Take your busi­ness to the next level by lever­ag­ing the great­est as­set you have—your­self.


Build­ing your per­sonal brand: Find out what the buzz is all about, and why you should do it.

There’s so much buzz right now about the im­por­tance of cre­at­ing your own brand that it can feel over­whelm­ing if you don’t have a shiny web­site and the “right” num­ber of fol­low­ers. But rest easy. Whether you’re a full-time em­ployee, an en­tre­pre­neur or a side hus­tler, sim­ply en­sur­ing that your brand re­flects your true char­ac­ter will in­spire the trust you need to be suc­cess­ful. There are three key ques­tions to ask your­self if you want to use brand­ing to your ben­e­fit.

1. What is my brand?

One of the big­gest mis­takes peo­ple make when build­ing and pro­mot­ing their brand is not ac­tu­ally un­der­stand­ing what a brand is, says Luvvie

Ajayi, best-sell­ing au­thor, blog­ger and cultural com­men­ta­tor. “Your brand is not your logo or your num­ber of Face­book fol­low­ers. It’s what peo­ple think or say about you when you’re not in the room.”

This means that all of us al­ready have a per­sonal brand, whether in­ten­tion­ally cre­ated or not. And the first step to tak­ing charge of it is to fig­ure out what it is. You can get in­sight from things like your per­for­mance re­views and the ad­jec­tives peo­ple choose when in­tro­duc­ing you. Ask a bunch of peo­ple to share three words that de­scribe you. Af­ter you’ve col­lected some feed­back, re­flect on whether or not your cur­rent brand res­onates with you and how you’d like to strengthen or al­ter it. If you want to pivot it en­tirely, be care­ful. Your brand must be au­then­tic in or­der for you to main­tain it and for peo­ple to trust you.

Once you have clar­ity about how you en­vi­sion peo­ple talk­ing about you, pore over your dig­i­tal pro­files—from Linkedin to per­sonal web­sites—and en­sure that your brand is mes­saged con­sis­tently through your style, voice, vis­ual as­sets (like pho­to­graphs and fonts) and en­dorse­ments from cred­i­ble peo­ple in your realm of in­flu­ence. In her book, Build Your Dream Net­work, J. Kelly Hoey of­fers a list of “net­work­ing ac­tiv­i­ties” that are also im­por­tant for brand build­ing. They in­clude your email sig­na­ture line, your out-of-of­fice au­tore­spon­der and voice­mail mes­sage, your in­voice and the mu­sic that plays when a client/cus­tomer is on hold. Any ex­pe­ri­ence some­one has with you, both on­line and off­line, should re­flect your brand.

2. What’s my ul­ti­mate ob­jec­tive?

I con­nect with a lot of women who find it dif­fi­cult to build a per­sonal brand be­cause they are averse to self-pro­mo­tion. “It’s not brag­ging if you’re stat­ing the facts,” says Mered­ith Fine­man, com­mu­ni­ca­tions and pro­fes­sional de­vel­op­ment ex­pert. One of the rea­sons women strug­gle with toot­ing their own horn is be­cause we’re scru­ti­nized more than men. “Women are po­liced from their an­kles to their voice,” she says, “and con­di­tioned to be seen and not heard.”

Women can over­come their re­luc­tance to pro­mote them­selves by de­vel­op­ing a strat­egy with the end game in mind. Want to turn your gift for cre­at­ing beau­ti­ful flo­ral ar­range­ments into a side gig? Start post­ing them on In­sta­gram ac­com­pa­nied by inspirational quotes. Hop­ing for a pro­mo­tion? Find out who’ll be in the room when the de­ci­sion is made and make sure they’re armed with talk­ing points about why you’re a su­per­star. Have dreams of au­thor­ing a book? Con­sider be­com­ing a con­trib­u­tor to a pub­li­ca­tion or web­site in your area of ex­per­tise. How you am­plify your­self and your work will de­pend on where you’re headed. Start with your goal and work back­wards so that you can en­vi­sion the re­sults.

3. How will my brand en­dure?

The most valu­able brands have longevity be­cause they’ve es­tab­lished a track record in meet­ing a need—

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