Every now and then you hear the crazy valuations of startups (which have becomes brands), but how often do you think of the valuations of your own professional brand called “YOU”? Every big brand (company) constitutes of people with different set of expertise, but it's actually the combined team effort of individual people (YOU) which makes that brand standout.
In today’s world, everyone has an online presence – be it to stay connected with friends/family, to express yourself, or to be visible to recruiters to get discovered. So what is it that differentiates you from the crowd of many similar other online profiles? It's your own brand value that makes you take a lead from others.
The consumer world is driven by Brands. Your laptop, watch, shirt, mobile, etc., all are from the brands which ultimately stand out from the crowd. These are the brand names that comes to your mind whenever you think of a product these companies make. Every good company wants to associate themselves with people having higher brand value in specific skillsets, whether it is software development, marketing, sales, etc.
Startup and entrepreneurs needs to stand out from the crowd to be a leader, and become visible to the world as a brand. In order for you to stand out from the crowd, you need to start projecting yourself amongst the decision makers in your area of expertise. Nobody will tell the world that you are an expert in a particular topic, you have to do it yourself.
So what exactly is a brand?
A brand in simple words is your promise to deliver on expectations no matter what. You as a brand is a promise that you make to anyone who believes in you or your product. People stick to a brand because of the trust it has build upon them. Customers spends their time and money on a brand. A brand resides more in the minds of people than as any tangible entity. It’s more about what customers think when they hear of a brand’s name, that is, what (and of whom) do people think of when they hear of a particular skillset. Do they think of you? This is what differentiates you from your competitors.
Why should you invest in branding yourself?
Everyone holds a brand value of oneself. We represent our own professional brand. For example, if you are an employee at a company and decide to move from company A to company B, you carry your brand along with you. You represent your own brand. Therefore, your focus should be always on making the brand YOU bigger, more valuable and more visible to the world.
Are you a brand?
How to determine if you (as a professional) are considered a brand? Ask yourself, what is it that YOU offers that others in your area of work do not? Here are few questions you can ask yourself to know that:
- Are you considered dependable when it comes to taking responsibility in workplace?
- Do people remember you for your insane work ethics that no matter what, if a task is assigned to you, it gets done?
- Do you deliver your task on time?
- Do you bring innovative ways of doing things thereby saving time and money for your company? (If you add value by delivering within budget, you will always be welcomed in any good team.)
If your answer to above points is Yes, then you are already a brand. Then comes another quick question set, you can ask yourself.
- Are you known in your professional community?
- Do you come to the mind of decision-makers in your field when they think of your skillsets?
If your answer is No, you need to market/sell yourself in order to be known in your professional community. In this Internet age, your presence is not limited just within a region you are located, but across the globe. So if you are really good at certain skills, you can be hired by anyone from any other part of the world.
Share your knowledge
In this age of social media, it is not hard to bring across to the world the knowledge which you have already acquired. This could be achieved in various ways. Some of them are:
- Write blogs: Blogging is one of the most impactful ways you can share your learnings with others. Start writing about topic in your domain. The topic of your blog could be as simple as “Introduction to <<a topic of your interest>>”.
- Use social media: You can share your knowledge on various social media platform regularly, thereby building a follower list of yourself.
- Be a speaker: Volunteer to give talks in local meetups (or conferences or events) on any of topic of your interest. The idea is to share your knowledge. There are so many meetup organisers always looking for speakers for their meetups. This will make you stand out as an expert in your area of work.
- Become an author: Start writing books on any topic of your areas of expertise. There is so much help available online, which will help you get started with it. You can even self-publish it online on various platform.
Tips to sell yourself as a brand:
- Introduce yourself differently: When asked to introduce, most people normally use the name of their workplace in the first sentence of their response such as “I <your name> work at <company name> as <job title>”. Although there is nothing wrong with this statement, it somehow overshadows one’s qualities by projecting the workplace name first. Of course the company name is part of one’s identity, but projecting a quality which is independently his/her will be more impactful when it comes to projecting oneself as a brand. In order to make an impact on others, one need to be different and say something that is about YOU rather than about the company you work for.
- Be different, sell yourself: Every field has lot of people competing in the same space to be known. In order to stand out of crowd, you have to change your approach when you find opportunities to be a leader. You need to do things differently. You need to always sell yourself – it could be your startup idea or applying for your dream job.
- Be confident for what you offer: You need to be very confident about your skills and have strong belief in your ability to deliver. It can only be achieved when you are really good at it. This belief reinforces confidence in the mind of your employer about you. Ever heard of a good brand which is not confident about its products? The same concept applies to YOU as a brand.
- Be original: You can only make a lasting impact on people by being original and real to the core. Being fake will neither take anyone far in life, nor will anyone want to associate with such a person. Your passion for any skill must be real. That is what will define you as a brand for your area.
Building your own brand is something you earn by investing your time into improving your skills. Nobody can ever take this away from your identity. This is what will separate you from others and make you stand out as a brand. You need to make people (your prospective employer or investor) aware of your skill sets. You also need to know how to market yourself.
Once you become a brand in your professional field, the world will come seeking you. Therefore, building your OWN brand is something that you should invest your time and focus into from today. Be a brand in your field and the world would want you!
(Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of YourStory.)