Personal Image and Branding

With so much personal information floating around about me (and others) on the web, from blogs to Facebook to LinkedIn to Twitter, I've become increasingly aware of the messages I'm sending to the world. Right now they seem scattered, impermanent and miscellaneous. Who am I? - it's a question I will be asking for a long time. But right now the more appropriate question seems to be "who am I" to the World Wide Web and it's millions of users? To my boss and my co-workers? Of the abundance of available information about me, what is the central message that captures the core of who I am and who I strive to be? Enter personal branding. I've tuned my antennae to this concept recently, and wanted to share a number of resources with you on how to create and convey a powerful message of who you are and what you can deliver to this world.

Blog: I mentioned a site called Idea Sandbox earlier this week that focuses on creative problem solving and branding. Here's a post called "Elevator Pitch: YOUR TV Show Opening Narration" about boiling down messages you deliver about what you do (or what you are working on). Paul also put together a FANTASTIC resource called "Pave Your Life Roadmap" that walks you through simple exercises for identifying your passions, finding themes to arrive at core values, articulating what is important to you and what you want in your life, and bringing it home with action steps. This is one of the most simple (and fun!) approaches to life planning I've seen in a long time, and I find that no matter how many times I think, "I've already done that" - I come up with something new.

Update: Check out Dan Schwabel's Personal Branding Blog for more great resources. Thanks for getting in touch, Dan!

Article: The Brand Called You (Fast Company). "Big companies understand the importance of brands. Today, in the Age of the Individual, you have to be your own brand." The author, Tom Peters, breaks his advice down to address the following key questions: What makes you different? What is your pitch? What's the real power of you? What is the future of you? The article is detailed and thought-provoking - definitely worth a read.

Podcast: Authors Christine Hassler (20-Something, 20-Everything), Alexandra Levit (They Don't Teach Corporate in College), and Lindsey Pollak (Getting From College to Career) chat about "how to establish and communicate your personal brand, why a strong personal brand is essential in the 21st century work world, and how to effectively self-promote without bragging." Listen to the Podcast.

TV: Donny Deutsch's Big Idea: What's Your Brand? "Successful people know exactly who and what they are - and the most successful brands evolve. Four cornerstones to brilliant branding and help you create your business and personal mission statement for success."

Book: Career Distinction - Stand Out by Building Your Brand (William Arruda). From the inside flap, "As a professional, your reputation is your most valuable career asset. Whether you're climbing the ladder at your current company or seeking a new job, in today's fast-paced work environment, you must proactively and continuously position yourself for success. Your credibility, visibility, personality, and personal style all make up your brand. Build and nurture your personal brand and you'll make yourself a must-have, can't-fail professional—and you'll do it without having to be someone you're not."

Arruda describes the following key elements to building a brand:

  • Brand yourself for career success
  • Determine how others perceive you
  • Develop your unique value proposition
  • Define your target audience
  • Tell your brand story
  • Express yourself clearly and consistently
  • Build and manage your online identity
  • Stay on-message and on-brand every day
  • Increase your "career karma

As for my brand? Still working on it. :)