Personal Branding For Dummies
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Any time you seriously want to do some personal branding work, you need to know the opinions of others. Most people would prefer not to know what others really think about them, but in order to build a real brand, you need to collect data from a broader base than just your own personal opinion about yourself. After all, sometimes others perceive you differently than you perceive yourself.

Businesses often use what is called a 360º assessment. The idea is that you gather information from all facets of your workplace, such as your boss, coworkers, subordinates, and administrative staff. These 360º assessments are used to gather information about your performance and behavior at work.

  • Personality descriptors or personal attributes

  • Your skills and abilities

  • Your strengths and weaknesses

  • General comments

The 360Reach assessment

Most 360º assessments obtain feedback about your performance at work or look at your leadership capabilities. While those things are important at work, for the purposes of personal branding, you need to ask different questions. An assessment that works well in the personal branding process is the 360Reach that was designed by Reach Personal Branding.

It’s the leading personal branding assessment that helps you understand your brand from the outside in. The 360Reach provides insights that you might otherwise not be able to gain about yourself.

The 360Reach answers the question “Who are you?” gives you an opportunity to understand how you’re perceived by those around you. It helps you understand your reputation and take action that will help you reach your goals.

360Reach is being used as a development tool in 20 percent of the Fortune 100 companies and has been used by nearly 1 million people. There’s a free version that you can take to gather your raw data, but the full version provides a great, very user-friendly report. You can buy a full report for about $50.

In addition to gathering data about personal attributes, skills, strengths, and weaknesses, the 360Reach contains two projective exercises: questions that seem unrelated but actually gather great insight. There are four questions, from which you choose two to answer:

  • What kind of car would [your name] be?

  • What kind of household appliance would [your name] be?

  • What kind of dog would [your name] be?

  • What kind of cereal would [your name] be?

Conduct a self-analysis

To get a complete picture in a 360º assessment, whether you’re using 360Reach or another online tool, your opinion of yourself needs to be one of the points of input. You would think this step might be the easy part, but often people are especially hard on themselves.

The goal here is for you to look at yourself objectively and give a good evaluation of your strengths, weaknesses, and attributes, as well as to figure out just what kind of household appliance you would be!

Try to have fun with your self-analysis; enter into this process with an open attitude and a clear idea of who you think you are.

Ask for insights from friends and family

Whenever you ask for other people’s opinions, they will want to know that their comments are anonymous. Any 360º assessment tool that you use should have this feature. The 360Reach, for example, is completely anonymous.

The way an online assessment tool works is that you supply names and e-mail addresses, and the company running the assessment reaches out to those people on your behalf. To gain the best results, it’s important that you choose people who know you well enough to answer questions about your top strengths or attributes. Ideally, you need to get 15 to 30 responses.

You’ll get better results if you also send your own e-mail alerting your contacts that this assessment will be coming, that their responses will be anonymous, that it’s something that you really would like them to do, and that you appreciate their honest feedback for your professional development.

You’ll get responses in both the free and paid versions. The paid version neatly organizes the comments and allows you to make more sense of the data.

Get feedback on the job

When you received grades at school, the experience may have been positive or negative. Grades can be an objective evaluation of your work, or they can feel subjective and personal.

The workforce offers its own version of being graded through your annual review. This review can be a scary process because if you get bad grades here, you may lose your job and your income.

The point is that being evaluated is likely an experience you don’t really look forward to. Taking a 360º assessment can bring up those feelings of being judged. Enter into this process with the spirit of professional development and know that this process is one that you control. The feedback is for your use only and allows you to choose how you’ll apply it.

React when people see you differently than you see yourself

One of the biggest surprises in receiving the results of a 360° assessment occurs when what you think of yourself looks different from what others think of you. The 360Reach has a comparison column stating the top attributes that you see in yourself next to the top attributes that others see in you. If you see yourself differently than they see you, you can ask one of two questions:

  • Do I want to be seen more as I see myself?

  • Do I want to be seen as they see me?

When a gap exists between your own view and others’ views of you, chances are that you think less of yourself than others think of you. To close the gap, you must devise a plan so you can start thinking more highly of yourself.

About This Article

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About the book author:

Susan Chritton is a Master Personal Brand Strategist, Executive Career Coach, and Master Career Counselor. She guides professionals looking to engage their authentic self in the world through personal branding. Visit her website at

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