Today's marketplace is crowded with smart, talented executive look-alikes busy networking the old-fashioned way. They're still wrapped up in the recruiter-resume merry-go-round, hoping it will magically leapfrog them up the corporate ladder or land them a top job.
But in the new world of work, the old-fashioned way virtually guarantees you will stay lost in the crowd.
Instead, imagine you have a reputation so strong - and convey it so well – that the marketplace comes to you. It recognizes your personal value and seeks you out for your unique talents and accomplishments.
Imagine standing apart from your peers, utterly confident in expressing your distinctiveness as business leader and human being.
In our new world of work, your reputation, or personal brand, is the currency that sets you apart.
Whether you are looking to move up the corporate ladder at your current organization, find a position at another company, make a major career change or start your own enterprise, a personal brand works like a magnet, attracting all the visibility and opportunity you need to achieve your goals.
Personal branding is a strategy that allows you to shape (or reshape) how others perceive you, create visibility and drive demand for your services. Kind of like the get-off-your-backside energy in the Nike swoosh. Or the down home, "we'll stand by it" promise of L.L. Bean.
It's about letting your business colleagues - and the world, for that matter - know exactly what you stand for. Your brand synthesizes your business themes and accomplishments as well as your personal attributes in a way that powerfully conveys who you are. It is based in your authenticity – and held in the hearts and minds of those around you.
Sounds easy, huh? And it's true, the result is a disarmingly simple compilation of achievements, gifts and talents. But if you're attempting it on your own, it's a thought process guaranteed to burn a few brain cells.
According to one personal branding guru, William Aruda, it requires that you identify your personal assets and communicate your unique promise of value, clearly and consistently, by following these five steps:
1. Through a process of self-discovery, determine your goals, vision, values and passions.
2. Since perceptions are everything when it comes to building your brand, get 360* feedback from colleagues, past and present.
3. Define your brand community – among whom do you want to publicize your brand?
4. Develop your brand statement around the talents that make you unique. (This will become the foundation for your written and spoken marketing materials -- resume, personal pitches, public relations interviews,, etc.
5. Communicate your brand story – create a communications plan that publicizes and sustains your brand.
At this point, you might be wondering if every executive needs a personal brand. The answer is yes, yes, and yes!
If you want to thrive at the highest levels of corporate life and build a legacy of contribution and change, you need to manage your career with the same "mission-critical" mentality that you bring to your business initiatives; a personal brand has become an integral part of such career management.
And even if you're delightfully happy where you are, and have no plans to "move up and out", your brand is insurance that you won't fade into the corporate woodwork.
In fact, think of it this way: after all of your years of hard work and accomplishment, you absolutely owe yourself a compelling personal brand.