This post was inspired by Rohit's blog entry made on November 8th, How to Build Your Personal Brand:
"Just as the Internet once created a level playing field for small companies to compete with larger ones, personal branding has now become much simpler thanks to the Internet. You can create your brand online ...For the vast majority of corporate workers ... building a personal brand is the single best thing they can do for their careers."
In March 2003 I was fortunate to attend an inspirational
presentation by syndicated columnist Jeff Zbar at an American Marketing
Association event. Jeff said "If you are the brand manager of your personal
brand, what have you done to improve your brand? What have you done to put a
shine on your resume? What new product enhancements have you made? What is your
personal brand marketing plan?
For the first 20 years of my career I had spent a lot of time and effort building brands for companies such as McDonald's Coca-Cola, Sprint and eDiets.com. I hit a stage in my career where I had achieved the top marketing job and I needed to manage my own brand/future. Jeff Zbar's comments inspired me to create my personal brand.
I have been working on a presentation called the Ten Golden Rules for Building Your Personal Brand; here is the first draft of my Ten Golden Rules, please comment and help me craft this list!
- Be Your Own Brand Manger - Think of yourself as a brand. As my friend Andrea Nirenberg, author of Nonstop Networking said in a recent interview we did for my internet marketing podcast "If you were in the grocery store of life, why would somebody pick you up off the shelf? Are you new and improved, repackaged, what are you doing to get the competitive edge?" What can you do to improve your skill set? Is there a course you've been planning to take? Can you get to the next level with self-study through books, blogs and podcasts? Develop your brand marketing plan. How are you going to promote your brand? How are you going to take it to the next level? Set specific, measurable goals for yourself for example: 'I will get booked for 1 speaking engagement each quarter in 2008' or 'I will write 1 chapter of my book each month in the next 6 months'.
- Determine Your USP (Unique Selling Proposition)? - What makes you Distinctive? - How can you enhance your unique skills to separate yourself from other competitors for future business and career opportunities? I determined that my USP was a combination of brand marketing and direct/online experience. I wrote a presentation called "The Ten Golden Rules of Internet Marketing" which shaped my personal brand and propelled my life and career in exciting directions.
- Embrace Your Inner Author - Perhaps the strongest tool for building your personal brand is creating unique content. Write a blog. Write a book or a free eBook or white paper. Write articles and submit them to industry publications. Create your own website. Build interesting content on your Facebook profile and your LinkedIn page. The reason I know that Rohit Bhargava is a brilliant interactive strategist is because I discovered links to three of his blog posts within about two weeks. Content is King! And if writing isn't your thing, try podcasting - it is inexpensive and easy to get started.
- Build Your Net - Learn the skills of a successful networker. Attend high level networking events. Set a goal to make a few quality connections at each event and find out what you can do for the people you meet. Ask the new people you meet about them before sharing your elevator pitch. When you get home, add new contacts to Outlook or another contact management system. Follow up with your new acquaintances to connect them with business opportunities, employment leads and personal connections. The person who cares and follows up is the one that is remembered! Give with no intention of getting and watch the benefits come your way. Individuals with a strong network of real connections don't interview for their next job, they get business opportunities by answering the phone, and if necessary, they have a 'safety net' if a real need arises. Use online social networks such as Facebook, LinkedIn and even Twitter to build your social connections.
- Craft an Image. When you think of Bono I'm sure you can picture his blazer and stylish sunglasses. Donald Trump - signature hair, blue suit and bright tie. How can you stand out? Develop an authentic personal image that represents the next stage you want to achieve. Do you want to be a creative director or a department manager or a keynote speaker...what image does that person portray? How will you represent your authentic personal brand?
- Communicate a Strong Consistent Brand Message - If your business card doesn't sell your personal brand, create a personal brand card. Develop a memorable personal title or slogan representing your personal brand message such as 'internet copywriter extraordinaire' or 'Facebook application guru' . Copy your eBook or podcast to a mini CD and hand it out with your business card. Send out Press Releases for major personal events such as speaking events and new websites.
- Volunteer to Shine - I have used volunteer positions on boards and fund-raising organizations to refine my skills or to develop new ones! When I first accept a volunteer role, I normally select a role in an area I have previous experience. Once I learn the way the group operates and I have made a valued contribution I select a new role that pushes my comfort zone. I managed my first PR campaign as a volunteer and I managed a large group of people for the first time as a committee chairperson. Another way to enhance a skill is through freelance opportunities. Web sites such as Guru, e-Lance and the Gerson Lehman expert network offer an opportunity for you to sell personal assets that might not be part of your current job but can be on your future resume!
- Innovate to Lead. Test new technologies. Try the iPhone. Send a Twitter Tweet. Most new web technologies offer a free trial. Give the new tools a test drive and report on how they work on your blog. Position yourself as an early adopter and soon people will be asking you about the next big thing!
- Entrepreneur. To entrepreneur is a verb and an easy skill to learn...I wish I started entrepreneuring in my spare time much earlier in my career. More employers are looking to hire people who have managed their own business and there are almost no barriers to getting started. You can start selling products as an affiliate for free! Just visit Commission Junction or LinkShare, sign up as an affiliate and add links or banners to your personal blog and you're in business.
- Speak Up! Perhaps the single biggest differentiator for my career has been public speaking. I wasn't always comfortable in front of a crowd, so early in my career I attended weekly Toastmasters meetings and I devoured everything I could read about making great presentations. I also volunteered for small speaking opportunities for the social committee at work and the charity association I was involved with. Practice makes perfect and with experience you will feel confident in front of that roomful of CEO's.
Jay Berkowitz is the founder of internet marketing consultant TenGoldenRules.com, host of the Ten Golden Rules of Internet Marketing Podcast, a hockey player and a big fan of Rohit Bhargava. You might see Jay present at Webmaster World's Pubcon in Las Vegas, December 6, 2007 and at the Specialized Internet Publishers Association Annual Conference in Miami, December 13, 2007.
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