Do you have your basics covered?
If you’re just getting started with personal branding, here’s what you need to keep in mind as you design your brand.
If you’ve already chosen a personal brand, use this guide to make sure you haven’t missed anything, or perhaps to realize that you can get better results with a tweaked brand or a whole new one altogether.
1. Create your character profile
This is the meat of your personal brand, the impression you want people to associate with you.
You will want to be authentic in choosing a brand that’s as close as possible to who you are today. It’s just easier, because most people have a hard time putting on an act consistently. Have you ever heard a comedian mention being “on”? Your personal brand should be comfortable like a slipper, not something you need to take off and put on.
But where does it come from?
Start on your own. Make a list of all your positive attributes, skills and achievements. Brainstorm, and then braindump it all onto paper (or Word, whatever works best for you).
Next, add existing external feedback. This could be but is not limited to:
- Comments, compliments & constructive criticism people have made (said, yelled, emailed, etc.) to you about you
- Recommendations and endorsements of any kind, such as letters from teachers, notes attached to exam results, evaluations, reactions on LinkedIn, newspaper reviews, you name it.
Put everything in one document, your character profile.
If you’re not sure how far back to research – yes, 4th grade is too far – a simple rule of thumb is to limit the research to the beginning of your last multi-year professional or academic experience. That should have given you enough time for some achievements and impression-making.
2. Define goals
What are you trying to achieve with your personal brand?
How will you know if you’ve achieved success, or if they’re still a lot of work to be done?
Your goal(s) should be definitive and easily verifiable:
- Good example: to get a certain job. You either have it, or you don’t.
- Bad example: to appear more professional. You might be able to get an answer, but you’d have to take a poll to find out.
- Horrible example: to help students/the unemployed/military vets “succeed.” How can you measure that? If 10% of your audience “succeeds”, have you done so?
If you have multiple goals, they should be related so that it is possible to achieve them all. At the very least, none of your goals should make the others less achievable.
Also, it’s ok to change your goals later if you decide that your personal brand will be more suited to other goals that you discover over time.
Now that you have a list of goals, go back to your character profile document and circle, underline or bold the positive feedback and recognition that is related to your goals (which also has the effect of de-emphasizing the feedback that isn’t related).
This highlighted information will form the basis for your branding message.
In How To Choose Your Personal Brand – Part II, we’ll take a look at crafting that branding message and communicating it successfully.