Today's marketplace is constantly evolving. It's vibrant and dynamic, irrespective of the state of the economy. It's part-real, part-virtual. And this environment has been a breeding ground for independent-minded and independent professionals, making it incredibly important to stand out. Personal branding has become an all-important mantra for those people whose business is all about what they can offer as individuals.
In a cluttered environment, how can you create a personal brand that stands out?
Here are 4 simple mantras that could help you fashion your own unique personal brand. But, remember, this is not a blueprint; just some tried and tested steps. The most important aspect about personal branding is the word 'personal.' Create your own unique chart to personal branding success.
Mantra 1: Honesty is the best personal branding policy
You can't fake who you are, online or in person. Who you are is what the personal brand should be about. People relate to honesty and make long lasting connections based on the real you. When you fake a personality, you won't be able to keep it up forever, and the followers you have accrued will fall by the wayside the minute the façade comes off.
A great example about honest Personal Branding is Zen Habits' blogger, Leo Babauta.
After 4 years of blogging about personal goals and realizing his dreams, Leo has some 200,000 subscribers and his blog has been ranked the No.1 blog of the year, two times in a row, by TIME magazine.
Whether you want to start a blog, a small business or become a consultant, you can apply Leo's approach. By behaving and working in ways that you are truly comfortable with, not only are you happier, but you also help people build trust and confidence in you.
Leo's cult is only growing by the day, and he'll continue to wield influence, if he continues to live and preach honestly. A growing number of gurus in the self-help space, where personal branding is very important, lose followers, because sooner or later, they're 'exposed' for being something they said they weren't.
Mantra 2: What's your middle name?
Think hard. In high school, did kids call you Tom-cool head-Jackson or Sarah-math wiz-Smith? Or something not so flattering? Whatever your strengths and weaknesses are, they are unique. They will set you apart from hundreds of thousands of others, peddling the same goods as you.
Leveraging your Unique Selling Point, is far more than just having a logo or a catchy slogan that talks about your special quality. It's living your Unique Selling Point.
Heard of Anthony Bourdain? Sure you have. Gordon Ramsay? Sure you have. They are both loud, angry, and aggressive people but also world famous chefs. Their signature qualities aren't typically seen as positive or good. But the fact is, these very qualities make them unique individuals with something, unique to offer.
Make the most of what is unique about you. Use it to your advantage. Surely, throughout their careers, Bourdain and Ramsay may have been advised to tone down their 'loudness'. Ramsay, being more aggressive, might have been branded arrogant and abusive, but it is these very qualities, while making his sous-chefs' lives miserable, makes his personal brand come alive.
A very important lesson in personal branding is to accept who are, and work on those very qualities to build a brand that's unique and different.
Mantra 3: No money in anonymity
Online presence these days, involves leaving your personal brand behind, wherever you go – whether it's posting on forums, responding to blog posts, maintaining a blog, tweeting or creating online profiles on various networks.
There is literally no money for those who want to stay behind the scenes these days.
Increasingly, employers ask for twitter accounts and blog addresses to be mentioned on resumes. In fact, these resumes need to be uploaded on a personal website too!
Establishing online presence or presence within professional networks in your area of expertise is a crucial first step in building a person brand. While social media and the internet are still evolving in many ways, privacy concerns frequently emerge. It may be tempting to share everything about yourself, but in the process of building a personal brand, do remember not to reveal personal information like home numbers and address.
Mantra 4: Look up, but don't imitate
If you take the blogging world as an example, the phenomenal success that some bloggers have achieved, simply blogging about day-to-day things like personal goals, has spawned thousands of replicas. But, the truth is, there are only one or two stars in the sphere.
Chris Guillebeau is a star ‘travel hacker.’ He travels around the world, at a fraction of the normal cost, by manipulating travel miles, reward points and frequent flyer bonuses. Through his newsletter, where he initially shared travel hacking tips, he has attracted millions of followers. He's got book deals about living a non-conformist life, his career, is literally made.
But he has also spawned hundreds of other bloggers like him who want to travel, write about it and live off those earnings, but only a very small number has succeeded, and only remotely.
Building his personal brand was an arduous journey for Chris. He shares his difficulties in many blog posts, where he talks about writing assignments at top dailies that paid pittance, about how he shared information for free and relied on donations from readers. Personal brand building is a difficult journey and there is no one road to success, you can have mentors who inspire you but imitating their every move will only make you a rip-off.
With that, we come to not just the end of this article, but also the essence of it. In an effort to build a personal brand, acquire millions of followers on twitter or subscribers to your blog posts, or that big, half-a-million dollar project, don't forget who you are.
Preetam Kaushik is a freelance writer/independent columnist and an avid blogger. He is a web 2.0 expert and writing consultant serving a wide array of clients. Read more about Preetam here.