How Personal Branding Can Save You From the Recession
Charlotte Huff, Deliver Magazine

Many marketers focus so much on their clients’ interests that they shortchange a potentially top-shelf brand — their own.

While you don’t need to launch a company or hire a public relations specialist to elevate your own personal brand, you do have to understand what makes you and your work unique — even if it requires some soul searching.

“In this economy, it’s crucial for people to figure out who they are and what their brand is,” says Rachel Weingarten, author of Career and Corporate Cool and founder of marketing company Octagon Strategy Group.

Personal branding — the process whereby people and their careers are marked as brands — seemingly comes in as many flavors as ice cream, but three recurring themes and stratagems have emerged:

Expand your expertise: Increase the value of your personal brand by finding every opportunity within your current position to expand your skill set and knowledge base. You know the basics regarding search engine optimization and search engine marketing, along with analytics and the rapidly proliferating social media venues. But you should always be boosting and honing your expertise, particularly in regard to offline-online synergy.

“The marketing future will belong to people who understand how to cross pollinate direct mail with the Web and other forms of marketing vehicles, and then make it all work together,” says Gary Hennerberg, president of Hennerberg Group Inc., which specializes in analytics consulting and copywriting.

Boost your visibility: Broaden your expertise and you’ll also organically increase your visibility, says Liz Lynch, author of Smart Networking: Attract a Following in Person and Online and founder of the Center for Networking Excellence. To complement that process, launch a blog to comment on marketing trends. Worried your employer won’t embrace this new side of you? Check first if your company has a policy on personal blogs, and then sell in the idea. But as long as you focus on building thought leadership and sharing information rather than bragging — or, worst of all, trafficking in information that might reflect negatively on your employer — you should be relatively safe. For example, you could blog about a recent survey on variable data printing and then describe a few successful campaigns, Lynch says.

Most branding strategies shouldn’t hurt you at the office, agrees Scott Couvillon, president of Dukky, a New Orleans–based direct response marketing firm. “A lot of companies are certainly appreciative of people who have a following because it elevates the stock of what they are doing,” he says.

Protect your brand: Building the relevant expertise will require an investment, including reading books and blogs during your “off” time. As you start acquiring a branded expertise, be sure to protect it, says Dan Schawbel, author of Me 2.0: Build a Personal Brand to Achieve Career Success. Online reputation management is crucial, he says. Has someone praised one of your articles? Reach out and make a networking connection. Conversely, use online search tools to intercept damaging rumors or misconceptions. “You can stop these fires before they spread,” Schawbel says.

Schawbel’s own story illustrates that it’s feasible to build a personal profile, even while working for someone else. In his off hours, Schawbel developed his own personal brand, which started with a blog, followed later by his launch of Personal Branding, a paid subscription online magazine.

Not long after, an executive approached Schawbel about a job the company was creating: social media specialist. Seems they’d become aware of, and impressed with, his entrepreneurial branding activities. “They brought me right in — I got the position without applying,” he says.

Treating your résumé as your own personal advertisement

Don’t Use a bland objective statement at the top detailing the type of position you seek. For example: “To obtain a position in direct mail marketing through which I can use my skills in media operations to improve a company’s client base and bottom line.” Yawn.

Do Talk about what you will bring. Write a targeted profile summary, describing what skills and value you would provide a future employer.

Don’t Use vague and vanilla-style descriptors, such as “team player” or “people person.”

Do Be specific, emphasizing results. Use language like “Consistently recognized as a top performer, as evidenced by the ability to leverage team resources to deliver 100 percent of projects on time and on budget.”

Don’t Give your accomplishments short shrift by cramming them onto one page (but do keep the document to a maximum of two pages). And don’t omit key dates, such as your college graduation year. If you leave them out, the potential employer wonders what’s missing.

Do Toot your own horn — when there’s something worth tooting about. If you led the team that increased ROI by 20 percent, then say so. It’s not bragging, if it’s true and supported by information.

---Source: Deliver Magazine July 2009 ( Deliver is a USPS® publication.









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