Become your own brand

This is a copy of an interview with Dan Schawbel, managing partner of Millennial Branding, LLC and me posted on AZCentral.com in the ARIZONA BUSINESS & MONEY section:

More people are turning to personal branding to help land a job or catapult their career.

“Your brand is you and all your strengths and everything you have to offer,” says Kathy Bass, founder of Phoenix-based Ladies Who Brand Inc. “You’re essentially the CEO of You Inc. The stronger and better you can communicate that, the bigger you can become.”

Arizona’s fragile economy — and fierce competition for jobs — means that branding is even more important, Bass says.

An effective brand gives an edge to job seekers and workers who want to advance their careers, experts say. People who are diligent about building a brand become known as experts with specific skills. That means that workers can make more meaningful connections when they are networking. Decision makers and colleagues are more likely approach branded experts with career opportunities because of their know-how.

“You’ll have people trying to seek you out, instead of having to seek other people out,” says Dan Schawbel, managing partner of Millennial Branding, LLC, a personal-branding agency in Boston. “That’s the difference, really, in terms of the results of people who are very aggressive with branding vs. the people who are not.”

Discovering one’s authenticity is perhaps the most difficult and crucial step to creating a successful brand.

It forces people to re-evaluate their career goals and personal desires, Bass says, adding that she has experienced a “brand identity crisis” herself.

Most people make the mistake of trying to connect with people before they take the time to brand themselves and define their core identity, Bass adds.

“I’ve, scarily enough, been on conference calls where people have asked how they can become more authentic, which tells me they’re really out of touch with reality,” she says.

To start developing a brand, Schawbel recommends these steps:

  1. Evaluate your experiences at previous jobs and determine what skills you have gained.
  2. Decide which area to become an expert in.
  3. Create a website that clearly represents a distinct personal brand.
  4. Establish an online presence by actively using social networks such as Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn. Constantly network in relevant communities.

As you hone your brand, think carefully about your career goals, Schwabel says.

“You want to brand yourself for the career that you want, not the job you have or had,” he says.

Establishing an effective personal brand can be a tedious process that requires people to be highly committed, Schawbel says, but notes that the benefits of doing so can last a lifetime.

“Everyone is a brand, whether they want to be or not,” Bass says. “You better take control and manage it and make sure that other people’s perception matches the reality that you want them to see.”

Branding mistakes

  • Overpromoting yourself rather than focusing on how to appeal to the industry leaders who could hire you.
  • Imitating others and trying to be something you’re not.
  • Constantly changing your brand because you didn’t spend time determining what makes you unique and authentic.

Sources: Dan Schawbel, managing partner of Millennial Branding LLC and Kathy Bass, founder of Ladies Who Brand Inc.

 

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