Anyone without a personal brand in B2B is like a book without a jacket -- it's easy to be forgotten or ignored. You are unique with a special set of skills and expertise -- but how will people know that if you fade into the background of your industry?
Fail to develop and maintain your personal brand and you short-circuit yourself and your career.
Read on to discover what a personal brand is -- and what it’s not -- as well as why it’s essential to both your personal and business success.
What Is Personal Branding?
Your personal brand is how the world perceives you -- it combines your reputation, your history, your knowledge and expertise in your industry. It’s much more than a slogan, logo, or personal style.
A personal brand is separate from a company brand. It personally identifies you as a thought leader in your industry. This is not something to be left up to chance.
Why You Need a Personal Brand in B2B
You may be wondering, "Why should I take the trouble to develop a personal brand that is separate from my company's brand?" Yes, it's a lot of work, but it pays off!
A personal brand cuts both ways: It benefits both you and your company.
Before engaging a company's services, many people will look into the reputation and expertise of its CEO. One study found that 48 percent of a company's reputation can be attributed to the standing of its CEO. You of course don't need to be a CEO to contribute to your company's brand. Anyone as a representative of a company can enhance -- or diminish -- a company's image.
At the same time, you need a brand that is all your own, separate from your company. Why is this important? In all likelihood you won't be at your company forever. A personal brand gives you the boost you need to expand your career.
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How to Develop Your Own Personal Brand
1. Be Yourself
While this may sound like the cheesy moral of a cartoon special, it is the only way to stand out and create a lasting personal brand. Don’t allow others to define you.
Find out what makes you unique. What about your ideas, experience, and personality set you apart from others in your industry? These show through in everything you do and should be celebrated. In the end, authenticity is what will attract people to your brand and build thought leadership.
2. Identify Your Current Brand
Yes, you already have a brand -- whether you work at it or not. All of us do! It’s what people think when they first meet you. What people tell others about you. What they feel when they speak with you.
When you set forth to craft your personal brand, you need to work with what you already have. Personal branding is not about ignoring the reputation you’ve already developed and starting from scratch. It’s like taking a piece of clay that already has a shape, and working with that shape to mold it into something new.
3. Create a Mission Statement
Many who are in the process of developing their personal brand feel a bit lost in the beginning. It’s natural -- especially when there are so many options. A great way to keep yourself on track is to write a mission statement at the start.
This will keep your personal brand consistent and guide you through the decisions to come. Whatever actions, products, services, or even social interactions come up in the future, you will have a compass to guide you through.
4. Be Strategic
Don’t leave your personal brand up to chance. An occasional social media post is not going to cut it. Be proactive. Promote yourself and your image within your industry. Manage your reputation and be seen the way you want to by your peers.
In order to have a solid strategy, you need to answer two key questions:
- What are my personal objectives?
- What are my natural talents?
This will give you a direction. If you have a natural talent for public speaking, then plan speaking engagements or start a podcast that will move you toward your objectives.
5. Prove Your Credibility
Give people ample opportunities to learn about you and what you do -- that you are an expert in your industry. You can do this with:
- Published articles
- Speaking engagements
- Attendance at industry conferences
- Thought leadership material
Look for every opportunity to demonstrate your knowledge and associate with your peers. This will establish your professional credibility and lead to other opportunities.
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6. Build Your Online Presence
Show off your expert skills with your online profiles. Whether it’s LinkedIn or Facebook, make it obvious that you are on top of your industry. Keep your profiles updated with your recent accomplishments and don't foget to distinguish them with some personality.
Components of a successful personal online profile include:
- A prominent and professional photo of yourself
- An attention-grabbing headline
- Your personal accomplishments
- Career experience
- A professional tone that also showcases your personality
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A Few Points to Keep in Mind...
- A personal brand benefits both your own career advancement and the overall reputation of your company.
- Be yourself and build on whatever personal brand you already have.
- Be strategic and methodical -- have personal brand-specific goals and plan how you will reach them.
- Demonstrate your credibility by publishing articles, scheduling speaking engagements, and networking.
The moral here? Don’t leave your personal brand to chance. Be proactive in creating a personal brand in B2B that sets you apart from your peers, and creates unique opportunities for your personal career advancement.
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