The current job market is uncertain while companies are more and more demanding when it comes to new hires. If you can’t prove that you add extra value to your position, your job may be in jeopardy. Any other person could do what you do for less money. For example, saying: I am a translator, is not enough anymore. But if you introduce yourself saying: I am a translator specializing in crime fiction, chances are you’ll draw the attention of potential employers and customers in that specific niche. You need personal branding to stand out in a crowded market.
To become a successful professional in today’s world, you must become the CEO of You. That is, create your own personal brand that portrays what makes you unique and valuable to potential employers. This in turn will allow you to live off of your passions and skills.
WHO ARE YOU & WHAT CAN YOU DO? Defining your personal brand will boost both your career and your happiness. When you love your work, there is no room for frustration or burnout. If you’re still not sure about who you are and what you do best, these steps will help you.
Pinpoint your vision. What do you really care for? If you could change anything today, what would you do? Which causes or NGO do you support? Answering these questions will help you identify the values that drive you (innovation, harmony, justice, etc.). What kind of a world do you want to live in and what legacy would you like to leave?
Define your mission. This is your contribution to create the world you would like to live in. How can you help make it be that way? Imagine that you are writing your own obituary or eulogy or giving a speech in celebration of your 100th birthday. Now, what are the things people would congratulate you for or remember about you?
Make a list of your best qualities. Be honest and list the attributes that really define you, not the “ideal” ones that you aspire to. Be aware that your brand can’t and shouldn’t attempt to appeal to everyone. Begin with the words I am a ___ person, and complete the sentence (creative, passionate, responsible, etc.) Also, ask your trusted loved ones what they think are the three attributes that best define you.
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List your skills. This should include your main achievements in your current and former positions, the subjects that you loved in college and those you are passionate about now, as well as those things you do effortlessly and with pleasure.
Put your goals in writing. At this point, you have enough material to formulate goals that really motivate you. Write down a list of short, medium and long term goals along with the steps you can take to achieve them. Then, let it rest and don’t obsess. Review it a few days late. Once your goals are set, prepare friendly reminders for yourself: post-its, alarms, vision boards… And remember you can update them and even change your mind about them anytime.
Establish your target audience. Those are the people who can participate in the realization of your goals, as well as the people (“prescribers: or “connectors”) who can help you access other individuals to support your cause. If you are a writer who wants to publish a book, your target audience are not the readers, but the publishers. Your possible connectors may be fellow writers who have already published their own books and could introduce you to their publishers, or acquaintances who work in the publishing industry.
Learn to manage your online persona. The Internet is a showcase for your brand, so strive to give a consistent picture of who you are. Be very careful with the photos and comments you post on Facebook, Twitter, blogs and forums, as they will stay there forever. Google yourself and find out what the Web says about you, so that you can update the information regularly.
Network. Interact with your contacts so they help you promote your brand, but do not abuse them. They are not tools, but busy people with their own lives, feelings and interests. Be generous and don’t overwhelm your colleagues with tons of information about you. Social media is made to share knowledge, facts, and opinions. From time to time, ask them how they´re doing and try to help or connect like-minded people to return the favor.
Looks matter. When meeting a client or attending an event, you need to look in keeping with what you want to convey. Choose an outfit that speaks for itself, because body language is very powerful. Also, find that little detail that distinguishes you: bright colors, a nice vintage brooch on your blazer, a funny business card… Remember, you won’t have a second chance to give a great first impression.
Overall, take the time to truly get to know yourself, your needs and wants, and where you fit into the big picture. Once you understand yourself and your place in the job market, you will be equipped to take on the world.