Personal branding is a lot more than updating your LinkedIn profile or posting tweets to Twitter. It involves a much deeper, more personal, almost existential activity. Over the decades, as a pioneer in personal branding, I’ve developed nine powerful questions to clarify your brand. Use them to uncover and communicate your unique promise of value.
1. What makes me stand out from my peers?
When answering this question, think beyond your work activities. What are the things that make you interesting – the weirdest or quirkiest thing about you? Maybe you speak four languages or you’ve climbed three of the world’s tallest peaks or you have a giant collection of maps of national capitals. Those things may not be essential for doing your job, but they do make you interesting to those around you. And we all want to be connected to those we find interesting.
2. Who needs to know me so I can reach my goals?
Personal branding is not about being famous, it’s about being selectively famous. You need to be clear about whom you’re seeking to influence. All of the personal branding activities on which you’ll embark will be directed at this community. It would exhaust your resources to try to communicate the world at large, and it would likely have little impact. Get clear about your brand community.
3. What are my values?
Your values are your operating principles. I think of them as your non-negotiables. They impact how you feel, behave, and react. When you’re clear about your values, you can make sure to keep them in alignment. When you’re living your values fully, you’re fueled up and ready to deal with whatever comes your way. When your values are being violated by you or others, you start to exhibit negative emotions. You become the person no one wants to be around.
4. What’s my ultimate career goal?
All great planning – including your personal branding strategy – starts with the end in mind. Knowing where you want to go with your career will point you in the right direction when you start implementing brand-building activities. If you are unclear about what you want to do, your brand will flail about like a half-raised sail billowing in the wind.
5. Who makes up my support system?
Strong personal brands don’t go it alone. They have a community of mentors, sounding boards, emotional support friends, etc. to help them get clear, stay positive, make impactful decisions and ultimately achieve their goals. The digital age has made it easier than ever to grow a strong support system.
6. What brings me joy?
When you connect what you do with your passions – even if they aren’t the same thing, you’re putting fuel in your tank – giving you the energy to achieve your goals. And as an added bonus, when you’re connected to your passions, you exude a positive and engaging energy – one that makes you attractive to those around you.
7. What’s my superpower – the thing I do better than anyone else?
Strong brands take the things that they’re great at and they integrate it into everything they do. When you maximize your superpowers, you become known for them. You deliver value on a much higher scale, and become revered for your excellence. People will start using superlatives to describe you.
8. What’s my favorite way to communicate?
You likely won’t engage in personal branding communications if you despise the form itself. I get energized when delivering keynotes, but you might abhor public speaking. If that’s the case, simply pick another medium; don’t make it the center of your personal branding activities. Choose something you actually enjoy doing – perhaps that’s long-form writing like creating well researched white papers, or maybe you like to write brief, pithy, witty quips (if that’s the case, Twitter might be the best tool for you).
9. What’s my why?
We are all focused on what we do, and some of us are clear about how we do what we do – what makes our approach different. But few people are really clear about why they do what they do. When you have the “why” – your potent purpose defined – you have a sense of direction and a way of knowing what to pursue and what to ignore.
When you’re clear about the answers to all those questions, you have what you need to build a strong, authentic, and compelling personal brand.
Feature Image Credit: Getty
William Arruda is the cofounder of CareerBlast and co-creator of the free video course: The Insider’s Guide to Getting Noticed and Promoted.