By Carlos Bolívar, Co-Owner & Business Development Manager.
Internet’s exponential growth and, more specifically, social networks and personal and business promotion media development, has lead to the birth or re-definition of a marketing concept known as personal branding. Actually, this concept is not new. It would be more accurate to say that this concept was not previously named the proper way neither such a massive information about it was generated. Guides, techniques, information and advises on personal branding invade Internet in such a way that filtering and finding the most important subjects become really difficult.
That is, consequently, the aim of this post: keeping the most important issues and understanding correctly the concept by making it ours, in such a way that we all can design our own tools and the personal branding broadcasting methods that fit us better.
First of all, what is the personal branding? We could sum this up in an incredibly simple way: the image the external world perceive from you. What has been always known as reputation: the mixing of characteristics, values, motivations and strengths that define you and distinguish your value from the competitors’ and, furthermore, that allow prospects to determine if they must do business with you or not.
That being said, let’s outline the required steps in order to build and design a strong personal branding image that really works:
1) Define View & Aim. This is, identifying what has to be improved or solved (View) and what you must do to achieve this (Aim). What does the market need? How can you provide the market with it and by means of what? Which are the steps to take in order to meet that demand?
2) Identify Your Characteristics, Values, Motivations and Strengths. Which values drive you, which characteristics define you as a professional, which are your motivations for the future and which are the main standing out strengths in your personal way of doing things and seeing the world. In this sense, highlight your favorite 3 or 4 items in every category. Be clear about which are the most important ones. In this respect and above all else (even if this is a subject affecting every level to be taken into account when designing the personal branding), accuracy is key. Pick well the terms you feel identified with and be sure about their real meaning. An accurate use of the language is essential when you try to identify yourself. Being able to take risks is not the same than being risky, for example. Subtle connotations play a key role when building an inspiring confidence branding.
3) Analyse Targets. Set your aims, enclose the market you want to address to and measure your position against your competitors’. This is: set the position you want to fit in, what is required in that market niche and how you can structure your personal branding with keywords and contents in order to attract the prospects in a way that makes you different from what they already have. Perform a SWOT analysis including internal characteristics (Strengths & Weaknesses), reflecting your potential value, and external characteristics (Opportunities & Threats), helping you to foresee what’s next to face in your professional career.
4) Step into action. Take the above conclusions into practice, in the form of communication. Communicate yourself in a genuine and consistent way. Have this in mind: everything has a positive or negative effect. According to the book The Effective Communication, by Lair Ribeiro, the ability to influence people is represented by these percentages:
7 % Verbal Communication (what I say)
38 % Tone of Voice (how I say it)
55 % Body Language or Attire (the visual side)
For example, regarding social networks, this scheme would change. The tone and attire would have less presence and the verbal communication would play a much more important role. Again, I will insist in the importance of an impeccable verbal communication in every single sense: tone, language issues, terminology, writing agility, recap ability and proper language, etc. In this sense, some essential recommendations would be:
– Mince your words: think well what you will say and if it might offend someone.
– Adapt your message: the key is not expressing yourself in an elevated and pompous tone, but making your message reach who you want it to.
– Take care of spelling, of the writing of your contents and avoid an excessive use of capital letters.
– Avoid declaring yourself in polemic subjects: you always risk to lose those prospects who do not agree with your stances.
– To the extent possible, transmit positive messages.
– Credit the original authors of your statements, if any; do not take other people’s reflections as yours.
5) Assess and Adjust. Performing a constant assessing and adjusting is essential. Reading between the lines, interpreting other people’s feedback, analysing the results objectively in order to remodel and rebuild those facets in your branding that are weaker or less effective, etc. We can sum it up as a action/reaction process. Adapt yourself on a constant basis but do not give the fundamentals of your branding up. Transmitting randomization or disorder is not the aim, on the contrary: the aim is broadcasting strong messages by being also aware that everything is improvable and adaptable to the needs of a constantly growing market.
6) Patience. The power of your branding falls directly on your ability to influence, not on your ability to push on. Therefore, turn to the less trodden paths and remember that building a really strong and effective personal branding requires time, method, effort and patience. Perform a correct management of the perceptions, memories and expectations you want to create on the rest of the people, but do it with conscience and self-criticism.
To read more about these and other issues regarding the personal branding, you can visit 60 consejos prácticos para mejorar tu imagen de marca personal (in Spanish), by Myriam Rius, Digital Communication Specialist and Business Consultant, here, a primary reference guide for the writing of this post. You can also visit her website where you will find more interesting contents about this particular subject (in Spanish).
To conclude my post, we can certainly affirm that your personal branding could be reduced to, roughly speaking, six main characteristics: authenticity, peculiarity, visibility, attention to detail, coherence and view of the future.
And, above all else, have always in mind the famous key principle of the personal branding that you may find in any blog or post about the subject: the market looks for you thanks to what you’re offering (product), but it picks you because you’re reliable and attractive (brand).