I stumbled onto the world of personal branding accidentally, when I realized that I had a problem with my own brand identity. It was back in 2009, when I was the Executive Director of Marketing at Popular Mechanics. I started to notice that when I was being introduced to other people, both in social and professional settings, I was referred to or introduced as a “magazine person,” or someone who “works in Publishing,” or even someone who “works at Hearst Magazines.” All of these statements were 100% accurate. However, while these introductions correctly refer to an industry, a brand, and a company, respectively, none described the actual work that I did, or what I was most proud of. I prided myself on being, a strong, talented, forward-thinking B2B branding and marketing executive, with an MBA in Marketing from Columbia Business School, who could help an organization thrive in turbulent times. I realized that I had a branding problem of my own, and I wasn’t sure what to do about it. It was critical for my career to be known as a branding/ marketing executive, and not a publishing or print media person.
One day after work I went online, and entered a longtail search query of some sort – I’m guessing it was something along the lines of “How do I change the perception of my personal brand” And there I discovered the nascent world of personal branding. In 2009 there wasn’t an abundance of material available online, but there was enough so that I learned to do some basic things to bolster my cause. I learned more about the concept of developing an effective elevator pitch and did some work to refine how I introduced myself to others. At the time I had no summary on LinkedIn, and learned how valuable this could be in educating others about my overall marketing experience and expertise.
Fast-forward to today, and there are so many more resources on the topic of personal branding, and companies like Repceptional that you can hire to help you build and cultivate an online brand. But before you even start to think along those lines, I encourage you to take a step back, and revisit my experience back in 2009. Take inventory of your own situation, and listen carefully to how others are introducing you. Are they doing your brand justice? Are they bringing out your strongest attributes, or just naming a company, brand, or industry that you work for? How about your own elevator pitch: Does it do you justice?
If you have a brand identity problem as I did, a simple, short-term remedy is to work hard at crafting a smart, effective elevator pitch, and then using it as frequently as possible. It will also be there for you to supplement an introduction where someone else leaves out some of the critical, positive details. Then, take inventory of what appears online when you enter your name in a search query. Are there enough positive search results to tell a comprehensive story of your brand? Do your social media properties effectively communicate your unique promise of value? Does your LinkedIn profile have a strong headline and summary that immediately lets people know the unique value that you bring to the table?
There is so much that you can do today to build your personal brand. And with hard work and attention to it, you will be amazed at the results that you see, and how positively it can impact your career!
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