In the age of Linkedin, Facebook, YouTube, blogging, etc. almost everyone has a brand in cyberspace. We also have a living brand which is shaped based on our interactions with others.  Whether you know it or not, your colleagues, your clients and your boss all have a perception of your brand. The problem is you may not really know what it is because they may not tell you the truth or more likely you have not bothered to, or have too afraid to ask. Seth Godin states “Many of us are taught to do our best and then let the world decide how to judge us. I think it’s better to do your best and decide how you want to be judged. And act that way.”
So what were you doing when all this branding of you was happening? Personal branding involves taking a strategic and proactive approach to influencing and positioning yourself in the mind of others. In today’s socially networked age, some of the virtues our parents taught us, such as don’t speak until you are spoken to and don’t blow your own horn may hinder our success. It’s no longer enough to work hard, sit back and expect recognition and promotion for a job well done. You need to intentionally create and manage your virtual and real brand.
A personal branding plan enables you to position yourself for recognition by clients, your employer and peers, your industry and beyond. Beyond personal branding, a career brand strategy helps position you to achieve career goals and raise your profile. You must be strategic and disciplined to make this a reality.
For many of us, our personal brand is linked directly to the organization we work for. Because of this, the values and behaviors you project have a positive or negative reflection on your firm and vice-versa. Here are some suggestions to help you evaluate your personal brand. Ask yourself these questions:

  1. What are my top 5 attributes or abilities that set me above the majority of my peers or competitors? (This one’s tough because you have to be objective and realistic. You may need a trusted friend or colleague to help you)
  2. What do I offer my clients that is unique or better then my competitors?
  3. What is my elevator pitch? (Can you articulate your brand position in 30 seconds or less?)
  4. What value do I bring to my organization that makes me more valuable than my colleagues? (Cite specific and measurable accomplishments that can be verified)
  5. Is my “packaging” helping or hindering the way I am perceived and valued? (This refers to the way you dress, communicate, interact and general portray yourself in personal and business situations.)

Bottom line – everything you do, say, write, blog, post or text says something about you your values and what people can expect when dealing with you.  When you are selling your company and your company’s starts with YOU!