SOCIAL MEDIA AND YOUR PERSONAL BRAND

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1 96% of Americans know this logo! But the feelings or impression the bulls-eye evokes is part of branding. Target has carefully crafted their brand as fun, design-oriented, innovative, value-driven, and convenient. What does your brand say about you? Branding can be described as many things, but it is best defined as a promise... a promise of the value of the product... a promise that the product is better than all the competing products... a promise that must be delivered to be successful. Branding is the combination of tangible and intangible characteristics that make a brand unique. Branding is developing an image -- with results to match. Branding is essential to career advancement because branding helps define who you are, how you are great, and why you should be sought out. Branding is your reputation. Branding is about building a name for yourself, showcasing what sets you apart from others, and describing the added value you bring to a situation. Dr. Randall S. Hansen, founder of Quintessential Careers To brand yourself for your job search means that you develop a consistent and concise definition of yourself that you can then promote in your self-marketing materials and as you network. Branding yourself helps you Stand out from the pack Focus your mission and message Clarify who you are in the minds of others Make an emotional impact Project credibility Discover and Define your Brand If you don t define your brand, others will do it for you! Take the time to plan and focus on what you want your brand to stand for. Discover what you want: What are you passionate about? When does time fly? What are you prepared to do? What is it going to take to get your brand where it needs to be? Define who you are: What sets you apart from the others? What value do you bring to the table? Why should everyone be looking for you? What can I expect from your brand? Where is your brand heading? Career Assessment: This is a process of assessing your interests, skills, personality traits, and work values to likely discover which careers fit you best. The Job Center offers career assessments and Career Coaching appointments to discuss the findings. Informational Interviews: Identify someone who is doing what you want to do, contact them and request 20 minutes of their time to ask a few questions: What do you like/dislike about this job? What does it take to get into this line of work? Who else do you know that does this kind of work (can you give me their contact info and can I use your name)? Career exploration databases like Career Cruising and Fergusons Career Center are available in the Job Center, all library computers, and from home with your library card. Job Shadowing, Internships, Volunteering: seek opportunities to try on a career before committing.

2 Build your Brand You are the founder and CEO of Me, Inc. You are in charge! As the Chief Executive Officer of you, you are responsible for the direction of your brand. Where is your brand heading and what do you need to get there? Build your Job-Readiness Skills Find the experiences and opportunities that will build your résumé and help you make good on the promise of your brand. If the job you want requires certain educational credentials or work experience, identify ways to achieve those requirements such as school and training programs, part-time and seasonal employment, or job shadowing and internships. Also, do not underestimate the power of volunteering your way to a job: companies often offer jobs to volunteers, the time spent can count as work experience, and volunteering builds your résumé and pool of references. Develop your Soft Skills: What are Employers looking for? Soft skills (or transferrable skills) are those personal attributes that enhance an individual s interactions, job performance, and career prospects. Soft skills are the intangibles that move with you to every job. If you are dependable, then you will show up ready to work whether at a factory, bank, or office. Develop Your One-Minute Commercial Once you have spent time discovering and building your brand, you can create a personal statement about yourself that conveys who you are as a potential employee, what skills and experience you bring to the table, and where you are headed. This statement is also referred to as your elevator speech. Once you craft your statement, let it permeate all your marketing materials from résumés and cover letters to interviews and impromptu meetings with your professional network to your online presence. For help in writing your commercial or elevator speech, check out the Creating your Elevator Speech tip sheet! Promote your Brand You can have an amazing brand but if no one knows about it, you are not going to have much success! Presentation is everything! When people see you, what brand are you presenting? Are you appropriately dressed? What does your style say about your brand? How about your attitude? Do you show confidence? What s your Body Language? Do you have good Eye Contact? Posture? TIP: The simplest, easiest, and least expensive way to make a positive impression is to smile! Networking is the #1 way to promote your brand and enlist others to promote it for you! 60-90% of jobs are found informally through friends, relatives, and direct contacts. In other words, the best way to find a job is to get away from your computer and talk to people! If someone knew of a job opportunity would they think of you? If you have presented, advertised, and marketed yourself well on a daily basis, you can ask for jobs or referrals, references, and volunteering opportunities. Once you have crafted your elevator speech, you will have a great lead-in when networking. How to Build Relationships through Networking online and boots to the ground! Identify your contacts: friends, colleagues, customers, clients, and former bosses Keep up with your contacts: give them frequent updates of your most recent successes Track Word-of-mouth: what are these people saying about you? Join Professional Associations: go to where the people you want to work with one day are, volunteer and get active!

