When I was in college, after my first year on campus, I ran for student body president. My strategy was to walk around and talk to everyone about my ideas: in the cafeterias, in the library, even walking up and down Thayer St. I didn’t win, but the strategy proved to be pretty successful over the subsequent years. My network was large and I had spoken to so many people, that they knew what I was about. As a result, I was often consulted for activities or admitted to classes in which my colleagues knew I was interested. I had built my first “personal brand,” and I learned pretty quickly that it served me well.
What do I mean by personal brand? A personal brand is a way of consistently representing yourself to the outside world so that others know exactly who you are. Your values, interests, and even stances on various issues are all part of the way you present or market yourself to the outside world. If you consider commercial brands that are well known, it’s probably because their marketing team has done an outstanding job of making that brand memorable.
The idea is to do the same with your personal brand. This brand is helpful in shaping an identity, and can come in handy if you are establishing yourself in a new job, company or industry. Building that brand means sending a consistent message, discussing your ideas and seeking advice from a wide array of mentors and sponsors. This can be within the confines of your professional existence at work, or cross the boundaries of the professional/personal divide. Once your brand is established, people will begin to associate you with certain activities or ideologies.
Some people worry about getting pigeon-holed or stereotyped. What if I am only associated with that one message? But people need something to latch onto. If you want to be memorable, stick to your guns. Understand that most of the people you interact with will assume that you have more than one dimension. It’s also permissible to go “off-brand” every once in a while (otherwise you probably aren’t a real human being). Building a personal brand also means that you can become the go-to person for something very quickly – something that can catapult careers at a young age.
My success in building a person brand has been being vocal about my beliefs and sharing my thoughts broadly. Blogging and Tweeting have helped as well, but there are many strategies that can be successful. Tweet @ me if you have additional ideas about how to craft and perfect your personal brand.