Smart, strategic personal branding can accelerate professional advancement. There is no getting around it, ignoring its importance, or doing it half heartedly.
What a smart, strategic personal branding plan and blueprint can do is frame what you stand for and how to stand out, get noticed and become credible in your field or community. How we present ourselves, market ourselves, the way we look, the content we focus on and our messaging all must work together.
The lines between personal and business branding are blurring and overlapping. Branding a company is branding it’s leadership. We want to know who are behind the brands we support, follow and consume. We want to know their story, their process, the journey of their success. That’s what makes it more interesting and personal for us. Companies that don’t care about engaging us are one way streets and conversations. Not smart or effective in building loyal followers and communities.
My colleague and friend Personal Branding Expert and founder of this blog Dan Schawbel says: “who you are is who you attract”. This is the essence of personal branding. I will add, that an authentic personal brand both attracts people to you but also attracts you to them.
Here are some of the tools, platforms and ways to create, grow and develop your personal brand for professional advancement.
Nothing says more about the essence of what you stand for and believe than writing about it. Blogging has become a must use and utilize way to align yourself with your areas of expertise and be able to grow your reach and speak to your niche.
Have and Engage Personal, Strategic Social Media Platforms
LinkedIn and Twitter are two of the most important online platforms for making professional connections. Their use for small businesses and professionals have increased dramatically and are quickly becoming the most important online ways to make connections, open doors and find jobs. Make sure your profiles are up to date, with professional pictures and that they brand you the way you would like them to.
Carve out some time to volunteer to help whatever you are passionate about supporting, and help it grow and get its message out. Align yourself with causes that you want to be known for-kids, the elderly, education, poverty.
Make a commitment to join professional and personal affiliations, which can be rich networking arenas that can yield big benefits. Chambers, professional organizations, clubs, groups, non-profit boards all yield amazing potential to show leadership, creativity, professionalism and personality.
Blend Networking In Person and Online
We live, work and play in two worlds now and both are equally important and inter-dependent. Meet more people in person. It’s ultimately the best way to advance relationships and use all the bridges that lead to that are online and web based. All the social media platforms, LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, gives us all daily opportunities to engage, interact, serve and grow relationships.
According to the latest RSR research, 22% of businesses said that building customer loyalty was their lowest priority, and 9% said the same about engaging customers. The lack of an emphasis placed on customer engagement and loyalty is somewhat surprising, given that asked to name their top 3 business challenges, a leading 51% of respondents said that customer retention has become more difficult and building customer loyalty is challenging.
Without customer engagement and creating ways for customers to have a dialogue, there is no way customer retention and loyalty can happen.
People need to feel included, acknowledged, more engaged with each other and the companies they support. That can only happen when people directly engage with each other. Not automated, or fake, but real-time.
Regardless if you are looking for a job, running a small business, or a leader in a company, personal branding that engages and connects you is the path to and can accelerate professional advancement.
Take it seriously and take it up a notch! Do it for yourself as much as you can, or hire or appoint someone to be your authentic voice and let people know they are an extension of you when you can’t!
Deborah Shane is Top 100 Small Business Champion 2012, Career Author, branding/media strategist, writer and speaker. She hosts her Toolbox Blog and a popular weekly Business Radio Show that has over 108K downloads! She is a regular contributor to SmallBizTrends.com, Monster, Blogher, PersonalBrandingBlog.com, Forbes.com. Her book Career Transition-make the shift is available on Amazon.com and all major book sellers. Deborah delivers smart ideas and solutions, which make her a popular go-to resource for CNN, CBS, Fox and Forbes.