How to Define Your Personal Brand

Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you are undoubtedly aware of how trendy the concept “personal branding” has become. And there are as many definitions of the term “as Carter’s has pills” (to borrow one of grandfather’s favorite expressions). So what exactly does it mean to have a personal brand? Simply put, personal branding is the story of you. Think of it as a journalistic dive into your own who, what, when, where and how.

First, name the qualities that are distinct to you as an individual. That’s your who. Are you intellectually curious, uncompromising, articulate, flexible? How do others define your character traits? Even your body language says something about you.

Next, what are your skill sets? This is part of your “do.” What do you do exceedingly well? Think in terms of action verbs. Do you “perform”—or do you “spearhead”? Is the way that you perceive your performance consonant with the way your clients or colleagues perceive it? Why or why not? If you don’t know, then ask them.

When do you measure results? Do you depend on intermittent performance reviews to gauge your progress or are you driven throughout an engagement? Are you masterful at reinvention? Recall the old cigarette slogan, “You’ve come a long way, baby.” Can you relate?

Your personal brand may also be reflective of where you are. Are you a lifelong resident of a region or state? Consider how that impacts your knowledge of the market in terms of its attributes—e.g., the social, political, cultural and economic drivers.

Finally, think about how you work. Are you a leader or a follower? A visual learner or an aural one? Do you work better independently? Increase your self-awareness with an assessment tool like Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) or DiSC.

Personal branding, then, is a combination of your “who” and your “do.” Use it to assess your current situation, what you’d like to have happen and the steps you need to take to get there.

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