I have heard of people creating personal websites and writing blogs to further their career. This sounds like a lot of extra work. Is it worth it? How would I start?
Dear, Brand New to Branding,
These smart cookies are creating a “personal brand.” We all know about product branding – Coca-Cola, Apple, Toyota, GE. When someone mentions McDonalds, don’t you immediately think of the red and yellow colors, French fries, and the golden arches? But what is meant by developing a personal brand?
The American Marketing Association (AMA) defines a brand as a “name, term, design, symbol, or any other feature that identifies one seller’s good or service as distinct from those of other sellers.” When we apply the concepts of the marketing world to you and your career, this translates to what makes you special, unique, and different from other employees and professionals. Wikipedia explains personal branding as the practice of people marketing themselves and their careers as brands. I love Cornelia Shipley’s definition on Careerealism.com: “Your Personal Brand is simply the facts in discussion about you. The facts get introduced one of three ways:
- What you say.
- What you do.
- What others say about what you said or did.”
Here are 5 keys to create a noteworthy personal brand.
- Determine your Brand Attributes. How would you define yourself? What’s your function? What words would you and others use to describe you? What image do you want to portray? What are your core values? Entrepreneurs and sales people often come up with an “elevator speech” – a brief commercial that communicates who you are in about 30 seconds (the time it takes people to ride to the top of a building in an elevator). Succinct brand statements can be powerful; Reebok’s brand statement is “Fit for life. Having fun and staying in shape.”
- Social Media. In our electronic age, your online footprints can influence your career. Check out my blog about Online Reputation Monitoring. While LinkedIn may be the most important site for your work life, look at all of your social media accounts. Does every page, photo, post, and tweet reflect your brand attributes you generated in #1?
- Personal Website. To increase search engine visibility beyond social media, personal websites are becoming more popular. I’m not going to lie; building and maintaining a website will take time and effort. While your résumé may be in a standard format to meet with Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS), a personal website can show more of your personality, from the design templates you choose to the bio paragraph you craft. Check out some great sample websites at Tutorial Chip for inspiration. You can go hog-wild and introduce videos, a blog (see #4), and loads of links to professional organizations, articles relevant to your industry, and testimonials. Be sure to keep your site updated, especially if you are in job search mode, so that it won’t detract from your image.
- Personal Blog. If you enjoy writing, and can commit to posting regularly, consider starting a blog. Writing about your industry will not only develop a deeper knowledge to help you in your career, but it can position you as an expert in your field. Make sure you proofread your post before publishing!
- Networking in Person. Building relationships in your current company, with others in your industry, and with your personal contacts can lead to promotions, career opportunities, and an outstanding professional reputation. Don’t neglect off-line relationships!
So is personal branding worth the toil? You’re already selling ideas every day, from convincing your spouse which restaurant to choose for dinner to proposing better ways of doing a task at work. Taking the extra steps with your career can set you apart. With so many people applying for jobs electronically, how much more will you stand out if you have invested the time and can provide links to a personal website and blog? (It’s working for me; after all, you’re reading my blog!)
Readers: Share your personal brand websites in the comments below.
Do you have a job-related question? Ask Anita.