Successful Personal Branding
One of the most significant changes in the labor market over the last four years is the notion of free agency within the marketplace. Gone are the days of staying with one company for the duration of your career. Rather, most work for many companies throughout their career.
A growing trend - either voluntary or involuntary - is the proliferation of contract, free-agent labor. This free agent market where one contracts with multiple companies in a series of work assignments, institutes a new way of presenting oneself through personal branding. While this may be new to the workforce in general, some industries such as the film industry, have operated this way for decades.
Personal branding is a concept derived from the notion of "Me, Inc." The individual is the centerpiece of personal branding and every form of communication defines their brand. Carefully crafting a linking one's communication helps project a positive, consistent and powerful personal brand. While in the past, most companies defined us but today, the individual needs to define their own personal brand.
Resume: Think of this as a compilation of not only what you have accomplished but how you accomplished these items. Simply listing a time line of items that you have worked on over your career does not offer insight as to how successful you were in executing those items. Your brand should convey that your actions drive successful results and by results, that means you should quantify them.
Biography: A biography should include your strategic attributes in a one-page narrative form. Included in a biography should be previous job titles, education and other skills or accolades. This is an optimal location for listing credible appearances in media - both print and electronic. Your biography should summarize your background in a format that could be used to introduce yourself.
Photos: Professional headshots, on-camera videos and applicable logos are all essential to have "at the ready" in order to quickly provide to those that require a photo of you for publicity. Never miss an opportunity simple because you were not prepared. These graphic representations of what you look like in a variety of settings are crucial to have in the can.
Social Media: Social media provides a fantastic set of tools to enable one to broadcast their personal brand highly effectively and efficiently. Carefully linking each of these social tools together provide a common thread of both content and efficiency when it comes to communicating your personal brand. In my case, the website is the key driver of content that then delivers content to an array of social media applications. Once this blog is posted on my website, links of the blog are then posted to Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and YouTube (if video is included). In addition, content is delivered electronically to free article publishing sites such as EzineArticles and Carolina Business Connection.
Portfolio: Samples of past work in electronic formats that can easily be adapted are excellent to have on hand. Modifying previous formats to customize for prospective prospects or employees shows versatility by adapting your knowledge to fit the needs of a new client or situation. Your brand should communicate that your experiences are transferable and the reason you are being considered.
Testimonials: This is one area of branding that most miss - always have testimonials on hand. Third-party endorsements speak volumes on your background, skill set and integrity. A testimonial is perhaps of the single-most essential item one can have associated with their personal brand. When a third-party endorser takes the time to actually write out a testimonial on your behalf, clearly you are revered in their eyes. Having testimonials on hand enable you to utilize these when appropriate, if you are marketing the attributes of your brand.
In summary, every communication defines your personal brand. Pay close attention to the consistency in all medias - the greater the consistency, the stronger the brand.
John Matthews is the founder and president of Gray Cat Enterprises, Inc., a strategic planning and marketing services firm that specializes in helping businesses grow in the restaurant, convenience and general retail industries. With more than 20 years of senior-level experience in retail and a speaker at retail-group events throughout the U.S., Matthews has recently written two step-by-step manuals, Local Store Marketing Manual for Retailers and Grand Opening Manual for Retailers, which are available at http://www.graycatenterprises.com.
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