so you can nip issues in the bud.
8. Tweak your personal brand as you grow
If you are able to successfully navigate the steps above, then your brand will grow. That said, continued growth requires you to adapt and find ways to stay relevant. Adjust your persona accordingly as you interact with your audience, discover new opportunities, and grow in your career.
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