Personal Branding Is Your Competitive Edge

Personal Branding (PB) is in, and being driven by the tough job market, the glut of exceptional talent and growing social technologies.

Consider these job market factors:

  1. In this current turbulent and transformational economy, six people apply for every job, Atlantic.
  2. US workers aged 16-24 have an unemployment rate of 18.8%, nearly double the US population at 9.7%, Wall Street Journal.

Web 2.0 and its social technologies have energized and empowered PB, although it was coined by guru Tom Peters in a 1997 Fast Company “The Brand Called You.” Marketing expert Al Ries described PB in his iconic Positioning in 1980 (Chapter 23).

I am impressed with today’s experts Dan Schawbel, Brenda Bence and Colin Wright. Schwabel wrote Me 2.0: Build a Powerful Brand to Achieve Career Success.

So, what is PB, how does it work, why does it work and how do you get started?

What is personal branding?

Personal branding is the unique blend of your knowledge, skills and experience, and then how you present and communicate these unique capabilities to the public.

Schawbel further defines it in an interview: your PB is “everything from the clothing you wear, to how you behave and interact, to your body language.”

How does personal branding work?

It works in a job search, and when you are gainfully employed. The right, real PB can land you the job and enhance your position in a company (read raise, promotion, expanded, more fulfilling responsibilities, all of which can further build your brand).

In a job search, PB starts with traditional business cards, portfolios, cover letter and a social media resume. It benefits from social network profiles (e.g. Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter and active participation in discussions.) and your personal blog and other social media resources.

To stay employed and more important, to move up, start becoming invaluable, being the go to person, focusing on giving, producing content and start endorsing others who, in turn, may endorse you.

Why does it work?

It works because it can help you make more money and have more fun. Like the Apple brand, you brand can be paid more and you can be more fulfilled and enriched. Opportunities will find you, and you can have fulfilling work as an employee and entrepreneur. The good reputations and personal brands spread faster and broader.

How do you get started on your personal branding?

Schawbel says there are four steps: discover, create, communicate and maintain. Check out his Personal Branding tool kit. Bence’s personal brand positioning worksheets will pump your thinking. In his e-books, Colin Wright advises simply listing your most liked traits on one side of the paper and what you want to improve on the other side (e.g., positive attitude or perfection obsession).

In summary

Personal branding is as powerful as you make it. It enriches you personally and professionally. It is especially important and relevant in professional services careers like PR where your personality, appearance skills, knowledge, experience and brand are your asset.