Building Your Personal Brand

Bill Gates. Mark Zuckerberg. Oprah Winfrey. What do you think of when you hear these names? Success? Innovation? Charitable contributions? Billionaire?

I first heard the term “personal brand” about four years ago. As a marketer, it made sense to me. You are your own personal brand.

What do people think of when they hear your name? What do you represent? What types of businesses and organizations do you associate yourself with?

I was recently asked to speak on a panel about personal branding, so it was a good time to take a look at mine. Here are a few questions I asked myself:

What is my brand statement?

The first thing I did in my personal branding exercise was develop a brand statement that describes what I represent, the person I am and what I stand for. I had never done anything like this before, so it was a little tougher than I thought it would be. Narrowing it down to a concise statement was very helpful.

What are my values?

Earlier in my career, my mentor, a CEO for an entertainment venue, told me not to jeopardize who I am for a job. My values, or areas I would not compromise, became part of my personal brand.

Integrity, Results-Oriented, Reward and Celebrate, Hard Work, Teamwork, Equality. Whatever you decide for your values, be sure to never waiver. Find a place where you fit in and that shares your values. My mentor encouraged me to look for companies that embraced who I am and what I stand for. Ever heard the term “a good fit”? This is what I think of today.

Who or what do I associate with?

I remember growing up and hearing my parents’ concern when they found out I was hanging out with a particular person or group of people that they didn’t approve of. They were afraid that I would be influenced to make bad choices. Although at the time I felt their opinion was extremely one-sided, I understand now where they were coming from.

Employers or potential employers will look you up online. They may Google you or check out your profiles on LinkedIn, Facebook or Instagram. Be sure that what’s out there accurately portrays who you are. From the nonprofits you support, to the jobs on your resume, to the recommendations you’ve given on LinkedIn, the people and businesses you associate with are a direct reflection of your personal brand.

What am I good at? What is my 30-second elevator pitch?

You only get one chance to make that first impression. Make sure to have your 30-second elevator pitch about yourself in your back pocket. You never know who you might be in the elevator with.

It’s your turn!

Take a few moments now to answer, for yourself, the questions I’ve asked above. Write down your values and craft a brand statement and elevator pitch. Ask a trusted mentor or colleague to review and practice these items with you until you’ve got them down perfectly. Then, own your personal brand. After all, it’s you!