Personal Branding 101: How to Discover and Create Your Brand

February 5, 2009 – 3:51 pm PDT – by Dan Schawbel

Dan Schawbel is the author of Me 2.0: Build a Powerful Brand to Achieve Career Success, and owner of the award winning Personal Branding Blog.

In the past few years personal branding has been discussed exhaustively throughout the Net. The difference between today and over ten years ago when it was first mentioned by Tom Peters, is the rise of social technologies that have made branding not only more personal, but within reach.

From the corporate brand (BMW), to the product brand (BMW M3 Coupe) and down to the personal brand (car salesman), branding is a critical component to a customer’s purchasing decision. These days, customer complaints and opinions are online and viewable through a simple search, on either Google or through social networks. There is no hiding anymore and transparency and authenticity are the only means to survive and thrive in this new digital kingdom.

Many people think that personal branding is just for celebrities such as Paris Hilton or Britney Spears, yet each and every one of us is a brand. Personal branding, by definition, is the process by which we market ourselves to others. As a brand, we can leverage the same strategies that make these celebrities or corporate brands appeal to others. We can build brand equity just like them.

We can also have just as much presence as most startups and mid-size companies and products. Social media tools have leveled the playing ground and have enabled us to reach incredible heights, at the cost of our time. Today, I want to share the personal branding process, so you can start to think about what face you want to show to the world and how you want to position yourself for success!


1. Discover your brand


The single biggest mistake people make is that they either brand themselves just for the sake of doing it or that they fail to invest time in learning about what’s in their best interests. The key to success, and this isn’t revolutionary, is to be compensated based on your passion. In order to find your passion, you need a lot of time to think, some luck and you need to do some research online to figure out what’s out there.

Brand discovery is about figuring out what you want to do for the rest of your life, setting goals, writing down a mission, vision and personal brand statement (what you do and who you serve), as well as creating a development plan. Have you ever been called intelligent or humorous by your peers or coworkers? That description is part of your brand, especially if you feel those attributed pertain to you. To know if you’ve discovered your brand, you need to make this equation equal:

Your self-impression = How people perceive you

Before you enter the next step in the personal branding process, you’ll want to select a niche, whereby you can be the master of your domain. For example, Joel Comm has mastered the Google Adsense niche and brands himself using his name, and Brian Solis owns the social media PR niche with his PR 2.0 blog (under his name). When I say domain, I mean an area where there aren’t many competitors and literally, your online domain name. Once you sort this all out, now it’s time to create your brand.


2. Create your brand


Now that you know what you want to do and have claimed a niche, at least in your mind, it’s time to get it on paper and online. The sum of all the marketing material you should develop for your brand is called a Personal Branding Toolkit. This kit consists of the following elements that you can use to highlight your brand and allow people to easily view what you’re about:

mydropcard

1. Business card: It doesn’t matter if you’re a college student, CEO, or a consultant, everyone should have their own business card. The card should contain your picture, your personal brand statement (such as Boston Financial Expert), as well as your *preferred* contact information and corporate logo if necessary.

You can create your own business card and share it through your mobile phone using mydropcard.com or rmbrme.com. On the web, BusinessCard2.com is a great social network for creating and distributing your person business card.

2. Resume/cover letter/references document: These are typical documents that you need for applying for jobs and when you go on interviews (something over 2 million job seekers will be doing as we speak). Be sure to prioritize each document with information custom to the target position. Take your resume online and add social features to it to make the ultimate social media resume, promoting your personal brand to the world and making it shareable.

carbonmade

3. Portfolio: Whether you use a CD, web or print portfolio, it’s a great way to showcase the work you’ve done in the past, which can convince someone of your ability to accomplish the same results for the future. Figdig.com and carbonmade.com are social networks for people who want to show off their creative skills to the world.

4. Blog/website: You need to own yourname.com or a website that aligns with your name in some fashion. Depending on who you are, how much time you have on your hands and if you can accept criticism, you should either start a blog or stick with a static homepage. Those who blog will have a stronger asset than those who don’t because blogs rank higher in search engines and lend more to your expertise and interest areas over time.

5. LinkedIn profile: A LinkedIn profile is a combination of a resume, cover letter, references document and a moving and living database of your network. Use it to create your own personal advertising, to search for jobs or meet new people.

