Why do companies devote so much time, energy, and money into marketing? In the United States, almost a quarter of a trillion dollars was spent by companies on advertising in 2017. If I had to guess, I would point to branding as the reason. Why is the BMW brand different from the Maserati brand? And Louis Vuitton from Gucci? It’s all of the intentional marketing decisions made by these companies over the years to create a narrative that is tailored to the specific group of consumers they want to attract. Which is? Branding. Commonly used in marketing by organizations, branding is a term with a high value attached. It’s not just the frills, the perks, and the packaging – it’s what drives the choice to include the frills, the perks, and the packaging. Look at it this way: you buy brands for what they represent, and employers hire people for what they represent as well. And what is the best way to present yourself? Self-branding.
Whether you are only starting out or are looking to rebrand yourself, follow these five fantastic, organizations-approved tips to boost your career and elevate your brand:
Know Who You Are as a Professional Brand, and Let Others Know, Too
To succeed, you have to be clear about who you are, what your goal is as a brand, and your approach to getting what you deserve. Say “goodbye” to a) your competitors (falsely) defining you and b) your customers having a vague idea of what you do and who you are. Decide how do you want to be remembered, which attributes define how you work, what your strengths and passions are, and how you can use it all for your professional benefit. Understanding and defining your brand is essentially an exercise in exploring how others see you, and how that meshes with how you want to be perceived. Keep these guiding questions in mind when defining your brand: How would I want my coworkers to describe me, how do they describe me now, and what can I do to bridge that gap? How do I want to affect others, how do I actually affect them, and what can I do to bridge that gap? What impression do I leave when I’ve left a room, what impression do I want to leave, and how can I bridge that gap?
Easier said than done, right? Hey, we’ve all been there. The thing is that, once you have defined your brand, you’ll automatically feel more confident about the presentation of it. Think of it this way: if people around you read that you are unsure of yourself, why would they want to have anything with you? It’s time to leave your comfort zone and show everyone your talents. Everyone from your potential employers to your customers and colleagues loves confidence, so make sure you put up your best self out there.
Give Your Online Presence a Deep Clean
It doesn’t seem fair that we must customize our personal life (i.e., the representation of it on the web) for our professional advancement, but we must. You can be sure that HR managers, recruiters, lead employers, supervisors, etc. will browse through your social media to get an idea of who you are (really) than read a resume that’s all sweet and shiny. So, if you are looking to update and polish your brand, go through your social media and delete anything potentially compromising. The idea is to have all of your social media reflect the image of yourself that will get you those interviews, job offers, and program/educational acceptances!.
P.S. Tidy up ALL THE PROFILES. Organizations don’t necessarily stop at LinkedIn.
Be Your Own Biggest Investment
Continual growth is one of the most critical aspects of every successful entrepreneur, employee, leader, and business guru’s brand. Regardless of the industry, you are in, don’t ever let yourself become stagnant and complacent, or your brand will also come to represent stagnancy and complacency. Challenge yourself to continually learn and upgrade, use problem-solving methods you haven’t before, beginning to hone skill sets you aren’t yet confident of, etc. Remain innovative, and inspire everyone around you. These days it’s easy to find professional development opportunities through community events, various member associations and networking events. Keep yourself marketable and competitive!
Put Your Trust In A Mentor
Whoever said that you can only rely on yourself had no idea what they were talking about. Everyone needs a little assistance here and there; if you feel like you’ve been stuck for a while but have been doing everything right, it’s time you found a mentor. A mentor is someone whose professional advice you trust, a person that can help you to navigate your career in a positive direction by sitting down with you to brainstorm various action plans. Mentors are people you admire, but whom are also willing, able, and more than that, enthusiastic about pouring into you as a three dimensional individual. Finally, remember that mentorship is not a transaction or a one-sided relationship. When reaching out to your mentors, always remember to ask them what THEY need, and if THEY need help with an upcoming event or endeavor. These kinds of mentees are the ones that mentors remember, and to whom they can conceivably become sponsors. (Stay tuned for a post on the difference between sponsors and mentors!)
Stay steady on the path toward your goals, and make sure you begin to work to build your brand, starting right now!