Top ten tips for developing a strong personal brand

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As another year comes to a close, many of us are primed to make resolutions for the New Year. Unlike many resolutions, personal branding is not a goal in itself, but an ongoing commitment that has the potential to produce effective, long term results. Sure, things like getting back to the gym, cutting down on empty calories and being more assertive at work are important, but you’re more likely to reach (and maintain) these goals if they unfold in the bigger picture of your personal brand. Given sufficient time and effort, personal branding can continue to give back year after year. With that said, here are my top ten personal branding tips to get you started in 2015.

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1) Assess your inner brand. What better time to step back and reflect on the state of your personal brand? Knowing who you were in 2014 is an important first step to get you closer to who you want to be in 2015. How would you describe your personal brand? What values, strengths, passions and achievements stood out the most in 2014? Check out this assessment I posted last year to help you reflect on your personal brand in 2014.

2) Understand your brand attributes.  As your personal brand is best seen through eyes of others, it’s important to better understand how others perceive you. What three words might they use to describe you (across family, friends, co-workers, etc)? What three words would you use to describe your ideal self (how you would like to be seen)?  Set (realistic) goals to achieve your ideal attributes and make them known to others.

3) Differentiate yourself. Identify what might differentiate your personal brand from others. Think about what unique traits can set you apart from others over the next year. What strengths or talents have others come to rely on, both personally and professionally? How can you communicate them to others in the New Year?

4) Tap into your passion and purpose. Think about what makes you feel most passionate and when you feel your “personal best”. What opportunities will you have to shine in 2015 and tap into this passion? What activities feel the most meaningful and fulfilling to you? Can you invest in them more directly (e.g., volunteering for a charity, advocating for an organization)?

5) Live by your values. Your personal values are at the very core of your personal brand, kind of like a personal operating system. Do a values assessment for the New Year (see this post for help with this). Determine whether you are living congruently with your values, and how to resolve any discrepancies between your behaviours and your values.

6) Chart a course. Develop realistic and achievable personal goals to give your brand a clearly identified direction. Do you have a “road map” of short, medium and long-term goals to get you there? What would you like more of in your life? What would you like less of?

7) Assess your outer brand. This includes your presence, personal style, lifestyle, communication style and image on social media in 2014. As our outer brand can have a major impact on the way others perceive us, it can sometimes make or break our chance at sharing our personal brands effectively. Take a moment to think about the following: Does your personal style and lifestyle accurately reflect the image you intended to project? Overall, do you feel you had a sense of presence when you walked into a room? Did you effectively communicate your personal brand to a wider audience, including networking or promoting your online presence?

8) Establish presence. For your personal brand to make an impact, it needs to get noticed by others. If your “presence” isn’t as strong as it could be, set goals to improve different areas (e.g., posture, handshake, eye contact, body language, networking skills). Also engage in opportunities to build your presence, both online and off (e.g., attending social activities, benefits, networking events).

9) Make a personal impact.  To have a strong brand, you need to be able to make a positive impression on others, communicate effectively and be memorable. Pay attention to your communication skills and take particular note of volume, speed, tone and pitch. Are you generally getting the reaction you desire from your listeners? Working towards becoming an assertive and confident speaker (even if you aren’t always feeling genuinely confident) is key.

10) Develop your personal style. Everything communicates your brand identity to others, including appearance. Start by doing a wardrobe inventory to assess what it “says” about you. Does it represent the brand you would like to put forward? Is it also right for your age and profession? Add (or subtract) items to develop a brand-consistent personal style. Try adding something unique and memorable (e.g., hairstyle, handkerchief, briefcase, ties, style of glasses). Check out this post for more on this.

Happy New Year from Golden Notebook!



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