Seven Steps to Building a Confident Personal Brand

Salma Shah

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By Salma Shah

The current trends in today's fast-paced working world lean toward the importance of self-promotion and being remembered for all the right reasons. Few of us have "jobs for life," and some of us may want portfolio careers or promotions, or dream of starting our own businesses and working for ourselves. Talent alone doesn't guarantee that circumstances around you won't change.

A strong personal brand will put you in a much better position during and after change. Another benefit of a strong personal brand is that it creates trust and draws others to you as new opportunities present themselves.

Your personal brand is how you market yourself, the way you communicate, and how others describe you. Developing a powerful and distinctive brand requires projecting your purpose onto the world.

1. Understand the Reasons Behind Your Brand

Today's fast-paced working world highlights the importance of self-promotion, and we all want to be remembered for the right reasons. Very few people now have "jobs for life," with an increasing number wanting portfolio careers; that requires frequent job changes and a network of contacts. If you're aiming for a promotion or dream of starting your own business, then talent alone may not be enough. A strong personal brand will put you in a great position before, during, and after change to ensure things go your way. It will create trust within your industry and draw others to you as new opportunities become available. Understanding the benefits is the first step to building your brand.

2. Identify Your Brand Values

Your values are indicators of what is deeply important to you. They're the driving force behind the choices you make and how you live your life. An authentic brand will align with your core values, so first you'll need to identify what it is that's important to you and how to promote this within your career. For example, if creativity is important, you need to find a way of expressing this. If your job is more analytical than creative, you can still express this value in a variety of ways, from your presentation style to the way you dress. It's the little things that will ultimately build your brand values. Ideally, to be fulfilled in your career, your personal values need to be congruent with the culture in which you work. Those with a strong brand who are clear about their personal values can make intentional choices to work in compatible cultures.

3. Decide What Will Set You Apart

For a distinctive brand, focus on what makes you unique. It's the combination of skills,hobbies, values, experiences, passions, and the image you project that will set you apart.

According to David Ogilvy, in his book Confessions of an Advertising Man, "It's the total personality of the brand, rather than any trivial product difference, which decides its position in the market place."

4. Know Your Audience

Be clear on your current and future audience, and position your brand accordingly. Where will they see, hear, and read about you? Being authentic means you're not likely to appeal to everyone, but don't worry about alienating people, a strong brand will attract you to the right individuals.

5. Look, Behave, and Sound the Part

There's nothing trivial about missing out on opportunities because your image is letting you down, or you sound unsure of yourself—your voice accounts for 38% of the impression you make on people. Ask yourself how you want to sound: powerful, engaging, confident? Your appearance, personal style, and how you behave should all project your brand values.

6. Create Brand Stories

Your brand stories are the anecdotes you share to tell others more about you. A strong brand story will speak to the feelings of your audience, creating an emotional rapport and trust. You needn't memorize a list of anecdotes you must fit in at networking events, but be aware of the stories you are telling, and how you are engaging with others.

7. Use Social Media

Social media is a quick and effective tool for building your personal brand, both for its reputation and its reach. Blogging, YouTube, and LinkedIn are all powerful channels for building your brand, but it's virtually impossible to be on every platform and do it well.

Instead, choose a maximum of three channels that are ideal for reaching your current and future audience, where you can be consistent and present. Put some thought and planning into it: LinkedIn is the place for your professional brand, while Instagram and Pinterest allow for the opportunity to present your brand values visually. Be mindful about how you engage in social media, and remember to blend your private and professional life with care and attention.

Take the five-day personal brand challenge here!

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