Saturday, May 04, 2013

How To Build a Strong Personal Brand


Courtesy of Black 'n Bougie 

What would happen if you lose your job today?

Can you pick up the pieces and move on? Or will your self esteem be shattered beyond repair?

Losing one's job has always been one of the chief concerns of mankind. Most of us identify ourselves more closely with our daytime careers than our other occupations (eg husband/wife, father/mother, chaffeur, tutor, coach, etc).

A good job brings us money, prestige, meaning and purpose in life. It provides interesting learning opportunities, allows us to make good friends, and takes us to fascinating new places.
 
The danger however, is that job stability is becoming a figment of the imagination. With the global economy as it is, organisations need to be agile. Unfortunately, this sometimes mean sacrificing workers when things head south.

To withstand these forces, it is critical for you to build your personal brand. Invest in your identity and strengthen your reputation in your desired field. Establish yourself as a thought leader and an expert vested with invaluable skills.

Start growing your personal brand by doing the following:

1) Identify what you're truly passionate about and good at. This could be a hobby or a profession. If you're a polymath, consider focusing on the area that is most unique or prized.

2) Develop platforms to share your craft. Promote what you do through blogs, videos, photos, wikis, or other content platforms.

3) While promoting your work is useful, do also invest time to teach others. Provide free lessons online. Share shortcuts, pro-tips, and useful facts as generously as you can. 

4) As you're sharing and generating stuff about you're good at, do remember to also learn from others. Read good books about your craft, and follow the leading experts in your field. This ensures that you constantly sharpen your personal saw.

5) Once you've established a certain rhythm and got a nice bit of content flowing, network and promote yourself. Participate in online forums, LinkedIn groups, Facebook groups and other communities. Follow like-minded folks on Facebook and Twitter. Share what you do on these channels, while being mindful not to be too zealous and spammy.

6) Embrace the principle of reciprocity. If in doubt, err on the side of generosity. Do unto others what you want others to do unto you (and maybe a little more). Nobody likes a person who loves to boast about himself or herself continuously. Where possible, encourage others with a "like", retweet, share, or comment. Post about the work of others if they're noteworthy.

7) When you're more confident over time, progress to sharing your craft offline. Organise get togethers, workshops and peer learning sessions. From my experience, I find that face-to-face gatherings are usually more enriching and valuable than online ones.

8) As you "level up" in your craft, consider participating in competitions and contests that are widely recognised as successful benchmarks. Participate in ratings and rankings to see how well you fare. Note that such an exercise can be a humbling one if you're not up to the mark.

The initial stages will probably be the most difficult. After all, what I'm prescribing almost sounds like another job. However, once you get into the habit, it becomes a more natural aspect of your daily life.

Of course, having a strong personal presence alone doesn't guarantee you a job. There are forces out there which we have no control over. However, it certainly allows you to stand out relative to others in your field, and can play a positive role in influencing your eventual career.

Are there other things you can do to boost your personal brand?
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