Why are people willing to spend thousands on Coach bags, Apple iPods, Motorola handphones, and other such "branded" goods? That is the power of branding. Branded goods are in demand, and people will pay a premium for them, because they carry with them a promise of consistently high quality and value – and keep that promise.
However, branding isn't just for products anymore. Cultivating your personal career brand – your reputation - can help to make you a more attractive and sought-after employee or job candidate. Explore some key tactics of building your own personal brand to achieve success in your chosen career.
Maximize your experience
Your experience and accomplishments form the basis of your brand. Start by taking some time to plan and focus on what you want your brand to be. Then review your past accomplishments and determine how they fit into your personal brand. Find out if there are areas where you need to improve, and take up new and challenging assignments at work – or consider freelancing and consulting - to gain the required experience. Students can pursue internships in related fields.
Fill in any knowledge gaps
Education is necessary for success in many careers. You may find that in order to get your brand to where you want it, you need more training or education. Although it may initially make demands on your time and money, education definitely pays off in the long run. Find out if your company provides any benefits that will at least partially pay for you to further your education. Also, seek out opportunities around your company to attend seminars and other career-enhancing training courses.
Become an expert in your field
Expertise lends credibility to your career brand. Write articles that showcase your knowledge and contribute to trade journals within your industry as well as the mass media. Volunteer to give presentations and speeches at meetings and conferences to make yourself a familiar face around your company and industry.
As more and more people are turning to the Internet to find information, maintaining a professional blog to publish your writings and presentations online is a good way to build credibiltiy that can extend offline as well.
How have companies like Coca-Cola, McDonalds and Nike built world-class brands that rise above their many competitors? Advertising. You can have the most amazing brand, but if no one knows about it, you won't get very far. You are your own best promoter, so make the most of yourself.
The most important self-promotion item you have is your resume. Make sure your resume reflects your most current accomplishments, skills and education, as well as any awards and accolades that you've earned. Consider creating a Facebook or Myspace to post your resume, mission statement, and achievements online and create an Internet presence for yourself; don't overlook this valuable opportunity to reach a worldwide audience.
Word of mouth is one of the most important keys to building your personal brand. Maintain good contact with your network of friends, colleagues, clients, and former bosses, and keep them informed of your recent successes. Don't forget to seek out network-building opportunities as well - join professional associations and reputable online communities to expand your network of contacts.
Also, don't forget to promote yourself at work by being a star performer. However, never depend solely on your boss to keep track of your accomplishments. Make sure you keep your own records of your achievements and have the up-to-date list ready at every performance review. Also, look out for opportunities throughout the year to remind your boss - and his or her boss(es) - of your successes.
Once you have built your brand, make sure to keep working on strengthening it. As management guru Tom Peters states in his book The Brand You 50: Or: Fifty Ways to Transform Yourself from an "Employee" into a Brand That Shouts Distinction, Commitment, and Passion!: “We are the CEOs of our own companies: Me, Inc.” Everyone is a "Me, Inc." in the making, so you'll always need to stay ahead of the competition. The stronger you make your brand, the more success you'll gain in your current and future career.