There was a time when just meeting your job description was good enough. A time when average input, lead to average output; when a 9 to 5 job would provide you with a ‘good-enough’ salary.

That time is no more.

Due to globalization and the economic downturn, you really need to act to stand out; you need to tell your story in order to be heard, and be visible online in order to be seen.

If you don’t, you risk becoming a dime in a dozen. And with on average 118 people applying for any given job opening, you really don’t’ want to become a dime in a dozen.

But even with increased levels of competition and economic difficulties, there are more opportunities than ever to become successful in your field, but success now requires a certain change in your mindset:

You need to start of thinking of yourself as a brand – a personal brand.

I know that personal branding on the surface might sound a bit corporate, but nothing could be further away from the truth; it’s actually extremely personal.

The essence of personal branding is to show the true you; It’s about showing who you really are – telling your personal and professional story, both online and offline.

It’s the perfect way to stand out and be seen, and it only requires three simple things.

Step 1: Understand who you are

You know who you are. I mean, nobody knows you better than you. But then again, are you able to put ‘who you are’ into words?

When someone asks you for your strengths and weaknesses, or about your goals and dreams, are you able to provide them with a clear answer?

If you’d have to tell someone what it is you believe in and what you stand for; then what would you tell that person?

Personal branding starts with knowing who you are.

Step 2: Set goals for yourself

When you know who you are, the next step is to know what it is that you want to achieve.

What are your short-term and long-term goals?

This can be everything from “I want my personal website to be shown on the first page of Google,” to “I’d like to be able to make a living as a public speaker.”

Whatever it is, you need to set goals for yourself. You need a vision that you want to work towards.

For each of your goals, try to make it as specific as possible, and set a specific time-frame in which you’d like to achieve these goals. By making your goals both specific and time-bound, you’re going to be more focused and determined to reach them.

But beware: your goals have to be realistic. If you already know that it’s highly unlikely that you’ll achieve the goals you’ve set out for yourself, then there’s no point in setting them; within no-time you’ll be demotivated and distracted.

Building your personal brand is a step-by-step process, and setting goals for yourself will help turn a long-term process into a highly enjoyable and rewarding journey.

Because make no mistake; personal branding really is a long-term investment in yourself. Don’t expect massive, easily achieved short-term goals.

Rome wasn’t built in a day, and neither will your brand. But that’s how you should see it: you’re building a global capital.

Step 3: Dare to be different

Like marketing guru Seth Godin says: “By definition, remarkable things get remarked upon.”

And in the end that’s what you want, being remarked upon. You want people to know what you stand for and what you’re capable of.

But in order to do that, you have to dare to be different. If you’re trying to be too many things to too many different people, you’re not going to be of any real value to anyone.

So pick a niche; choose a topic that you don’t mind spending hours and hours on. Work with your passions, because developing those passions will help you create value.

The only true way that you can avoid being a dime in a dozen is by being different – by being remarkable.