Market yourself

The Straits Times
Published: 14 Sept 2013
By Ronald Lee, Managing Director, PrimeStaff Management Services

 
Whether you are a job seeker or an entrepreneur, a great personal branding strategy will help you stand out from the competition
 
What do entrepreneurs, job seekers and employees have in common?

The fact that “personal branding” is important for each of them to get ahead in their business or career.

Those in the market for a new job certainly need to sell their “brand” to target employers.

And if you are gainfully employed, marketing yourself well to your superiors will help you snag that promotion you have been eyeing.

Business owners need to brand not only their products and services but themselves too to secure more business and build their empire.

Think of real-estate magnate Donald Trump and his myriad businesses that carry his name, from Trump Vodka to Trump Steaks.

According to Forbes magazine, the Trump brand was estimated to be worth US$200 million (S$255 million) in 2011.

 
What’s in a brand?

Personal branding is more than just advertising your skills and abilities.

It is the sum total of everything that is unique about you, from your physical appearance to your professional achievements – all packaged as a distinguishable asset that leaves an indelible impression.

Get started on your own personal branding makeover with these 10 tips.

1. Google yourself

We recommend this as your starting point because the Internet is the first place that your superiors or prospective employers and clients will turn to in order to find out more about you.

They will be looking for reasons to eliminate you as a prospect. So before they dig up any dirt on you, trawl the Web to find and annihilate any skeletons hiding in your Internet closet that you may have forgotten about.

 

2. Get a great headshot

If you don’t already have one, you will need to take a fantastic photo of yourself decked out in professional work wear.

Get it professionally done in a studio with perfect lighting and digital enhancements.

Seeing a great headshot that exudes professionalism and poise may make people more inclined to hire you or do business with you.

 

3. Create your own personal MVV

All successful organisations have powerful and clearly worded Mission, Vision and Value (MVV) statements. So should you.

Ask yourself what your ultimate mission – your purpose – in life is, what your vision for your life looks like, and what do you stand for.

More importantly, how do these align with your chosen career path?

Your brand is a projection of you and you can only communicate this to the world effectively when you have a deep understanding of yourself.

 

4. Manage your online reputation

This is related to my first point. Everyone has an “Internet presence” that lives on in perpetuity in cyberspace.

Actively manage your presence by deleting any undesirable content.

Watch what you post on Facebook, even if you think your privacy settings are as impenetrable as Fort Knox.

You never know who might know one of your “friends” and they can easily view your profile through your mutual friend’s account.

Do not post any unsavoury photos such as shots of your drunken nights out.

 

5. Get linked

On LinkedIn, that is. The social media site for professionals is a must-have for anyone who cares about his career.

It is a powerful tool that is widely used by recruiters and could connect you with prospective employers instantly.

Besides keeping your profile up-to-date with your career movements and achievements, be active on it. Join the professional groups related to your industry and initiate discussions on hot topics related to your area of expertise.

 

6. Create a professional blog

Use a professional blog as a platform to showcase your knowledge; it will set you apart from your peers and position you as a thought leader in your field.

You can also use the blog to broadcast your career highlights and achievements.

 

7. Write a guest column

Build on the previous point by writing analysis pieces and contributing these articles to the company newsletter or, better still, get them published in magazines relevant to your trade.

This will instantly boost your profile and visibility in industry circles.

 

8. Keep up-to-date

To be a thought leader, you need to be at the forefront of the latest developments in your field.

Take every opportunity to attend seminars and professional events to upgrade your skills, even if they are on your own time and dime.

 

9. Join a professional affiliation

If you aim to be the best in the business, you ought to be a member of your industry’s associations. Accountants, for example, have the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants (ACCA). You never know what opportunities might come your way through the strategic connections you make there.

 

10. Network like a pro

Network, network, network – every chance you get. Most people believe getting ahead is about “who you know”.

I’d like to offer you a slightly different perspective: what matters is who knows you.

The logic is simple – the further your name travels in industry circles, the more headhunters or business partners, for instance, are likely to come knocking on your door.

Once you are ready to tell and sell your story, just watch how far your personal brand takes you.

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