Whether you are a recent graduate, a seasoned professional, or starting your own business, building your brand is essential. But where do you start? It’s a valid question – establishing yourself can feel overwhelming. Chris Perreira Jardine, in the blog Brand Yourself Today for a Brighter Career, says it best: build a consistent brand (and your career) like you would a house.
Attend events, hand out professional business cards, follow up on opportunities, ask for advice. And don’t forget about your online appearance.
Since most of us aren’t construction experts, let’s go through it step by step.
First, construct a frame. Your frame is the basis which the rest of your career is built. What does that mean to you? It means that you need to uncover your passions and become an expert in your chosen field, closely following the industry and its trends. And don’t be afraid to take some risks … and fail. As founder of Honda Motor Co., Ltd., Soichiro Honda, said, “Success represents the 1% of your work which results from the 99% that is called failure.”
With a sturdy frame in place, fill your interior. Jardine recommends reading. A lot. Read books that are in your field and, as importantly, those that aren’t. You never know where you will find inspiration. If you don’t know where to start your literary adventure, try these suggestions.
With a frame, a rich and full interior and a put-together exterior, you have expertly built and are living your brand.
Write, write, write. Write blogs, write emails, write articles, write post-its, write anything. Write to both tap into your creativity and to position yourself in your industry. You bring something to the table that no one else has – YOU! Your strengths will shine through and set you apart. Plus, you will never regret publishing pieces to include in your portfolio. As importantly, learn to listen. You will learn so much from experts, your clients and your competitors if you first seek to hear rather than to be heard.
Finally, what is a house without a gorgeous, landscaped exterior? Your professional appearance – shoes, clothing, etc., key to your brand; you never get a second chance to make a good first impression. It will carry you as you network and connect with potential clients or employers. Attend events, hand out professional business cards, follow up on opportunities, ask for advice. And don’t forget about your online appearance. Use your social media presence as a tool to promote your expertise, services and connections … and be careful of posting anything not in line with your brand, even on personal profiles (i.e. those vacation photos from Mexico. You know the ones).
With a frame, a rich and full interior and a put-together exterior, you have expertly built and are living your brand. A final piece of advice: Don’t be afraid to redecorate and make home improvements. In other words, reinvent yourself if something isn’t to your liking … after all, you are your brand!