Building a personal brand

Alan Ludmer

Branding can be described as many things, but it’s best defined as a promise… a promise of the value of the product… a promise that the product is better than all the competing products… a promise that must be delivered to be successful. Branding is the combination of tangible and intangible characteristics that make a brand unique.

In today’s blog, we will discover that branding is essential to career advancement because branding helps define who you are, how you are great, and why you should be sought out.  Branding is your reputation. Branding is about building a name for yourself, showcasing what sets you apart from others, and describing the added value you bring to a situation.

Basic Tactics

 We start with 5 very basic tactics that can help build your career brand and make you a much more attractive employee or job-seeker. Remember, if you don’t brand yourself, others will for you. And while you may be happy and secure in your job now, you really never know when that will change. We are all the CEOs of our own companies: Me, Inc.

1.  Gain Experience/Track Accomplishments

Building your brand begins with tracking your past accomplishments and gaining strategically important new experiences. Your accomplishments are the foundation of your career brand.

Take the time to plan and focus on what you want your brand to stand for — and develop a strategy for gaining experience in areas of your brand in which you are weak.

If you are employed, ask for new and challenging assignments that will build your brand. Consider freelancing or consulting. Use volunteering to gain experience. If you’re a student, seek out multiple internships.

 2. Complete Education/Training

For many careers, a minimum amount of education is necessary, but to excel in your career you may need to complete additional education, training, or certifications. Getting additional education can greatly enhance your career brand.

 3. Promote Yourself

You can have an amazing brand, but if no one knows about it, you are not going to have much success. Throw modesty out the window.  There is a fine line between bragging and promoting, but it’s always better to err on the side of promoting your brand than not.

 One of the oldest tools of promotion for job-seekers is the resume. Start by listing all your key accomplishments, skills, and education on your resume. You may even have your positioning statement (qualifications summary) on your resume… but don’t stop there.

 Develop two career portfolios — a print one and an online one.. Your portfolio should include all important brand artifacts: resume(s), mission statement, detailed accomplishments list, samples of work, articles and working papers, speech transcripts, awards and honors, testimonials, and more.  Your brand needs to have a strong online presence.  Maximize your social and professional media.

 4. Become an Expert

Nothing builds credibility in a career brand more than establishing yourself as an expert in your field.  Start by writing articles that showcase your knowledge — and getting them published (ideally) in noteworthy media outlets. Consider self-publishing.

 Seek out conferences and meetings where you can give speeches and presentations. Play up awards and other recognition that can help label you an expert.

5. Build Relationships

Thus, nothing is more powerful in building your career brand than what your network of contacts — your friends, colleagues, customers, clients, and former bosses — say about you and your set of skills, education, and accomplishments.

 The best brand-builders don’t stop with their current network; they are in constant network-building mode. Search out new professional associations as well as the growing number of online networking communities.

 Final Thoughts

Once you identify and build your brand, remember to continue strengthening and protecting it. There will always be competing brands (job-seekers) ready to fill any gap you leave behind. You are indeed founder and CEO of Me, Inc., and the more you do to cultivate your career brand, the more successful you’ll be with your current employer and in the job-search.

About the author:

Alan Ludmer is the president of ARL, Inc which specializes in outplacement, career and executive coaching, search/recruitment, corporate marketing and branding.  He is the lead consultant for the Jewish Family & Children Services Lifeline Program.  For more information contact [email protected].