6. Facebook profile: Over 160 million people have profiles, but almost none of them have branded themselves properly using this medium. Be sure to include a Facebook picture of just you, without any obscene gestures or unnecessary vodka bottles. Also, input your work experience and fill out your profile, while turning on the privacy options that disable the ability for people to tag you in pictures and videos (allowing people to see the ones tagged of you).

@mashable

7. Twitter profile: Your Twitter profile should have an avatar that is carved out of your Facebook picture and used in your LinkedIn profile. You need to use a distinct background, fill out your profile and include a link to either your blog or LinkedIn profile. Twitterbacks.com, developed by internet mogul Jim Kukral, has templates you can use to sculpt your very own Twitter background (Photoshop skills not included). Twitbacks.com is another solution that also lets you promote your Twitter profile.

8. Video resume: A video resume is a short video of you talking about why you are the best for a specific job opportunity. You get about a minute or so to communicate your brand and are able to send the link, once you upload it to YouTube, to hiring managers.

9. Wardrobe: Your personal style is tangible and is extremely important for standing out from the crowd. Select clothing that best represents you because it will be viewable through your pictures/avatars online, as well as when you meet people in reality.

10. Email address: Don’t overlook your email address as not being a significant part of your toolkit. Most people use email over all social networks and when you connect with someone on a social network, you are notified via email, so get used to it. Your email address poses a great opportunity for your brand. I recommend using gmail because of the acceptance of Google and since GTalk allows you to form tighter relationships with others. For your address, use “firstname.lastname@gmail.com.”


What’s next?


After you spend the time on these parts of your personal branding toolkit, it’s time to showcase it to the world, especially your target audience. Don’t be fooled by the myth that if you build it, they will come. Unless you’re the luckiest person on earth, you’ll have to actually communicate everything you’ve created to others.

In the next post, I will discuss how you can take the personal branding toolkit you’ve developed and communicate it to your audience. I’ll give you tips on how to market your personal brand to become known in your niche. Then, I’ll finish by explaining how you should monitor and update your brand over your lifetime.

Original – http://mashable.com/2009/02/05/personal-branding-101/

tim esse


Ways Job Seekers Can Find Old Contacts

When Rick Featherstone, 49, was laid off from DHL in August after nearly five years with the company, he dived into his Rolodex to call old network of colleagues and business associates. He figured it would be easy to reconnect. But it turned out that many of his former coworkers had moved on and finding them was a challenge. Mr. Featherstone, who had worked at just three companies over the previous 22 years, quickly realized his contact list was sorely out of date.

Four months later, the former IT manager has found many former colleagues, but in retrospect he says he has learned a valuable lesson: “You have to be ready to move at a moment’s notice, you aren’t going to work for the same company for 50 years.”

Many laid-off professionals who’ve worked at the same company — or just a few firms — over their careers may find that their networks have gone stale. Experts recommend networking be done consistently and be nurtured throughout a career, but that’s not always feasible in a world of 70-hour workweeks and family commitments. There are ways to jump start a network that’s out-of-date and to rebuild rapport with former friends and colleagues.
Dead Ends

First, you actually have to find these people. The email address you used a year ago may yield only a bounceback message now. Michael Duncan, 44, was laid off from a software-development firm in late October. While working for the same company for 11 years, Mr. Duncan hadn’t done much networking. “I just had this assumption that I didn’t need to worry about it,” he says.

To rebuild his network he emailed former colleagues, did Internet searches and asked ex-coworkers to reconnect him to people they have stayed in touch with. But Mr. Duncan has had trouble locating former managers for references, particularly a manager who moved overseas, whom he still hasn’t found.

Social- and business-networking sites such as LinkedIn and Plaxo are good ways to find old connections. LinkedIn officials say the site has seen a 36% increase in membership over the past six months as executives scramble to rebuild their networks. You can search by name or company to find old acquaintances. Personalize your network invitation request with a memory the two of you shared or a reminder of who you are, says Cheryl Yung, a senior vice president of outplacement firm Lee Hecht Harrison. Once you’ve re-established your relationship, you can also view the friends of your connections, and request an introduction to people at companies that interest you.

