Branding For Dummies
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There’s a reason personal branding is a priority of the most successful people you know. Those who achieve their goals and ascend to the top of their fields benefit from highly regarded reputations — personal brands — that pave the way for their success.

You’re not making your personal goals

Personal branding is how you manage your reputation and interactions to develop positive images in the minds of those you want to influence. It does so in two ways:

  • Personal branding creates an internal force: Through the personal branding process you figure out what you’re best at and how you want to be perceived by others.

  • Personal branding creates an external force: Through personal branding, you help others form good first and lasting impressions about who you are and what you stand for, your expertise, your unique benefits and value, and what they can count on you to do best.

You think personal branding sounds self-absorbed

Intentionally or not, you have a personal brand. It’s whatever people believe about who you are and what you stand for based on what they’ve personally experienced, what they’ve heard from others, or what they’ve seen online.

If you think the term personal branding sounds somehow self-centered, call it reputation management instead. Either way, it’s essential to your success.

Through personal branding, you positively affect the beliefs about you that arise in the minds of others when they encounter you or your name.

You can’t say what you’re best at

Personal branding begins with knowledge about what you want people to believe about you and what, in fact, they currently believe. Take these steps:

  • List five words you’d like associated with your image.

  • Look through recent compliments, testimonials, endorsements, and recommendations for words others use when describing your strengths.

  • Ask people you know and work with to name the first five words that come to mind when they think of you.

Search results for your name are few and far between

These facts are essential in this roundup of personal branding motivations:

  • Google handles more than a billion name searches daily.

  • Nine of 10 job recruiters use social networks to find candidates, and three of four check search results and social-media profiles.

  • Nearly everyone now gathers information online or through word-of-mouth when pursuing personal or business relationships.

Check yourself out:

  • Do you own the all-important first search result for your name?

  • Do you dominate the first page of results, with links to positive content all the way down the page?

Links to your name are dated, or worse

If you don’t like how you look online, consider this advice:

  • Lack of online presence: Start by launching a personal blog or website and creating profiles on major social-media networks, as both appear prominently in search results.

  • Outdated, irrelevant, or embarrassing online presence: Make development of links to current, favorable content part of your personal branding program.

Make all links findable by using one version of your name everywhere.

You freeze up when it’s time to introduce yourself

If you draw a blank when you have a chance to introduce yourself, you’re missing out on the only chance you’ll have to make a great first impression. Cover these points:

  • What you do and for whom, using keywords or terms people are likely to use when searching for people like you

  • A sense of the kind of information and expertise people can count on receiving from you

  • A sense of your personality

  • A thought-provoking, interesting, likeable indication of why you’re credible, trustworthy, and worth associating with

To be ready for any situation, prepare your personal introduction in several forms:

  • A 30-second introduction you can use face-to-face

  • A 160-character, 20-word introduction you can use to win interest and convey who you are on social-media pages and other online sites

  • 50-, 100-, and 500-word versions of your introduction you can rapidly select from to share when appropriate

Your connection invitations get ignored

Give thought to these questions:

  • What do people think when they meet you or see or hear your name?

  • What do they learn if they ask around or search for your name online?

  • What do they see if they look at your social-media pages?

  • What impression do they get from their first contact with you?

You aren’t sure which to promote: Your personal or your business brand

The following questions will help you decide if you need to pay special attention to boosting the visibility and strength of either your personal or your business brand:

  • Assessing your personal brand: If your personal brand isn’t well-defined and transportable, it needs work.

  • Assessing your business brand: If your personal brand is so strong that people know and trust you more than your business, your business brand needs attention.

You need but don’t know how to ask for referrals and recommendations

Good words from respected and trustworthy sources can be key to success. Request recommendations, following these steps:

  • Tell why you’re reaching out and the reason you’re asking for a recommendation. This gives your request context, allows you to share a compliment, and conveys that the request is carefully targeted.

  • Tell what kind of recommendation you’re hoping to receive. This saves the request recipient time and guides development of a recommendation that suits your needs.

  • State your timeline. This makes your request clear and mutually beneficial.

You want more awareness, credibility, and recognition in your field

Personal goals are the best reason of all to kick your personal branding efforts into high gear. Get specific about what you want to accomplish, how you want to be known, and the strategy you’ll follow to differentiate yourself, develop awareness, win credibility and trust, and gain the reputation and influence that affects your success in every aspect of your life.

About This Article

This article is from the book:

About the book authors:

Bill Chiaravalle served as Creative Director with world-renowned brand strategy and design firm Landor Associates before founding Brand Navigation, which has been honored with numerous branding, design, and industry awards. Barbara Findlay Schenck is a nationally recognized marketing specialist and the author of several books, including Small Business Marketing Kit For Dummies.

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