At Metzger Associates, we build our clients’ corporate, product and service brands. Though most people associate personal branding with celebrities, there are many opportunities to build personal brands for ourselves within the professional communities. We can use some of the same strategies to develop our own personal brands as we do for clients.
Messaging and Positioning
First, you need to figure out who your brand is and what it stands for. Conduct a messaging and positioning session with yourself. What are your strengths? What are your weaknesses? What are your goals? How do you want people to perceive your brand? What is your niche, and what makes you different?
Then, write out a positioning statement for yourself. Here’s mine:
I am an expert in pitching and relationship building with extensive knowledge of the cyber security, consumer fashion and beverage industries.
The next thing to focus on is image. How do you want to be perceived? Developing your image comes in two parts: physical and online.
Mark Twain said, “Clothes make the man.” Your clothing choices need to reflect the perception you want to create for your brand. Is your brand a t-shirt and jeans, or a three-piece suit?
Think of what you wear as a restaurant or website. What is it about your appearance that makes you want to walk through the front door or click through to the site? A website with a white background and black Arial-12 point font is not going to scream, “You want to know me, find out more!”
You need to appeal to your audience with what you choose to wear. You need to be confident in what you wear. I think high heels give my personal brand the power to walk into any situation with confidence. Keep in mind the culture and situation when dressing and carrying yourself. You wouldn’t show up to a black-tie affair in a pair of running shoes.
Online networking has changed the way we interact and make first impressions. Many young professionals first experienced social media in college and rely on it to know or learn about other people, as do hiring departments, ‘Our Team’ section on company websites and other venues. The photos and messages you post online can have a direct impact on your career, your company and how you are perceived professionally.
When we develop messages for our clients, we make sure each has a purpose and is beneficial to the brand. This principle needs to be applied as well to our personal and professional social media accounts. The messages I push out via my Twitter and Facebook accounts are a mix of both personal and professional. I like to share stories about my clients, industry information and pieces I have placed in blogs and online publications. All of my messages have a purpose and a goal.
There was a recent piece on Entreprenuer.com by Lewis Howes on the “5 Ways Social Media Can Ruin Your Reputation.” This article offers some great advice on the type of content you should not be sharing online.
Develop Relationships with Your Audience
Get in on the conversation, online and offline. Follow the people who inspire you and have similar branding to yourself. Take a look at who your CEO and colleagues are following on Twitter. Follow them. Retweet them. Talk to them.
Go to as many networking events as possible. Personally, I would rather sit down and have a face-to-face conversation with someone over a cocktail. Call me old school, but I believe there is real value in taking the time to learn about someone in person.
PR professionals are known for pitching, aka “harassing,” journalists and bloggers. Take a step back and get to know a reporter as an individual. One thing about Denver is that it is a small town at heart. There is a 97 percent chance you and that media professional have some of the same friends and interests. Let that professional relationship touch the boundaries of who you are outside of work.
Personal branding goes beyond celebrities, athletes and CEOs. It affects our personal and professional lives. How do you want your brand to be defined?