Fundamentally, the process of personal branding includes taking time to define yourself and then intentionally connecting yourself with others who likely want what you have.

The 3 essentials to personal branding

So here are three must-have parts of the personal branding process.

1. Identify your authentic qualities

What is it that you MUST be? Jessica Alba said recently in an interview that she’d only want her kids to choose acting if there was simply no other thing they could imagine doing. Meaning, acting would be there last resort because it was such a driver in their lives that nothing else would be possible. That’s a tall order for authenticity but we all have it within us.

What about yourself – even if you’ve never expressed it to anyone – is the quality that feels like your life force? What is it that is undeniably you – even if that thing seems like no way to earn a living? Even, if it means disappointing everyone who expects you to do or be something else?

2. Identify what look represents you

What are you meant to look like, project, and appear to be? That would be the basis of your visual brand. Kim Kardashian can’t get away from let’s call them her curvy assets. Fundamentally, to quote Joni Mitchell, she’s sitting on her groceries. Call it glamour, trendiness, or whatever it could be; KK can never be understated, classic or demure.

What about you – your inherent, authentic style – wants to be revealed to us? Maybe it’s your desire to never look like anyone else, or to be dark and sophisticated, or teal and airy or blend in to a preppie crowd.

What is the you that, at least aspirationally, you want us to see as you? Remember, most celebs (read big personal brands) have stylists – so it doesn’t have to be anything you could actually do yourself. The look of your personal brand might be something between you and your graphic designer (or creative partner) that we get when you put the right colors, shapes and typography together. It’s what you want us to “get” when we come upon your online presence and your on-ground presence.

And it might even require some physical modification. Lose weight, gain muscle, have your nose done – you get the range of possibilities.

3. Identify your audience, whom you want to be with or among – maybe even above

That would be the people you can serve –who have a need for what you need to deliver. Seth Godin calls them your tribes. Now, I call everyone you see your audience –whether it’s one person or several thousand. It could be a certain part of the media. It could be specific people who can recommend you or buy from you. It could be your business partners or boss. Maybe people who work with you. Oprah made some big changes about her audience this year – yes it’s a risk. But she is still such a good role model for creating a billion dollar personal brand.

Among the 7 billion of us here, who is in your tribe? Maybe it’s not the one you are born into, or even have chosen to be among for your college or career so far. Don’t let acceptance by a group be your only guide. It’s not enough that someone wants you. Who do you want to be the players in your life? Where are they? And why will they adore you?

We’re nearly halfway through 2012 – so it’s a really good time to reflect before soldiering on with your personal branding efforts. If it’s not working for you, at least tweak what you’ve got going on – and kill the second half. And, I mean kill in a good way.