If you already have a LinkedIn account, keep it current. An update on David Stevens’s LinkedIn status indicating that he was “up for grabs” spurred one of his contacts to alert him to a job opportunity. He interviewed for the job and within two weeks of being laid off, he was back at work.

Once you’ve located people in your old network, a simple holiday card to a former manager or colleague — or calling to wish them a happy New Year — can reopen dialogue, says Ms. Yung.

It can be daunting or uncomfortable contacting people you haven’t spoken to in years — especially when you’ve just been laid off. But, you can use the spirit of the season as a crutch; December and January are prime months to get reacquainted with old friends and colleagues. Also, try to attend as many holiday parties as you can; look for people you’ve lost touch with and speak to people you’ve never met, advises Bettina Seidman, a New York career-management counselor.

Once you’ve made contact, arrange a meeting. “Email and networking sites speed up the communication, but they don’t do the networking for you,” says Liz Lynch, author of “Smart Networking: Attract a Following In Person and Online.” Career coaches say it’s critical to set up in-person meetings and attend networking events. Be mindful of your contact’s time; you might not be the only one asking for help. Ask for 10 minutes to chat, or offer to catch up over coffee or lunch, says Ms. Lynch.
Professional Groups

If you’ve exhausted your efforts to find people or need to start from scratch, professional associations are a good place to begin. Associations give you access to other professionals who may work for or have contacts within companies you want to work with. Finding a local chapter is as easy as plugging your industry and the word “association” or “society” into a search engine, says Laura Hill, a career coach with The Five O’Clock Club in New York.

Once you find the association, join up and look for events the local chapters are holding. It’s an opportunity to network with people who will speak your industry language.

If you’ve been in a more senior executive position, consider volunteering to speak at industry and trade conferences or offer to serve on committees for professional associations, says Ms. Seidman. Volunteering to work at professional events like speaking occasions, luncheons and networking affairs are also great ways to meet people, says Ms. Hill.
Back to School

Alumni associations can also be helpful. In wake of the financial crisis, many colleges are ramping up their alumni services and even holding career fairs and networking events for alumni, says Ms. Lynch. Contact your alma mater’s alumni-relations office to get access to their online database. Once there, you can search for old friends by name or class, or search for alumni at different companies or industries you are interested in working in, says Ms. Hill.

Informal networking can also help. If you find yourself standing in line at the bank or grocery store, strike up a conversation with the person behind you, says Susan Guarneri, a career coach based in Three Lakes, Wis. “You should network with everyone you meet because you don’t know who they know,” says Ms. Guarneri, who once got a job after receiving a tip from her exterminator.

And remember, networking is a give-and-take experience. Figure out what you can offer — whether it be a contact, a lunch or a favor. “It gives the signal that you’re in it for the two of you,” says Ms. Lynch.

Write to Dana Mattioli at dana.mattioli@wsj.com

http://online.wsj.com/article/SB122937013420507837.html

Speeding Up the Process of Finding a New Position

If you find yourself suddenly unemployed or if you were laid off months ago, it’s probably no surprise to hear that it could be several months before you’re gainfully employed again. According to employment experts, these days it can take six months to find a job after a layoff. Here’s how to manage an extended job search:

Do a self assessment. Take a step back and decide if you’re working in the industry that’s right for you and using your strongest skills. Before beginning your job search — or if you’ve been at it a while without success — evaluate where your skills will be the best utilized. Deanna Leonard, executive vice president of Williams, Roberts, Young Inc., an executive coaching firm in Winston-Salem, N.C., advises her clients to take a Myers Brigg test or other psychological assessments to get a handle on strengths and weaknesses.

Have a financial plan in order. Take an inventory of your financial responsibilities, savings and debts and construct a financial plan to sustain you; if you did so early on, but the search is dragging out, reassess your plan. Register for health insurance or Cobra benefits immediately; laid-off employees generally have up to just 60 days to register for Cobra once they receive their eligibility notice, says Ms. Leonard. File for unemployment as soon as you’re eligible, as there may be a lag time in getting benefits.

