Personal branding is about deciding to take an active role in the direction of your life. You benefit from creating a personal brand because it allows you to self-manage your life and stop depending on others to do it for you. Your personal brand helps you make the most of what you’ve got to offer.
PERMISSION TO BE YOURSELF
The personal branding process assures you that it’s okay to be yourself. If you’ve built your life on pretenses — on attempts to be someone you are not — this assurance is a huge relief. Personal branding is about expressing your authentic self by allowing you to be the person you are meant to be.
The strategic process of personal branding makes you an active partner in creating the direction of your life. You get to decide what your unique promise of value is and who you want to share it with.
GAINS IN CONFIDENCE
You develop confidence as you develop your personal brand. That confidence comes from looking at your strengths and knowing that you have many positive qualities to share. When you know that you have something of value to offer, your self-esteem soars. Your personal brand done well highlights your strengths and gives you a direction in which to use them.
As an added bonus, personal branding also minimizes your weaknesses. It’s human nature to want to improve your weaknesses, but by crafting your brand, you can determine whether you really need to use your weakest skills at all.
Your target audience wants to know that you can do what you say you’re going to do. You build credibility not through your words but through your actions. If you live your personal brand and keep your brand promise to your target market, you are automatically on the path to credibility.
Your actions, which align with your brand, validate that you can be trusted and show that you are credible.
SHOWCASING YOUR SPECIALTY
You need to specialize and have an area of expertise. When asked what you do best, your answer can’t be “everything.” No one knows what that means. To develop a specialty, the best place to start is with what you know.
What can you do that few others know how to do? What segment of the population do you understand better than most people in your field do?
You have a unique combination of work experience, life experience, and personal characteristics that create the foundation for determining your niche. To be known in a certain niche, you are wise to choose an area of expertise or market segment that you know well and that you enjoy.
LEAVING YOUR MARK
Part of the branding process is becoming known for something. Your first step is to identify your best characteristics so that you know what to build on.
In a way, developing a personal brand is a means of ensuring that you leave a legacy. People will remember you through your actions, your expertise, and the emotional connections that you make.
But keep in mind that strong brands often repel as much as they attract; not everyone belongs in your target audience. Defining who you are means that you need to be brave enough to let your true self be visible.
CONNECTION TO YOUR TARGET AUDIENCE
Personal branding success requires communicating your message to the right people — not necessarily to the entire world. And it requires communicating in a way that creates emotional connections with your target audience. You simply cannot build a solid brand without building relationships, which are based on emotional connections.
Building a strong personal brand helps you interact with your target audience in a clear, consistent way that quickly becomes familiar. That consistency builds trust in your target audience, which allows those emotional connections to form.
DISTINGUISHING YOURSELF FROM THE COMPETITION
You are hardwired to notice what is different. You notice the person dressed in red in a sea of black clothing. Differentiation is crucial to your personal branding success.
If you are like everyone else in the market, you are a commodity, and you look the same to the customer as all the other options. If your target market discerns nothing special about you, it’s easy for the customer to pass you by.
THE SUPPORT YOU NEED
People genuinely want to help you. The problem is that if you are vague about what you need, no one is going to jump in and try to figure your life out for you (except perhaps your mother).
You need to be clear about who you are and what you need so that you can ask for support with clarity. If you know what you need, you know what to ask for. Defining your personal brand helps you determine your needs and identify who is most likely able to fulfill them.
FOCUSING YOUR ENERGY
You are probably as crazy busy as everyone else is. A benefit of having a personal brand is that when you have a clear understanding of who you are, what you do best, who you want to work with, and how you want to use your talents, you also know what you don’t want in your life.
Using your personal brand like a filter allows you to more easily say yes to the right opportunities and say no to the wrong opportunities. You know what is “on brand” and what is “off brand” for you. Branding gives you clarity so that you can focus your energy on what’s truly important to you.
LETTING YOURSELF BE LAZY
A personal brand helps you avoid the need to reinvent yourself and the tools you use in your professional life. After you pinpoint your expertise, your goal is to use it over and over so that you reap maximum benefits from it. (Perhaps you write an article that is then broken down into blog posts and later becomes the subject of a presentation to a professional association.)
The beauty of personal branding is that while it’s never static (you always want to learn and grow), it thrives on consistency. And consistency requires you to use key pieces of your branding puzzle again and again even as your personal brand evolves. So do your tough work up front and reap the rewards down the road. And remind yourself that it’s sometimes good to be lazy!