What is it that makes your “product” worth buying? In this case, the “product” is YOU – so in other words: What is it that makes you an attractive job candidate or professional in your industry? Are you a peanut butter and jelly sandwich or are you Beluga caviar?
Professional branding is a growing trend that has gained huge momentum over the past several years. As the economy has generated vigorous competition among job seekers, many are forced to distinguish themselves by carving their unique niche in a constantly changing market place. It’s a good thing that the burgeoning social media landscape has provided ample room for branding opportunities – a trend that continues to grow and transform.
Similar to marketing a chain of hotels or a high-end perfume line, branding begins with a value proposition.
1. Value Proposition: What do you bring to the table in terms of both hard and soft skills? Your value proposition is a summary – generally no longer than a paragraph, that describes your quantifiable benefits. In other words, it is what you bring to the organization – the differentiating factors that make you valuable. Whatever you do in terms of branding yourself, the fundamental message you are conveying with your value proposition is why you are the “goods.”
2. Core Characteristics: In addition to positioning your value, identifying the core elements that distinguish you is a key component to developing your own unique, powerful brand. Once you have done this, you are ready to identify your strategy and create a detailed explanation of the qualities that make your brand worth buying.
3. Brand Critical Marketing Attributes: Using the hotel analogy again, is your service better than the competition? Is your lobby decorated in a way that is more aesthetically pleasing than the one down the block? Are your beds more comfortable? What are the specific features you will promote to entice people to buy?
In the case of an executive level professional, the marketing attributes would obviously be a little different than that of a hotel. Are you a good project manager? And if so, why are you good? Are you known for your leadership style? What is unique about it? Are you exceptional at resolving critical business problems? The descriptive answers to these sorts of questions will serve to further define your brand.
4. Descriptors and Drivers: In addition to identifying the attributes that make you unique, when creating your powerful professional brand, you will also identify the specific business and personal qualities you bring to the table that motivate you to be the best.
5.Target Area/Concentration: In branding yourself, it is important to define your target area. You must be prepared to act as a respected resource within the space where your knowledge and expertise make you a center of knowledge – an industry leader.
Once you have your comprehensive branding strategy in place, the next thing that is required is to get the message out. This is where your social media and live networking strategy will come into play. It is critical to eliminate all conflicting messages that may be on the web already about you, which do not support your new professional brand. Next, you must take action!
Create an online presence. Open a Twitter account, set up a blog, grow your LinkedIN network, join local special interest groups, do some volunteer work for a charitable organization. Building a professional brand takes some work, but it is a strategy that can reap huge rewards to further both your short- and long-term professional aspirations.