Monday, June 21, 2010

7 insights on building your personal brand

On Tuesday June 15, I was invited to participate in an informal roundtable discussion on personal branding, led by Alan Kay of The Glasgow Group. Here are seven brief insights I gained from the event, and some additional resources I've since discovered.

What is a personal brand?
A personal brand (like a conventional product brand) is a set of elements that lead to trust and help customers make choices. The essence of your personal brand is what’s unique to you, and how it benefits your customers. Clear identify for yourself what you’re good at (be specific), and where you want to go (and grow).

Why should I worry about my personal brand (especially if I’m an employee)?
Whether you think you have one or not, you do have a personal brand. Be conscious of what you do and who you are associated with, since the digital universe never forgets things (you’d be surprised at what comes up when you Google your name)! A positive personal brand will help you get your next position (as an employee) or your next customer (as a consultant / entrepreneur).

How do customers connect with my brand?
First emotionally, then they rationalize their choices afterward. If you are truthful and passionate about yourself and what you do, customers will be drawn to you. Try to have a consistent brand persona, but remember you can have some fun at the same time. We’re all human after all!

How can I boost my credibility?
Within reason, communicate openly about the well-known brands / experts you’ve been associated with (e.g., as past employers, collaborators) so that their intrinsic credibility rubs off on you.

How can I strengthen my brand?
‘Working your network’ and building relationships is not enough. To battle the inevitable ‘commoditization’ of talent, continually improve the quality and uniqueness of what you do. Add value in every interaction (it’s better to ‘give’ than ‘ask’).

How should I promote my brand?
With all the new media channels available today (Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, blogs, YouTube, etc.) there’s never been a better time to leverage your personal brand. As often as you can, post interesting or provocative insights and comments to try and grow your network, and position yourself as the thought-leader in your field.

Strive to demonstrate ‘business maturity’:
Whether you’re starting out or are well established in what you do, it pays to show you:
· can understand and adapt and learn on the fly (be flexible)
· can respectfully share your experience with others (be collaborative)
· can listen effectively (be engaged)
· have the confidence to take initiative (be proactive)

Some additional resources on personal branding:
* Alan Kay's follow-up blog: 7 ways to build your personal brand…now!
* Personal Branding Blog – read articles from various thought-leaders, and download the free, 16-page ebook, 10 Personal Branding Secrets You’ve Never Heard Before. 
* – sign up for the free monthly ‘Personal Branding VIP Newsletter,’ and download the free, 24-page ebook, From Tweet to Hired: The Brand-Yourself guide to Leveraging Twitter to Advance Your Career. 
* 'How to Develop your Personal Brand' – short, helpful article from Susan Young of Get in Front Blogging.
* 'Honest, believable, sustainable: the brand of me' – an insightful blog from 'creative entrepreneur' Rebecca E. Parsons.
* Book: Crush It! by Gary Vaynerchuk (available as an audiobook from – an informative and passionate call to build your brand on the now-egalitarian platform of social media.
* A 'Venn Diagram' on the three attributes required for maximizing your individual talent, from talent coach Lisa Martin.

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