There is a lot of talk today about personal branding. The tools available are plentiful. Social media tools such as LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook and the up-and-coming Quora allow you to easily get your personal brand out to the world.
Create your personal brand
Additionally, tools such as Blogger and WordPress allow you to set up a blog or website – or both – within minutes. If you would like to publish a book, you no longer need to submit a manuscript to multiple publishers until one of them accepts it. You can self-publish for a relatively small outlay of cash.
If you want to write articles, online magazines – ezines – offer an excellent way to get your brand published and noticed.
The whole branding phenomenon began back in 1997 when famed business writer Tom Peters published the now famous article “A Brand Called You” in Fast Company Magazine. If you have never read this article, I would strongly encourage you to read it now. If you have read it, I’d urge you to read it again. I’ve been a Tom Peters fan since he wrote the ground-breaking book “In Search of Excellence” with Bob Waterman in 1982. Since then, he has published scores of books and DVDs about reinventing businesses and reinventing yourself for success. “A Brand Called You” was essentially an extension of his previous writings. It just seemed to catch traction with the Fast Company crowd and with the prevalence of Web 2.0, has continued to pick up steam. It’s never been as important as it is today.
It’s a different employment market
Over the past years, the economy has been in the dumper. Home values have plummeted, the stock market plunged to historic lows and unemployment has risen to historic highs. We have recently begun to see the economy show signs of improvement, but it’s taking its own sweet time.
The stock market has risen, but shows little stability. Home sales have started to slowly increase, but will require years of improvement before home values show any significant correction. And employment is slowly starting to take hold
But it’s a different employment market than it was three years ago. While the threat of a double-dip recession is not as great as it was a year ago, businesses are still reluctant to make the commitment to hiring full-time employees. They are much more likely to turn to consulting firms to provide their labor for them. This can range from staff-augmentation firms that provide freelance experts as needed, to full solution services firms that come in to manage and fully staff enterprise-wide projects. When the work is done, the team or individuals can be swapped out for a different group of people with the expertise needed for the next project. While this costs the business more on a per-hour basis, it gives them the flexibility of having the appropriate expertise for each project without committing to hiring full-time employees whose skills may not fit the next project.
Create your personal brand to differentiate
With this trend in mind and the fact that more people are vying for these jobs, it’s more important than ever to work on your personal brand. The consulting firms and the few businesses that are hiring have the luxury of selecting the best and the brightest in the job market. What can you bring to the table that provides them with enough value to justify hiring you? Once you identify that, how do you brand yourself to convince them of that?
To start with, you should have a presence on at least a couple of the social media sites. LinkedIn is the minimum requirement. Whichever ones you are on, your message should be persistent and consistent; persistent enough to contribute regular content to develop your brand, and consistent content with each post. Signing up for ten different social media sites and never providing updates adds no persistent value. Posting a serious article on a business issue one day and then pictures of the big bash over the weekend the next day is not consistent.
After that, start a blog and write articles with serious and consistent content. Study and learn as much about the industry as you can. Share your opinions and ask others for theirs. Become part of the community, providing your input and soliciting opinions of others. It takes a while, but eventually you will start to see a response, and then another. Soon you are participating in a community. When people Google (or Bing, or whatever) your name, they will find your brand. And they’ll know what you stand for.
What have you done to brand yourself today?
If you would like to learn more about working in consulting, get Lew’s book Consulting 101: 101 Tips for Success in Consulting at Amazon.com
As always, I welcome your comments and criticisms.