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Three secrets to a stronger “personal brand”

William Randolph Hearst built an empire around a simple brand dictum: “Get it first and get it right.”

What is your personal dictum or tagline? How do you differentiate yourself from the competition – for a job, a potential client, a promotion or a new opportunity? In a room full of eager candidates, what background gives you the confidence to step forward and claim the prize? Here’s help putting your wow factor into words and action!

#1. Do a personal SWOT Analysis. Dr. Elaine Beaubien, national trainer and college marketing professor, leads personal SWOT training sessions to help Fortune 500 business professionals focus on their leadership brand. The SWOT exercise creates an environment that encourages setting goals and recognizing opportunities, and making solid plans to identify and overcome barriers to success. “You have to be aware of your own strengths and also weaknesses, which I rename ‘barriers’,” Beaubien says. “First, take the internal inventory, which is the SW part of SWOT. Strengths – can you drill down to identify your unique natural talents and advantages, your personal and professional gifts?” Then consider W – weaknesses: “Acknowledge flaws or educational or training gaps as professional development opportunities,” Beaubien advises. “Don’t get hung up on them as negatives, but as personal barriers to your success. Then generate a plan to neutralize them.”

Next comes the external inventory – outside influences. The O and T analysis of Opportunities and Threats (“or external barriers to success,” Beaubien suggests, since people are more comfortable with that ideology.) “This outside view allows one to recognize opportunities that fit their strengths, and also marketplace or workplace barriers that have to be neutralized. When the exercise is done, you have the information you need to move forward, to market yourself appropriately to your goals, and to give yourself a tagline.” [Hint: here’s a free cheat sheet to help with your own SWOT analysis.]

#2. Adopt active speech, not passive prose

The first cut for any awards or merit-based honor is based almost entirely on self-promotion skills on a survey or nomination form. A very early question will be an inquiry about accomplishments. What’s your answer?

Think what sets you apart. Working with great people is not an accomplishment, but it sounds good, and humble, so lots of people list it as one. [Hint: save humble prose for an acceptance speech.] Getting a great job isn’t an accomplishment, either, when everyone else in the pool also has a great job. It’s not an accomplishment to be hired by a law firm; an accomplishment is being the youngest partner ever named, having the most jury wins, most billable hours, most heart-wrenching pro-bono case, a case that set a precedent, arguing before the U.S. Supreme Court, or doing the most something.

Job interviewing? Client wooing? If you do not have three things that separate you from a group of peers or colleagues, then consider acquiring community volunteer experience, an unexpected skill or hobby, or manage to share a clearly unusual story (consistent with your brand tagline) to make you memorable. Your answers to interview or customer questions, like awards surveys, have to propel you above the rest of the applicants. The better the job offer or opportunity, the better qualified other candidates will be, too, and the more important it is to project what makes you special.

#3. Be consistent in your branding message.
Have you followed a rusted, banged up service truck on the highway advertising auto repairs? Personal or commercial brand recognition is 25% ingenuity, 25% determination, 50% networking (and/or advertising), and then 100% consistency. Any brand has to be advertised to gain traction. It has to be made public in the channels most appropriate to your end goal. But before you go to that Rotary meeting or chamber networking event, ask yourself these questions: Are my clothes consistent with my brand? Is my luncheon guest consistent with my brand? Take a satisfied client as your guest; they will serve you well as a good-will ambassador!

Maintaining consistency is hard work, but it is the glue that holds a brand together.
Now that you’re audited, polished and ready to network, join us next week when we turn to useful apps you’ll want to use in marketing yourself or your business.

About Jody Glynn Patrick

Jody is President of Glynn Patrick & Associates, which provides management consulting, executive coaching and strategic planning services. She is Publisher Emeritus of In Business magazine, which she published for 17 years. Selected as the “U.S. Business Journalist of the Year” in 2007 in Washington, DC, by the U.S. Small Business Administration, Jody has been a business reporter, editor, radio talk show host , and has won other state and national journalism awards. At the same time, she has helped corporate clients grow their businesses -- the basis for her practical coaching advice here. She also was the 2005 Athena Award recipient for her leadership role in mentoring other professional women. Jody will be talking with you weekly on TDS’ blog to share her insights and tips from the C-Suite perspective. Follow on G+.

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