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“If you really want to know about business, you should refer to Scott Steinberg.” -Sir Richard Branson, Virgin Group

Personal Branding: Expert Tips for Professionals

Personal branding is one of the most important actions a businessperson can perform. These days, you’re either essential or you’re ordinary, and ordinary people tend to fade away—or out. If you don’t want to crumble into irrelevancy, make sure to invest in yourself and brand yourself. Stand out, and communicate value at a glance. It sounds intimidating, but don’t worry: there are tons of easy and inexpensive ways to build yourself as a brand. Here are a handful of tips.

Define yourself, or someone else will – It’s very important to be a subject matter expert and to communicate your value so that people know what you have to offer them. You want to have control over your own label, and if you forfeit that control, you can bet someone else will label you and shunt you into a category.

Create a singular identity— People make snap judgments based on the visual information that you present to them.  Not only is it important to create a singular identity, but you should also have something to say. Even the way you dress should have a (tasteful!) signature flourish. Musicians are experts at creating signature flourishes. Even T-Pain’s autotuned warble is distinctive: when you hear it, there’s no mistaking who’s at the other end of that microphone.

Package and present yourself like a product –Think of how Coke, Pepsi, and Reebok present themselves, then think of ways to similarly display your personal image. You need to have a simple, striking message remains consistent wherever you present yourself. From Google searches to the events you speak at, people need to know what you’re about.

Become a subject matter expert – Becoming a subject matter expert is a good way to stand out at a glance and increase your perceived worth. Moreover, moulding yourself into a subject matter expert isn’t too difficult to do. If you work for a company, pick a niche topic to focus on and then set up a corporate blog, self-publish a book, do video pieces, or share your knowledge via public speaking. Don’t forget: if you want to be perceived as an expert, you need to give, share, and demonstrate your talents. It’s also important to avoid working yourself into a corner. Whatever topic you pick, make sure it can be expanded upon.

Build media relationships – Working with the media is one way to keep yourself visible. Providing tip sheets, articles, and commentary are all good ways to make sure you stay relevant. You can utilize online resources like Help A Reporter Out (HARO) to connect with reporters in need of experts, meaning you can literally end up on CNN or in the New York Times. There are other ways, too. Set up Google Alerts to send you information about recently-published articles in your field of interest. From there, find out more about the article’s author, and reach out to them. Everybody is literally a click away, making it very easy to form relationships.

Give Before You Get – Your personal brand needs to stand for something meaningful. Create personal value through your articles and insights: show people what your singular viewpoint is worth. Make sure you’re always volunteering to showcase your talent through speaking opportunities, etc. Seek to become a trusted and familiar presence wherever your audience travels.

Help others, and help them build their brands – Once again, musicians tend to get things right as far as the “helpful” aspect of personal branding is concerned. When you look at enduring and successful acts like U2, Jay-Z, or Madonna, you begin to notice that at least some of their success is owed to the fact that they help their record labels make money. In turn, the record companies have lots of incentive to help the musicians build their brand. The same story is true across different industries. At the end of the day, if you can help others create value, they may be able to help provide you with key testimonials and other building blocks for your portfolio. Allying yourself with successful people also lets you observe how they work their magic.

Always invest in yourself – We constantly have to evolve and grow in order to stay relevant and ahead of the curve. You should always re-invest in yourself: pursue further education, stay on top of trends. Nothing remains static for long, and competitors and markets are always changing. If you want to be seen as the go-to guy or gal for your topic, then you need to change, too.

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