C-Level executives may find it tempting to mimic other executives when it comes to personal branding, and that’s a mistake. Great personal brands are founded on uniqueness. Luckily, it’s simple to begin building your personal brand with some good information and an honest look at your goals and resources. Patrick Sitkins is a brand strategist who works with midsized and large businesses, and he has a few ideas that might help. Here are some easy ways to audit and begin building your personal brand.
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What Makes You Compelling?
Why should anyone do business with you opposed to someone else? If you are a midsized business you are going against the bigger guys. You need to give your customers a reason to choose you. Self-evaluation questions are hard, but powerful. When developing a personal brand plan William Arruda suggests that you should ask yourself:
- What makes me great?
- What makes me unique?
- What makes me compelling?
You may not have a perfect answer for these, but you should try your best to answer them. The answers will evolve as you think about them over time and become clearer. After you develop a few initial thoughts, consider talking with a trusted colleague about your brand and ask their opinion. This can give you a valuable perspective. I have had dozens of professionals ask me this. It may seem odd at first, but just explain what you are doing, and that you would value their advice. You’ll find that they are happy to help.
As I have written before, Google yourself and make notes on what you find — the good, the bad, and the ugly. Also, search yourself on Bing and Yahoo. You will want to see who else is talking about you, too. How are you portrayed on social media? What’s good and bad about what you find? Here are a few more places to see what people are saying about you:
- Social Mention
- Real-time social media search and analysis
- Social Searcher
- Search Facebook, Twitter, Google Plus, MySpace, LinkedIn
- Customized Google searches for Twitter, LinkedIn,Youtube, Facebook, Myspace, LinkedIn . Plaxo, Bebo, Tumblr, Livejournal, and Flickr
Find Role Models
Next, find people to emulate — but take care to emulate correctly. Look at your competitors, your peers and people who give you value. Ask yourself what they’re doing. How can you replicate that in your own space?
A great tool for this is LinkedIn. Look at your profile’s “People Also Viewed” listing. Often it will be profiles of colleagues at your company. However, you might see peers from another company. Is there something exceptional about how they present themselves? Use LinkedIn’s advanced search title and keyword options to find more peers that inspire how you will brand yourself.
Look to the Future
What do you want your personal brand to represent? What are your goals for tomorrow, five days from now, five weeks, five years? How do you want people in your life and your business to see you? Once you understand where you’re headed, you’ll be able to put together an action plan that makes sense.
Do a Gap Analysis
Now that you know what you want, assess what you’re doing right now. Be honest with yourself. Is it getting you toward your goals, or is your social media actually more suited toward a small-time personal blogger than a successful executive? Are you trying to achieve celebrity status instead of leaning into your strengths?
Don’t Jump in Without a Plan
You have kept notes on what needs fixing, and what others are doing that project the image you want to project. Now that you understand your strengths and weaknesses, it’s time to put together a plan. Think about where you said you wanted to be in the future and conduct a “build and break” plan that will help you work toward that future plan. What articles, videos, and other content do you need to get from point A to point B? Build backward with a plan and remember — never jump in without a clear idea of what you’re doing.
* This was based in part on an interview I had with Patrick Sitkins (@PatrickSitkins). Patrick is a business branding expert and co-author of Brand Aid: Taking Control of Your Reputation — Before Everyone Else Does (with Larry G. Linne). You can watch the full interview here:
About The Author
Steve Farnsworth is a Demand Generation Strategist for The @Steveology Group: A Content Marketing agency that drive sales and dominate markets for high tech B2B. You can contact Steve or connect with him on Twitter as @Steveology.
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