CommentaryMay 17th, 2018

Build Your Personal Brand to Define and Enhance Your Professional Reputation


If you work for a living, your personal brand is essential. Whether you’re in line for a promotion or you want to look for a new job, expand your network, or obtain new clients, your brand precedes you. It defines your reputation and how you’re perceived.

Jeff Bezos once said,

“Your brand is what other people say about you when you’re not in the room.”

Whether or not you realize it, you already have a brand. Do you know what it is? If you don’t define it yourself, someone else will do it for you. Taking the time to build and nurture your personal brand is worth the effort. People will associate you with success if you elevate your brand the right way.

You’ll stand out from your peers, get well-deserved recognition from employers, make more contacts, and ultimately, earn more money. The process of building a personal brand is similar to building a company brand. It requires self-analysis plus uncensored external feedback. Here are a few tips.

Identify your purpose and passion

What’s your purpose in life? This is different than defining your career goals. If you won the lottery and never had to work again, what would you do with your life? Your purpose is why you work. It’s the reason you get out of bed every morning.

Hopefully, your purpose is loftier than just paying the bills every month. Identify your passions if you’re unsure of your purpose. Your passions energize you and make you attractive to others. What’s your favorite thing to do and talk about? If you have a passion in life, make that your purpose. We’re all working for something greater than ourselves.

Identify your vision, mission statement, and core values

Where do you want to go? That’s your vision. Part of every company’s business plan is to lay out a vision of where they want to be in two, five, or 10 years. Do the same with your career goals. How will you get there? That’s your mission statement. It’s useful to study mission statements from some of the top brands such as Amazon, Microsoft, Zappos, and Apple.

Keep in mind that the only way to get to where you want to go is by helping others in some way. Your core values are how you will be perceived. You probably need external input on this one. Too often people and companies choose values that they want to embody. If those values are not true to who you are, you won’t be perceived as authentic. Embrace your best values, whether you’re an aggressive closer or a passive helper.

Identify your differentiator

What do you better than anyone else? Find your unique talent and don’t be afraid to promote it. Are you detail-oriented and good with paperwork? Are you good at helping people find the right car for them versus the car they thought they wanted? Do you have a great sense of humor? What do people remember most about you? If you’re mentioned in any online reviews, read what other people have to say about you. Ask a few trusted friends to be candid with you. You may be surprised at their answers.

Get to know your customers

Building a brand cannot be accomplished with a “me” persona. You have to find out what is important to your customers. What do they value most in a sales or service experience? Get to know your customers by talking to them, and even more importantly, listening to their answers.

What are their beliefs, values, hopes, dreams, and challenges? Also, think about your best customers. Do you tend to appeal to a certain type of customer and if so, why? Identify their ages, jobs, where they live, and how much they earn. Building a customer profile will make it easier for you to connect with new customers.

Summarize your brand in a statement

Once all this groundwork is done, it’s time to crystallize the elements into a single statement. Write an elevator pitch for yourself. Just make sure it’s not all about you. Tell a brief story that highlights your values, results, and how you’re helping others.

A company’s brand message defines the experience that customers have at that place of business. A person’s brand defines the experience your customers, partners, or employers will have while interacting with you. What is your brand promise? Once you define it, it’s important to always deliver on this promise.

Promote your brand

Once you feel confident about your brand promise, it’s time to promote it. These days, that likely involves social media. You don’t have to be everywhere; in fact, it’s better to choose one or two platforms and really rock your presence, versus having a watered-down presence across five different channels.

Choose the channels where you will be able to reach your target audience — for example, LinkedIn if it’s a prospective employer, or perhaps Facebook or Instagram if you’re trying to reach customers. The best way to promote yourself is to not promote yourself, but to provide content and information that’s valuable to your target audience.

Nurture relationships

Your brand cannot exist without the support of others. Who are your best brand ambassadors? Whose personal brands do you support? Personal and professional relationships enrich your life, but they must be genuine. Always give without expectation of return and pay it forward constantly.

Remember that even though the process of building a brand is introspective, your brand is not about you. Your brand is about the value that you provide to others. To keep your brand message consistent, pin it in a place where you will see it every day. Before you know it, whenever you leave a room and people start talking about you, they will be promoting your brand for you.

Bill Wittenmyer is a partner at ELEAD1ONE, a leading vendor of automotive software and CRM solutions. Bill has more than 20 years of experience in automotive, and oversees multiple divisions within the organization, including sales, marketing, OEM relationships, and large-client accounts. Highly regarded as a dynamic and motivational speaker, as well as a leader with nontraditional views, Bill has presented at numerous automotive forums and contributes to top news publications in the industry. Prior to ELEAD1ONE, Bill held various positions in retail automotive operations management. He earned his degree from Ashland University and took post-graduate courses at Georgia Southern University.

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