Branding isn’t just for companies and products any more. Its importance has been extended to a company’s greatest asset: its people, specifically to top-ranking professionals that are often the “face” of the organization.
Building a strong personal brand has become a business imperative that is essential on building a strong personal reputation and helping the organization succeed in the marketplace.
Establishing or enhancing a personal brand can help differentiate a professional from the competition and gain an edge in the marketplace – most notably with clients.
Defining a “personal brand” is quite simple – it means sharing the wealth of knowledge and business insights a professional has with others in a particular market and or industry. These aren’t elements that are made up or hatched together – they exist already within each professional. But they need to be extracted, shaped, and defined so that the market can better recognize and understand the attributes of a personal brand.
In virtually every industry, having and deploying a personal brand can make or break making a new connection or landing the next big business opportunity. With so much parity that exists in the marketplace, at times, it can be difficult to distinguish one organization and executive from the next. That’s where personal branding comes into play to help differentiate the clutter, and provide a connection with clients – current and future.
Creating a Personal Brand
Professionals should consider four key elements when creating a personal brand to ensure it works for the near and long term.
Get Out There
Be seen and be heard – professionals should be involved with organizations that align with professional and charitable interests. Nothing can replace the personal interaction that can cement a personal brand and leave a lasting positive impression. In a short amount of time, a professional and personal network will grow and blossom, and the first step of developing a personal brand is well under way.
Learn & Go
Stay abreast of local, regional, national, and international news and current events to decipher how it impacts a particular industry, and clients alike. Take advantage of the news and be the first to comment and share it with others. Make it a daily habit to check the news feed, subscribe to various news alerts to know when news break, and be thoughtful on what impact, if any, it may have on a particular industry.
Social media should be embraced and leveraged on establishing a personal brand. Various platforms are available and the most widely used enables users to provide real-time updates with a touch of a smart phone app. It may look daunting and confusing, but it’s also one of the best tactics to establish a personal brand for others to view. Professionals should think of it as a digital business card, it shares everything about a professional by just one quick click. The various social media platforms will allow professionals to connect with colleagues, clients, other thoughts leaders and also serve as a conduit to share a message with the rest of the market.
However, professionals should be mindful on what is expressed and shared – in other words, be smart – think about the content and meaning of the message before pressing send.
Invest, Invest, Invest
In order to have a meaningful personal brand, a professional needs to invest time to the process of creating and nurturing a brand to solidify business relationships now and in the future. Don’t delegate the creation of a personal brand to another individual – that’s one of the biggest mistakes a professional can make. Instead, seek counsel from others around, take ownership, and leverage the experience from others that have gone down this path before.
Like anything worth having, invest a bit of time up front. Be mindful that things will not happen overnight. It can take time to gain traction, but the work and effort will be well worth it.
Creating a personal brand is a tremendous way to establish credibility, expertise, and trust. Professionals should seize the opportunity to implement a personal brand – because it works. Embrace the concept on establishing a personal brand, and share it with the market and most importantly with clients. Just remember, the competition is probably already working on creating their brand, and it’s never too late to start one.
Sonia Fisher is the Director of Markets and Accounts at the Houston office of KPMG. www.kpmg.com
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