Go beyond the usual suspects. “The hidden job market accounts for 70% of jobs out there, and the only way to reach [them] is by networking,” says Ali Chambers, vice president of ClearRock, an executive coaching and outplacement firm in Boston. Whether it’s by reconnecting with contacts over coffee, attending meetings of professional and trade groups or finding old colleagues on LinkedIn, networking is integral to landing a job today. “Don’t spend all day on the job boards when you should be out shaking hands and meeting people,” says Ms. Leonard.

Make yourself stand out. Hiring managers are flooded with résumés nowadays. Brett Good, president of recruiting firm Robert Half International’s Southern California and Arizona locations, says your résumé should have “return on investment statements” that show potential employers how you can generate revenue, save money, or otherwise make an impact on an organization.

Stay relevant. Stay on top of developments in your industry through newsletters or a professional group. If you’ve been out of work for several months, consider enrolling in a technology class or seminar related to your field at a community college to build on your skills. There are also free online seminars given by professional organizations, says Tony Santora, senior vice president for Right Management’s Transition Center of Excellence, which is responsible for the outplacement firm’s strategy for career-transition services globally.

Be patient. Job searches are taking longer because hiring managers are interviewing more people for open positions than in years past, says Mr. Good. Update interviewers with whom you’ve had a positive experience about your status. And temper your follow-ups with “enthusiasm and professionalism” without becoming a pest by calling too often, says Ms. Chambers.

Write to Dana Mattioli at dana.mattioli@wsj.com

http://online.wsj.com/article/SB123240264772595351.html?mod=todays_us_personal_journal

Out of Office: Job Loss in the Age of Blogs and Twitter

By NICK WINGFIELD and PUI-WING TAM

It’s been decades since Americans had this much time on their hands and — thanks to the Web — never have there been so many opportunities to burn it.

In November, Julia Otto was headed to her first day on a new job, car keys in hand, as an administrative assistant with a New Orleans construction company when her phone rang. Her position was eliminated before she even started.

Now, when she’s not sending out resumes or doing household chores, the 43-year-old spends several hours a day playing games. Her favorite is an adventure-puzzle game called “Mystery Case Files: Return to Ravenhearst,” where she hunts for clues inside a spooky mansion to unlock a mystery. She spends about $7 a month playing games on the Big Fish Games site.

“They’re an affordable way to help forget,” says Ms. Otto. “It’s not soap operas and chocolate.”

As Americans — grappling with layoffs and grim economic news — try to find ways to fill their time, the Internet is helping people with job searches. But the medium is performing another important role: a social anesthesia that distracts people from the stress of unemployment.

During the Great Depression, many unemployed workers spent entire afternoons watching films at movie houses like this in Eugene, Ore.

As the nation grapples with rising layoffs and grim economic news, more and more people are escaping by goofing off online. Are you spending extra time on the Internet lately? Share your views in Journal Community.

Internet games, gambling and other forms of online entertainment have seen significant surges in use in the several months since the economic downturn deepened. Social-networking services like Facebook, blogs and discussion forums — all well-known time sinks even during good times — are also seeing strong growth. Some purveyors of online entertainment say business has never been so good for them.

Robert Kraut, a professor of social psychology and human computer interaction at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, says games and other forms of entertainment can provide escape for people steeped in anxieties about the economy. “There’s evidence these distractions have a psychological benefit because they prevent a downward spiral of rumination,” says Dr. Kraut.

The trend echoes the escape mechanisms that people turned to during the Great Depression in the 1930s. At the time, people paid a nickel to spend entire afternoons and evenings watching films featuring Charlie Chaplin and others, cartoons and newsreels, says Gary Handman, a director at the Media Resources Center at the University of California at Berkeley.

Mr. Handman believes the Internet is assuming a similar role now in part because of how relatively inexpensive it is compared with, say, a $10 movie ticket that buys only a couple of hours of entertainment, even though movie attendance is strong. “The Internet, in particular, has blown everything else away,” Mr. Handman says. “People are getting their entertainment for free wherever they can.”

Many online entertainment categories were seeing steady growth even before the economy took a turn for the worse a few months ago, and public interest in the November U.S. presidential election also drove traffic to online video, social networking and other sites. But the sudden rise in usage in some online categories at the end of the year stands out from past growth trends.

The number of visitors to online game sites jumped 29.9% during the fourth quarter of last year, compared with a 0.3% decline during the same period the prior year, according to comScore Inc. Traffic on Internet gambling sites soared 28.6% over the holiday quarter, compared with a 26.9% decline over the holiday season the previous year, comScore says.