3 Marketing Materials Once you know your brand, you will want to promote it through several different types of self-marketing tools. Personal Branding is about presenting, in a clear, concise, and confident way, what sets you apart from everyone else. When creating your marketing materials, be sure to have a professional, clean, and consistent design. You do not need a graphic designer to do this; just choose one simple font to give everything a uniform look. The Job Center provides a myriad of resources and services to assist you in creating the most effective marketing tool but here are just a few tips: 1. Résumés: Did you know employers take between seconds reviewing a résumé? Your résumé must be compelling and targeted to the job for which you are applying. Highlight your accomplishments and the skills, knowledge, and abilities that set you apart. The objective of the résumé is to get an interview! 2. Cover letters: This is the best place to show your personality, enthusiasm, and passion for the job, company, and career field. Highlight specifically why you are a better choice over another person. 3. Portfolios: Showcase your past projects and experience in a way that highlights your talent, personality and voice. Make sure your web or print portfolio is professional with a consistent, simple design that engages your audience. 4. References: References are people who have experienced your brand and are willing to confirm your brand message. If you are the CEO of You, than your references are your Board of Directors. Even before you engage in an active job search, consider identifying a pool of people who are willing to speak on your behalf. 5. Networking Cards: Every job seeker needs a contact card to take to networking events such as job fairs, professional meetings, social events, and anywhere else you may run into potential contacts. Keep your cards simple, have them printed or print them yourself, and then take them everywhere! Consider including a concise brand statement and link to your professional website or LinkedIn. 6. Online Presence: If a potential employer googles you, what will they find? Employers are not just looking at your online activity for reasons to fire; they also want to find reasons to hire. If you are online, be sure your content is professional, updated, shows your personality and creativity, and is contributing something authentic and important. Additional Quick Tips for Building a Brand Online If you are not currently on any of these sites, visit the Job Center to take advantage of a class, lab, or Career Coaching appointment to learn how! LinkedIn: Max out your profile, contribute to boards, use your header like an objective, ask for recommendations, create purposeful connections, follow companies and people in your line of work, find a profile of someone with the career you are interested in and observe their career path (How did they get where they are?) FaceBook: connect and be a fan with your dream company, turn online relationships into offline networking, know your privacy settings (who can search you, who can see your posts) Twitter: Be interesting, be relevant, fill your feed with relevant people, follow companies and recruiters, use job search hashtags (#), and retweet (replies = good) Blogging: Be consistent: 2-3 entries/week, give credit/links, comment on other blogs Rich Media: Capture your audience s attention with video capture

4 Work the cycle: -Intended Response (what do you want your content to say about you?) -Measured Effect (how s it working for you? Is your message being heard?) -Modify (tweak and improve and try again) Be It Before You Say It: The Essence of Branding The essence of a brand is simple. Know who you are. Be who you are. Say who you are. The following article by Monica Skipper, brand strategy team lead at FedEx since 2005, originally appeared on American Express OPEN Forum. The Essence of Branding. FedEx: Shipping, Logistics Management and Supply Chain Management. N.p., n.d. Web. 25 Oct < 2011/essence-branding.html>. Whether you re building a new brand or redefining your old one, it s easy to get lost in the details of fonts, logos and voice guidelines. While design elements and messaging are important parts of your overall brand identity, they aren t your brand. The essence of a brand is simple: First, know who you are. Second, be who you are. And finally, say who you are. Know it FedEx is a highly complex operation, but the complexities don t matter to customers. All they care about is our brand promise. Simply put, the FedEx brand is synonymous with reliability. Define your benefit to customers in the most straightforward terms possible. At times, you may need to refresh your brand in order to stay relevant. Case in point: the FedEx acquisition of Kinko s, now known as FedEx Office. More and more, customers expect convenient business solutions on the go. So we expanded our services to meet these needs. But our original promise of reliability the same promise we made when we started three decades ago still holds true today. Be it Your brand is the essence of who you are, but it means nothing without corresponding action. Once you know your promise to customers, you need to deliver on that promise. That s what branding is all about. Every time you keep the promise, you strengthen your brand identity. When you break the promise, you diminish the brand. If your promise is reliability, then you need to offer reliability in everything you do from your products and services to your website and communications. This is how you build brand equity with customers. Say it Once you know who you are and you re delivering on that promise, you need to say who you are to customers over and over again. This doesn t necessarily mean that you should express yourself in exactly the same way to every customer. High School students may appreciate a certain tone or format more than, say, a Fortune 500 executive. But the heart and soul of your message needs to be consistent. Who you are as a business should drive how you look, feel and sound to the public. Create a marketing and communications plan that says, Here s who I am, and here s how that benefits you, the customer in every , printed material, website, blog, phone conversation, tweet and Facebook post. And use your design elements to drive that message home.

5 Now, there s a fine line between consistency and redundancy, but when it comes to branding, that s OK. Most customers don t spend a lot of time learning about your business. They don t read your ads, website and press releases in the same way they read the morning paper. If you want customers to instinctively associate your business with your brand promise, you can t be afraid to repeat yourself. Before you get caught up in wordsmithing, font choices and color palettes, ask yourself: Why am I in this business to begin with? What is my unique benefit to customers? If you want your small business to grow and thrive, you need to know the answers. And always keep your promises.

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