While companies have always needed to sustain a strong and positive reputation to succeed, today, every business leader also needs to manage their own personal brand. Given that information is so widely and quickly shared online, it’s easy for even the most brand-savvy executive to find themselves being portrayed in ways that are either inaccurate, or worse, potentially damaging.

The good news is that leaders can adopt a proven strategy that builds a relevant and dynamic reputation that is right for them and their company. That strategy, which is rooted in product management, begins with the recognition that you are far more than a brand — i.e. the way that you are thought of or spoken about by others — you are, in fact, a product. This alters the way you must market yourself regardless of your goals.

For example, if you were simply marketing a brand online, you would focus on shaping key messages (e.g. Steve Jobs is known as an innovator who is obsessed with perfection). You would limit yourself to being concerned with the language used to describe you, where that conversation takes place, and who you are associated with. But, marketing yourself as a product, means you address what it is you actually do — your features and functionality — along with how this brings value to your clients, your colleagues, your profession or your community (e.g. Steve Jobs leads one the world’s most inventive companies which consistently yields better-than-expected dividends).

According to Simon Brightman, a much sought-after product management expert, “Successful senior executives have embraced a product management approach because it is based on results, profitability and the ability to adapt.”

To present yourself successfully as a product means following a proven five phase process:

Phase I: Idea Generation. In this phase conduct some initial research. Also, contact relevant associations and identify those people who are thought of as highly successful. With these findings in hand, identify your own strengths and weaknesses as well as opportunities and threats. Finally, develop possible visions of you as a product — i.e. what are some of the things that you will do and how that fills a particular market’s need.

Phase 2: Assessment and Prioritization. Based on the ideas that you develop in the first phase, get some feedback. Also use friends and colleagues to help you determine if what you plan to do is actually in-line with who you are. “This is one of the most critical phases when defining yourself as a product”, according to Jeff Hendler of Toronto-based professionals, The Product Accelerators. He continues, “To effectively transform yourself into a successful product means knowing your true capabilities and how you approach problems.”

Phase 3: Product Development. Once you know what it is you are planning to do, start pulling together the resources required to build you as a marketable product. That means adding new skills, pursuing specialized accreditations and identifying those people or organizations that will play a role in marketing you. For example, reach out to colleagues and have them write strong recommendations for you on your LinkedIn profile. It’s at this stage that you should also be developing and testing the kinds of messages that you want to emphasize when promoting yourself.

Phase 4: Launch. Now that you are a well-defined and tested product, it’s time for you to systematically introduce yourself to the market that will benefit most by what it is that do. Gather initial feedback to see how you are being perceived. Determine if you are being embraced by your target markets.

Phase 5: Refine. Based on the results from the launch phase, look to refine your core offering. “Refinement and adjustment are the keys to the longevity of a product. People forget that today’s iPod has gone through nearly a dozen iterations. The same is true when defining yourself as a product”, says Brightman. “Collecting feedback and a commitment to constantly improve has turned the iPod into a game changing product.”

Going through these steps will help you to turn yourself into a product that everyone wants.