Everything you do in life -- from the way you dress to the car you buy, from the friends you see to the club you belong, from the notes you write to the way you speak -- either builds or diminishes your personal brand. Below are ten suggestions for building a stronger personal brand.
One: Become an expert source. Deliver a speech, write a bylined article, and become an expert source for reporters. Make sure you have a current photo, bio, resume, and speaker introduction.
Two: Become a great communicator. Research shows communications skill is the top determinant for upward social and professional mobility. Join Toastmasters or hire a communications coach to ensure that your written and verbal skills are at their best.
Three: Draft a marketing plan for yourself annually, and review it quarterly. Include specific goals, strategies, action steps, and a timetable.
Four: Develop an 'elevator speech." Within the time that it takes an elevator to travel one floor -- about 60-seconds -- be able to deliver a succinct description of what you do, how you do it differently, and the benefit it provides.
Five: Build your Rolodex. Make new business contacts and stay in touch with them. Most people with powerful brands have powerful friends.
Six: Realize that your boss can be your most powerful ally -- or enemy -- in building your brand. Be loyal and never speak ill of him or her -- to anyone. We should make our bosses look good, and help them build their own brands.
Seven: Dress for the job you want, not the job you have. Balance your individual style with clothing that will appeal to those you are trying to impress.
Eight: Become a class act. Learn good business and social etiquette. Buy elegant personal stationery and send hand-written notes. Know how to order a good bottle of wine in a fine restaurant and drink it sparingly during dinner. (Remember, alcohol and branding seldom mix.)
Nine: Select "significant" significant others. Who you date or who you marry affects your brand. John Hancock CEO David F. D'Alessandro in his book Career Warfare: 10 Rules for Building a Successful Personal Brand and Fighting to Keep It, suggests that single people not take their dates to company events. If they do, they will be judged by the outcome of every romance.
Ten: Give something back. Giving your time, talent, and money to charitable causes is a brand-builder especially when it complements your brand strategy. Find a cause you are passionate about. When I was in public relations, I wanted to be known for my creativity. By limiting my community involvement to arts organizations I was able to reinforce my personal brand. Not only did my involvement in the arts benefit my career, I enjoyed the work. I still do.
Your personal brand is one of your greatest business assets. Nurture your brand and you will nurture your career.
"The Career Engineer" Randy Siegel works with organizations to take high-potential employees and give them the leadership and communications skills they need to be successful as they rise through the organization.
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