How To Brand Yourself Authentically In Six Simple Steps

This article originally appeared on Forbes

Whether you are a CEO, startup founder, entrepreneur or employee, you need to learn how to brand yourself if you want to stand out from the pack.

I’m someone who always believed that the quality of my work should speak for itself and that everyone would automatically see the value of my hard work. So, early in my career, I put my head down, took on enormous workloads and waited to be rewarded. However, that never happened. In many cases, others would be rewarded with the recognition, promotions and income that I deserved because I had put too much trust in others to properly tell my story and communicate my value.

After constantly being let down, I had to come to grips with the fact that I had to change my tune, take control of my narrative and create a personal brand, not only within my organization but within my industry, so I would never be sold short again.

Once I created a personal brand, my career trajectory exploded, and the visibility I created as a thought leader paid dividends to the point where people approached me for opportunities instead of my seeking them out. I really wish I had someone to show me the ropes early in my career because I would likely be much further along.

Needless to say, I don’t take branding a person lightly, and I am going to pay it forward and share some of the same secret sauce on personal branding that I use to advise high performers at Unleash Your Identity.

1. Identify your unique value proposition

Identify your target audience and the value you bring to that audience in a way no one else can. What are the key attributes that make people or companies want to work with you? What is consistent about what you bring to the table? What is unique about your personality or style of working? How can you use that to make an impact?

These are all questions to ask yourself as you identify your unique value proposition, which will influence your personal brand statement and the way you position yourself to others.

2. Create a personal brand statement

Your personal brand statement takes everything we discussed previously and summarizes it for your target audience. Your brand statement should include what you do, what your values are and what the purpose is behind what you do in a way that is compelling to your audience. While crafting your statement, make sure you think about what value you bring to the table and why someone should spend their money on you.

3. Develop a professional presence online

It’s no secret that people search online when they want to learn more about a person or organization. Despite knowing this, many do not take the time to create a professional online presence. Your profile picture and the presentation of information on your website and social media accounts are visual representations of your brand and should align with your brand statement.

LinkedIn, for instance, provides tremendous opportunity to make close connections with people who you may not otherwise have access to. Consequently, make sure your online presence matches the vision you have for branding yourself.

4. Extend your industry visibility

One of the best ways to amplify your brand is to create a cross-channel content strategy focused on hot topics in your industry. You can kick off your content creation by writing articles on your blog and/or LinkedIn to demonstrate your thought leadership. You can also share relevant articles with your audience along with your point of view on LinkedIn to keep your content plan flowing and active at times when you don’t have your own content to post.

Writing for industry publications is even better. You can use authoritative websites to tap into large audiences and increase your visibility and credibility. More importantly, you can convert their audiences into your customers in a way that you couldn’t do on your platforms if you tried.

Another great method for growing your brand is participating in industry events. Being a regular at relevant events and industry associations can help you expand your network and create meaningful relationships. You can even take it a step further and speak at events to position yourself as an industry expert.

5. Look into personal branding consultants and coaches

The accountability, structure and validation a coach provides can save you a lot of wasted time trying to figure it out on your own. Make no mistake, having a great coach is invaluable for everyone, even if you can do a lot on your own. After all, coaches need coaches, too. I worked with a coach when I started to extend my personal brand throughout the advertising industry and, magically, opportunities started to present themselves to me.

It’s important to have the right mindset when working with external help though. Consultants and coaches help create a tailored game plan for your success, but it is still up to you to consistently execute and perform at a high level.

6. Use your brand to maximize your potential

Your personal brand is what will speak for you when you are not in the room. So, you need to be intentional about creating a personal brand and actually invest the time to map out a plan of action and execute it.

There will always be more work to do, another fire to put out and another excuse to not get your head out of the weeds so you can focus on you. There is only so much you can do on your own, so brand yourself in a way that multiplies the value others see in you when you’re not around.

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