For Big Fish Games, the company behind “Mystery Case Files,” business has never been better. Revenue jumped 70% to $85 million last year, and the best sales in its seven-year history occurred in January, says Jeremy Lewis, the Seattle company’s chief executive. In January, Big Fish’s membership grew 110% faster than in September, the month before the economy worsened — an unusual development since its subscriptions typically grow at a steady rate throughout the year, says Mr. Lewis. The company currently has more than 30 job openings.

People are escaping online in other ways too. On Monday, the popular celebrity gossip hound who goes by the name Perez Hilton said in a post on his Web site that January was his biggest month ever for traffic. “When times are tough, you turn to PerezHilton.com!” he wrote. Last week, the online movie rental service Netflix Inc. said its number of subscribers grew 26% over the holidays to 9.4 million, compared with 18% in the same period the year before.

Monica Ross-Williams, 38, gravitated to a different form of online escape late last year. Ms. Ross-Williams, who launched a janitorial services business in Canton, Mich., last June, remains underemployed because of the slow economy, scratching out just nine hours of work a week for three clients. With so much time to fill, she joined professional social-networking site LinkedIn in October to start connecting with business contacts.

In December, she also joined social networking site Facebook and started reconnecting with high-school friends. Last month, Ms. Ross-Williams also jumped at the chance to become the online moderator of a small business Web forum where she spends about two hours a day posting notes and cleaning up comments by other users. “Time flies now,” she says.

There’s precedent for a surge in online usage during traumatic times. Past studies have shown bursts of Internet activity around events such as the 9/11 terrorist attacks, when many people went online to gather information and express their feelings and concerns, says Dr. Kraut of Carnegie Mellon. In such situations, he says, people turn to Internet discussion groups, blogs and other communications tools for “sensemaking,” as they sort out with others the change roiling the world around them.

Larry Hawes, 47, was laid off from his job as a consultant at International Business Machines Corp. in November. But he has never lost touch with his former co-workers. The Ipswich, Mass., resident spends a lot more time building up his personal blog, which is dubbed “Together, We Can!” He also sends out more Twitters, a service for broadcasting short messages to a circle of friends and associates. He says he is on Twitter all day, sending out about 10 posts a day to a group of 137 people, including former IBM colleagues and other friends. In total, he adds, he’s sent out 652 “tweets” since October.

“I’m maintaining relationships with IBM-ers because I don’t work there anymore,” says Mr. Hawes.

Others find comfort in new friendships forged in unemployment. Prior to October, Cara Wayman, 27, spent very little time online. With her full-time job at a nursing home as a nurse assistant and as a part-time student studying for a sociology-psychology degree, the resident of Lynn, Mass., says she only logged in online two to three times a week for 15 minutes a pop. But in October, Ms. Wayman was laid off from her nursing-home job and she now spends five hours a day online. When she wants to switch off entirely, Ms. Wayman plays Sudoku and other games “to step out of reality,” she says.

But much of her time is spent job seeking on social-networking sites and even the “General Hospital Happenings” forum for denizens of the daytime television soap opera. Her interactions quickly evolved from just job-searching to online friendships. “It’s kind of like a support group,” she says. “I refresh pages a billion times” to see if people have replied to my posts, says Ms. Wayman. All of this time spent online is “kind of embarrassing,” she says.

She’s not alone. Shirley Condon of Colleyville, Texas, runs the General Hospital forum and says the economy has reshaped the tone and purpose of the discussions. The stay-at-home mother of two teenage daughters says the number of visits to the forum has surged to as many as 20,000 visits a week, from 10,000 last year. More and more of the recent postings in the forum have been about the economy, rather than “General Hospital,” says Ms. Condon.

“A lot of the people have lost their jobs and can’t afford shrinks so they’re coming on the site and asking, ‘How do I handle it?’ ” she says. “People are frantic. There’s more drama in real life now for sure than on the TV.”

Write to Nick Wingfield at nick.wingfield@wsj.com and Pui-Wing Tam at pui-wing.tam@wsj.com
Printed in The Wall Street Journal, page A11

http://online.wsj.com/article/SB123362401231641879.html