Want to Succeed? Develop a Personal Brand

by Tim Toterhi
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In today’s competitive job market, it’s not enough to have the required skills, experiences, and education requested on the job description. To truly stand out, you need to clearly demonstrate why you are the best (insert your profession here). This means identifying your X-factor and being able to communicate that in a resume, during an interview, and ultimately, on the job. Your personal brand is what you will be known for and a critical factor in helping you rise in an organization.

Having a recognizable brand or Personal Value Proposition (PVP) is a tricky thing. As we move through our careers, we often accumulate so many experiences and learning points that it becomes difficult to settle on which to highlight. But that decision is critical. After all people don’t remember what you’ve done. They only remember (if you’re lucky) what you’ve promoted and only what you’ve promoted most recently. Your PVP, in its most basic form, is what people know and say about you…often when you are not in the room.

The first step in promoting your brand is to know what you are hoping to build. I have clients start by designing an ad for themselves i.e. If they were a product or service, what would their packaging say? And how would that differ from other professionals in the field?


The Ultimate Career Brand Formula

An effective personal brand burst or elevator pitch quickly describes how you can help the person you are talking to and, more importantly, how your approach goes beyond what others offer. Since every role and industry is different, I have my coaching clients work through the following formula to develop their value proposition.

I specialize in helping XXX, by providing YYY that ensures ZZZ.

This goes beyond the traditional approach/professional in the space by offering ABC.

For example, one could say he/she specializes in helping to on-board new sales managers, by providing targeted training and coaching that ensures they quickly make the transition from individual achievement to leading through others. [he/she] goes beyond the traditional approach by measuring historical output and demonstrating ROI for services provided.  

Once the initial version is complete, the individual works to refine and personalize the message, ensuring alignment with his/her skills, purpose, and actual service offering.

Having a PVP is critical in setting yourself apart from the competition. If you can’t explain why you are worth hiring, promoting, or retaining then you’ve lost your audience before you’ve begun.


Keep It Real

In pursuit of a new or revised personal brand, many career coaches advise people to “fake it till they make it,” and “act as if” (they run the place). The thought being that with practice, you’ll eventually become the persona you embody. It seems like an optimistic, forward-thinking personal branding strategy, but most people can see the see past the posturing.

To avoid a bravado backfire, strive for authenticity and congruency – that is, having little to no gap between who you are when “on stage” and those moments when no one is watching.

It takes a lot of energy to don a false persona so be yourself and share your story. People gravitate toward transparency and are inspired by truth so save the stress and let them see the real you. After all, no one raves about the generic Brand X product. You need a unique personal brand to get noticed. More importantly however, is the accuracy of your packaging. Consumers loathe being duped. Truth trumps all. When it comes to your personal brand, don’t be a poser.  Earn it before you speak it.

Tim Toterhi
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