Updated: Aug 17, 2019
How to develop a personal brand and differentiate yourself from your peers.
One of my favorite things to discuss is personal branding. What is a personal brand? We know that for years products have always had brands. For me, for whatever reason, I usually purchase major brands even though it is possible that the generic product is the same quality but I am still willing to pay the extra 50 cents to a dollar for the more well-known brand. Let’s say that we all have to buy toiletries and we can go to Target, Walmart, or Meijer’s but you choose to go into one of those stores on purpose because of how it makes you feel even if you have to pay a few cents more for the same product that they sell across the street for a little bit less. So what is that? Companies have had brands forever and the concept of a personal brand is that we have a brand as people. We have college degrees, work experience, we are all smart and talented, and have good life experiences. But if you look around you see some people who are more accomplished, have more opportunities, and more success but why is that? Some people would say it is because of their personal brands.
Personal brand is a combination of things. Most importantly, it is your intellect and knowledge but it is also how you speak, how you look, your reputation, and what other people say about you and how you make other people feel. It is interesting because personal brand is not what you think or say about yourself, it’s about what others say about you when you are not in the room. I want to share ways of how you build that when you seemingly don’t have control over what others say about you.
The good news is that you do have some control. I want to share three activities you can do to begin to access and build your brand. The first thing to do is self-reflect by using some resources like Myers Briggs, Strengths finder, or the Disc Assessment but take one of those and learn what your strengths are. It is so much easier to identify a strength rather than try to turn a weakness into a strength. The thing about branding is that you aren’t creating a persona but you are building upon who you are as a person. Secondly, identify 5 friends that you trust that can give you honest feedback and ask them to share the first three words that come to mind that describe you. I did this activity with a few of my friends and it was enlightening to hear how others saw me.
The final activity which you may have done already but google yourself! It’s not just about who you are in one on one interactions but also what is out there in the cyber world about you and what is written and said. Guess what, every employer will google you, you meet someone on the street who will look you up. Just know what comes up about yourself and begin to control that online message. Your online presence and who you would like to be should align and match.
One thing we can control is being selective and discerning around things we decide to partake in. For example, I did this activity a few years ago then I set a vision for myself that I was going to change the world by helping others live in their greatness and utilize their full potential. I specifically wanted to focus on marginalized communities: people of color, women, young people, and poor people. This is what I wanted my brand to be. Now when people ask me to sit on boards for health and wellness or anything else outside of what I decided I want my brand to be, I have to make clear cut decisions on what I will commit to or not to ensure that it all fits within my brand.
You have to make it public! Share your vision and your personal brand on social media outlets and LinkedIn. This is not about how you feel about yourself but how others see, feel, and say about you. If you do that, you never know who has the key to open the door to many opportunities for you.
Dominique Jordan Turner is passionate about helping first generation college graduates to become successful first generation professionals. She shares what she calls the "unwritten rules" that aren't taught to you in college. Follow DJT on social media @DJTspeaks and subscribe on her website www.DominiqueJordanTurner.com for upcoming webinars and live events.