Now you have your personal brand definition, you need to use it to help you build a positive image in the minds of your target audience / sector. There is no point in leaving it hidden away – make sure you have it where you can easily refer to it, at least in the beginning. You now need to put your personal brand strategy into action and make sure that you create a winning profile, that will get you on the radar of the people you need to impress. In corporate brand speak this is where you embark on your branding – ie. how your brand acts, looks and speaks. You will use your new WhyMe? in exactly the same way – what you say, what you do and how you look. All designed to help you achieve your goals quickly and seamlessly.
Your Brand Definition will act as your guide for everything you do publicly. It will help you take a strategic approach to your activity, communicating:
- What makes you special
providing content for:
- Your social media
- Your branding
- Your CV / Covering Letter
Communicating what makes you special
Now you have defined your personal brand and are thinking about ways of bringing it to life and using it for your advantage it is a good idea to create a list of statements (six to ten) that you can (and want) to say about yourself to promote who you are positively.
These statements should focus on your particular talents, skills or achievements that together will showcase what makes you unique. Think about them in terms of what are the various important facets of your personality and skill set which you think help you to stand out. You won’t necessarily put these statements out in your social media postings verbatim but they should help provide you with a set of areas where you should be demonstrating knowledge, expertise or interest in your posts. Think about them as helping to direct the content of your social media activity.
All successful brands in the marketplace have developed a set of statements which they use to promote their brand. The reason they do this is to ensure that they are always promoting the same perception of their brand – consistent messaging is more likely to resonate with their target audience and it helps maximise their effort as a clearer, more motivating brand image is built more quickly.
The approach is exactly the same for personal brands. If you want to attract the right attention with your target audience you need to promote yourself in the right way, which means communicating your strengths in a positive way that will impress them. You are more likely to succeed if you are consistent – a scattergun approach with numerous conflicting messages will both confuse and get you lost in the myriad of other people communicating their hearts out.
Having a set of statements which focus on your strengths will provide you with the approach and content for your posts and points of view.
Your social media
Social media is only likely to become more important and is one of the main drivers as to why you should develop a personal brand. You need to be sure that whatever you are posting online is helping your ultimate goal – successfully pursuing the career you want.
- The first step is to review all your social media sites against your personal brand definition. With the plethora of choice available it is important that you focus on the sites that will be of the most benefit – worse than having no social media presence is one that is static and never changes. Which sites are the most important in the light of your Vision and target audience / sector? Focus on those.
- Next view your activity – your overviews / posts / comments / connections / network including people and brands or organisations that you follow. How do they measure up against WhyMe? – would you recognise the qualities you have defined (Values / Personality) from your activity? Would your proposed target market be impressed? Are your statements reflected in your social media? Can I tell what is important to you and what sort of a person you are from your posts? Make sure that there is no dissonance between your private and public sites – keep your private ones discreet. Without meeting you, does your social media activity make it clear what sort of a person you are and what is important to you?
- Draw up an action plan of what you need to improve your social media profile, which might include:
- rewriting your introductions or overviews
- creating a list of organisations or people that would be useful to follow
- increasing the number of connections you have
- creating a set of interesting features (words / pictures) that you can post
- setting up a blog – it’s pretty easy to do this yourself these days (wordpress: https://wordpress.org/ is a good option) – and then use sites such as LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram to draw attention to it.
A successful social media strategy relies largely on two things – interesting content and regular activity. Whilst activity alone will push your profile to the top of the pile, to impress you want to be noticed for more than simply presence. You want a presence that is interesting, incisive and insightful. So, using your statements messages as a starting point, create content that will stop you appearing anodyne – have a point of view, ask some questions, get a conversation going, comment on other people’s postings – it’s all about finding your voice. Fulfilling your goals won’t come easily if you are a shrinking violet – the more you do it, the easier it becomes.
No, you don’t need to create a visual identity – unless you are a freelancer or embryonic business in which case it is a good idea. If that is the case, then your personal brand definition should act as the brief for that identity.
In the case of individuals branding can be interpreted as how you present yourself – the clothes you wear, your choice of bag / briefcase, your shoes, how you cut your hair etc.
Inevitably your chosen career sector will have a part to play in how you appear – if you are aiming for the more conservative area of finance then a more sombre approach to your appearance will be called for, whereas if you are targeting the more creative areas such as the Arts, a more casual and creative approach might be more appropriate.
However, that doesn’t mean that you have to don a uniform. There is still a place for individuality even amongst the serried rows of grey suits – the trick is to be part of the team without being subsumed by it. There is always room for a sliver of individuality, you just have to make sure that you hit the right level. Look at your personality traits in your brand definition – they will help you with props. For example, if you want to appear learned and rigorous – books / kindle / newspapers / trade journals are good props to carry. If you have described yourself as sociable don’t ignore the receptionist when you are waiting for your interview – strike up a conversation, be engaging. If you do get called for an interview, then remember you are playing a part – everything you do must be working towards getting you that role from the second you step into that building.
Your CV / Covering Letter
Although CVs / Covering Letters are increasingly becoming the ‘icing on the cake’ (given all the other ways that candidates can make an impression nowadays) you still need them, so the first thing to do is to make sure that your CV – and in particular your Covering Letter – reflects your own WhyMe?. Addressing your CV / Covering Letter is probably the easiest place to start. So, review these against your finalised WhyMe?:
- Are they communicating your unique offer (Values / Personality / Supporting Factors)?
- Are they focused on reaching your Vision?
- Have you included all the right supporting factors to underpin your talents and skills?
- If you read your CV / Covering Letter cold and created a summary would it reflect the brand summary / essence you wrote as part of WhyMe? ?
Refine your CV / Covering Letter in line with your WhyMe?, that way you know that you are building the picture you want.
Now it’s over to you!
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