To some people the concept of “Professional Branding” sounds intimidating, unobtainable, or even unimportant. To many people it is a foreign subject that is complete mystery and they just don’t know how to start. And to the rest of the world, it is the foundation for not only gaining a career but to streamlining the job search process.
“Professional Branding” is the process of creating an image for yourself through a myriad of tactics, whether by utilizing social media, designing a theme that is repeated on all your online and offline materials, controlling the way you network with people, how you convey messaging through blogging, or any other way people come into contact with you or your ideas. To obtain a solid professional brand people have to produce a certain image that is unique and special to people in some way.
In many ways it is like a company that has a strong brand. When you hear a company name, or see a trademark image belonging to that brand, you have certain feelings and emotions (negative or positive) that you consciously (or subconsciously) have that makes you identify with that company in a specific way. Companies often spend millions of dollars (Nike, Coke, GM, etc.) in an effort to make you feel a specific way about their brand.
As an individual, you need to spend some resources (time and money) in generating a specific brand so that when people see your image, meet you in person, or read about you they get a specific feeling about you that matches how you want them to feel. What can you do to generate that “Professional Branding” and have a positive influence on them?
In an article by Eric Bloom, it provides some basic branding questions that will help you understand your current brand:
- Are you good to work with or difficult to be around?
- Are you professionally competent or is the work you do considered low quality?
- Are you a hard worker or like to take the easy way out?
- Are you willing to help others or are you only trying to help yourself?
- Are you a person who can be trusted or should people always watch their backs when working with you?
- Are you humble or overconfident?
- Are you open to or resistant to change?
- Are you a natural leader or a natural follower?
Eric says “Answers to these questions and questions like them can have a profound effect, both positive and negative, on your professional career.”
So what is a person supposed do to build a professional brand? It is really the same steps companies do all the time. You have to make sure anything written by or about you all have the same branding. News articles, blog entries, LinkedIn posts, etc. all need to include the same basic (positive) information about you. That should include your biographical information, the way your name is spelled, the pictures used, etc. When you see the brands for corporations, the images of the corporate logo are always produced with the same font, colors, proportions, etc. They control everything about the brand, including how and when it is used.
Keep you private life private, and your professional life public. It shouldn’t be a mystery what you are good at doing and why you are so good at those things. Your recent vacation and meal selections should be a mystery to the public. Never say anything controversial as your professional brand. Keep your brand professional, focused, and positive. You can find some basic tips here.