The notion of branding has been getting a lot of play over the past few years. There are great reasons to brand: Scotch tape does not refer to all clear tape, although often all clear tape is called Scotch tape. Kleenex is a brand of tissues, not all tissues are Kleenex. Band-Aid is a brand, not all bandages are Band-Aids, but often, no matter who made them, all bandages are called Band-Aids. What does this have to do to building an individual brand? If you’re an attorney, a plumber, or an architect, you want to be the “brand” people think of for those professions. To be that “go to” person or company, you must build your brand.
How can you build Your Personal Brand?
#1 Decide What Makes You Special:
- What makes you the architect people remember? What makes you the plumber people want to call when they’re building a new hotel or apartment? Why should a business call you when they need an air-tight contract drawn up? These are questions that are important not only as an outside contractor. Branding is not simply for outside contractors or businesses wanting to get noticed in a competitive industry, branding can be a way for a cog in a big machine to be noticed in a positive way, so that cog can keep moving up and can become more important to an organization. And yes, if necessary, letting other people know what makes you special can help you get a better job.
- An important part of letting others know that you’re special and what makes you special is actually do something worth noticing. If there is a special kind of architecture that you’re an expert at, something that makes you stand out, then let people know that. But don’t just sell yourself with empty words. People know if you’re a fraud.
- Have a vision to show how that thing that you do special can help. If you are an expert in design let people know that; show them on your own website or blog.
#2 Get the Word Out
- Imagine there is a contract to install plumbing in a new apartment building. The bids that are turned in are similar, so the general contractor decides to do a web search to ensure all bidders are capable. What will search results reveal? A blog about how to do plumbing or how to choose the right bathroom fixtures to match the architecture of a building? Pictures of big jobs you have already completed with quotes from general contractors and business owners? Or will the general contractor find negative, hateful—and honest, posts about you?
- Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, and Facebook are also social media options that are inexpensive and often free. They need to be full of positive and business related ideas and projects. Is your Twitter feed full of dirty jokes and double entendres? Are Instagram and Facebook full of pictures of you drinking? If so, make yourself comfortable working in the mail room, because you aren’t leaving there. Almost all prospective employers will do a web search. Pictures of you passed out in your front lawn will kill your chance of being hired or promoted, even if every other part of your reputation is pristine and perfect.
#3 Make Personal Contact and Get Noticed
- If you want to advance your career, either within a large organization, or by moving to a different company, you need to be noticed. Go places where you can meet contacts and introduce yourself and make a good impression. If there is a professional organization that meets in your city or state, go. If there is not an organization, go to alumni meetings for your university. You want to meet people and make a good professional impression. Perhaps the next time that person you meet needs an attorney with solid contract writing skills, he or she will call you.
- Another way to get noticed is to get published in a trade journal. If you have a trade journal, read it and see what kind of writing style they like and then find something interesting to write about and get published. People like to hire someone they can view as an expert.
#4 Get a Mentor
- A mentor is someone who wants to help a younger person as they begin their career. The secret about being a mentor is that most people want to help. We want to feel smart and valued, and helping someone else is a way to do that. A mentor can be a boss, or it can be a social contact who works elsewhere. The two biggest things a person can gain from a mentor are lessons about what to do and what not to do; and a mentor might recommend you for a job or promotion.
#5 Keep Information Updated
- What would you think if your neighbor’s grass was two feet tall and he or she was 25 years old? You would probably think your neighbor is lazy. When you use social media, you have an obligation (to yourself and your career) to update it if you want to continue to build your brand. There are actually two reasons to do this; 1. You don’t want to appear lazy; even if you’re so busy you don’t know how to find the time. This is your obligation and potential clients, or that potential new boss doesn’t care how busy you are. 2. The more new content you post, the higher you will be on web searches. You don’t want to be the 10th John Smith attorney in Ft. Lauderdale. You want to be the first, and that happens in part by updating social media. Rebrandly blog has some suggestions about how to improve your brand’s presence online.
Building a brand isn’t just something that businesses do anymore. It is something that almost everyone who is successful does in some way. To be successful at building your brand, you should have a plan, and then follow through. You will increase your chances for success by doing these five things to build your own brand.