The modern, interconnected world has many perks, but sometimes I crave a simpler way of life: a world in which people don’t have to submit to online self-promotion to elevate their potential in the job market; a world wherein personal branding only exists for business empires, not individuals. Regrettably, I don’t live in a simpler world, consequently, as a person who desires a fulfilling career through my pending English degree, I’m exploring personal branding to give myself an edge over other college grads. I recently learned the relevance and influence a well-defined personal brand holds in today’s competitive job market. If you’re a writer reading this post, my intent is to convey current attitudes about personal branding for professional writers and or authors.
Perspectives on Personal Branding
So, what is personal branding, and why should anyone consider it?
Johnathan Maltby, a professional branding consultant, practically scares me into adopting a personal branding strategy, in his following statements in a medium.com article:
“[W]e have been told that to be successful in your career we need to have a combination of a good education, relevant industry skills and of course experience. However, as the job market becomes more competitive, this outdated formula simply doesn’t cut it anymore . . . there is a secret weapon that each of us has and if deployed strategically, can put us far ahead of the competition and seriously propel our career forwards. . . It’s our Personal Brand!”
Maltby, “Personal Branding — The Key to an Epic Career,” medium.com
I fear Johnathan’s statements are correct. Upon reflection of his words and with my present research on branding in college, I’m seriously thinking I might have to submit to this personal branding thing. Deja vu is rising in me, recalling how skeptical I was of social media, especially when it felt as if there was a new, hot platform every month: MySpace –> Facebook –> Google Plus –> LinkedIn, and on and on. Now, however, I’ve got a hang of how to use social media advantageously: which platforms to use for which content, and how social media can open a world of opportunity. Applying that experience to now, I’ll endeavor to give personal branding a stab. Below is what other branding experts say about the relevance of branding.
Jay Palter, a social media strategist and a decades-long consultant in software development and financial services, writes about the importance of personal branding for professionals and businesses in “How to Build a Personal Brand Strategy and Communication Plan,” on business2community.com. He defines personal brand as somewhat of a blueprint that “guides how you conduct yourself to deliver the ‘experience of you.’” The purpose of this blueprint is to deliver “the total experience of someone having a relationship with who you are and what you represent as a leader.”
I interpret Palter’s view of a personal brand as a series of fundamentals delineated by you to convey who you are, what you do, why you do what you do, and your unique way of doing it. In defining these elements about yourself, other people get a hint of who you are and what to expect of you. For a business professional, defining a personal brand is becoming an expectation in the current job market or for those who seek to get their work greater public visibility.
Jeff Dunn, an Intel campus relations manager who was interviewed for a collegerecruiter.com podcast, says the following about branding and networking, “Branding is what you’re known for and networking is getting more people to know who you are.” Watch the full podcast below.
Dunn says branding “should be done for personal and professional reasons.” This statement resonates with me because I promote my writing for both personally and professionally, and I don’t have the same goals for both. In the personal realm, my goal is to connect with other writers and promote my works (once finished) to a readership I’ve cultivated through branding and networking. In the professional realm, I network as a means to an end, to display my skills to job recruiters as I approach completing my degree.
How to Build a Personal Brand
Most of us have an inkling that utilizing social media and blogging can enhance online presence. Further, most of us also know consistency is key to building a following across these platforms. However, personal branding is still a developing concept — as opposed to business branding, which has been around since . . . well, ever, I guess. If you, like I, are considering developing a personal brand, read on for some brief tips from the experts I introduced earlier in this article.
- Anne Gallagher and John Byrne of Gallagher Media Group, encourage people to pinpoint and market what they call Unique Selling Points or USP. To discover our USP, we must survey features about ourselves and then drill down which of those features seem the most unique to our personal selves compared to others in our given markets. Once you discover your USP, Gallagher and Byrne recommend creating a concise, personal tagline. An example for a science fiction writer might be: I create science fiction that is as real as life. An example for a newly-graduated English major might be: I’m a skillful, resourceful, concise professional writer. Or, at least those examples are a starting point on which to improve.
- Palter suggests answering questions about yourself. From there, you must pinpoint personal features that separate you from others in your desired field.
- Maltby’s article suggests defining “your core strengths and skills . . . area of specialization and most of all, [your] value.” After figuring these factors out, he says to create a “core message” (or tagline) and incorporate it across social media platforms and all instances in which you pitch skills and USP to others.
All these tips are starting to sound the same, aren’t they? That’s a good thing. When industry experts blurt out the same advice, that means that advice likely has some weight to it. I’ll spare you more of the same and end the tips there. Click on the links throughout this article or at the end of the article to get more in-depth material from each expert mentioned.
In my in my previous post, I wrote about my research into technical writing, editing, and marketing as possible positions I’ll pursue after earning my B.A. later this year. Below are links to personal branding techniques from within each field. Feel free to explore the content and decide whether they are good examples of personal branding and whether any of them follow some of the tips detailed by commentators I referenced above.
“Brand Yourself” from CollegeRecruiter.com: https://www.collegerecruiter.com/blog/2017/08/21/brand-yourself-sounds-intimidating-two-recruiting-experts-discuss-how-and-why-job-seekers-should-care/
Johnathan Maltby, “Personal Branding — The Key to an Epic Career” from medium.com: https://medium.com/your-brand/personal-branding-the-key-to-an-epic-career-559fae3b32c2
John Palter, “How to Build a Personal Brand Strategy and Communication Plan” from business2community.com: https://www.business2community.com/branding/how-to-build-a-personal-brand-strategy-and-communication-plan-0554284