Anyone can develop, grow, and deliver a new personal brand in 9 months. (Yes, gentlemen, even you.) It requires long-term commitment. And there’s discomfort along the way. But at the end of 9 months, your new brand will be a lifelong source of pride and joy.
As with every birth, this one requires 2 parents: You, and your customer. The strongest brand will combine the best traits of both, embodying who you and what your customer needs.
How to begin? You’ll start, of course, with conception.
Before you can grow your brand, you must first create it. Build a message that combines the best of both. Find your unique DNA, and use it to express your unique strengths:
- Personality traits: What are the characteristics and benefits that define you?
- Talents: In what ways are you naturally hardwired to excel?
- Results: What specific accomplishments, awards, and recognitions have you achieved?
- Reputation: What are you known for within your company, among your customers, and throughout your industry?
- Your network: How can you increase your participation with these people, and, with their network?
2: Stretch your comfort zone.
Growing your brand will force you to grow yourself. You won’t see the difference immediately, but looking back, you’ll see pretty remarkable progress.
When I was pregnant with my daughter, I took one photo a day. Over 9 months, even tiny changes create one extraordinary result.
3: Chart your progress.
You won’t see results overnight. Divide your 9-month plan into developmental stages:
First trimester: This first stage can be frustrating, because you can’t see a lot of progress yet. But stay focused and get the basics right, because your actions and choices at the beginning will have a long-term effect on the result. For example, invest in a distinctive business card, a smart website that showcases your offerings, and a memorable tagline that sums up who you.
Second trimester: Nourish your brand with a smart social media strategy. Build your presence on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn, and create comment-worthy blog posts. Widen your circle of clients and referrals. Keep expanding.
Third trimester: Keep growing by finding new ways to showcase your training, skills, and experiences. If you get nervous, practice your breathing.
4: Get expert advice.
You can learn quite a bit from reading blogs and books, and getting feedback from those you respect. Yet don’t be afraid to seek professional support along the way. As your brand develops, mindfully invest in upgrading your website, your materials, and all those other selling elements that initially shape people’s perception of your brand.
Keep going. Don’t stop. Yes, it’s exhausting, uncomfortable, and you might need to scream an occasional expletive. That’s good. It means you’re making progress. Stay focused because soon you’ll hear the words…
“Congratulations! It’s a brand!”
Pass around the cigars. Your personal brand is now officially out in the world, kicking and screaming for attention!
Now on to the real work: the daily care and feeding, nurturing it to grow beyond needing you every moment of the day. And this might be the most difficult part of all. Because while you can envision all sorts of extraordinary possibilities for your brand, after a certain point, you have to let go.
It must be able to stand on its own even when you’re not around — in conversations, in social media, in customer referrals, in the press. You’ll know you’ve been successful when your customers refer your brand for you, even when you’re not there.
In your career, as in life, few things will always and forever belong to you. Your personal brand is one of them. It should be the ultimate expression of who you are, and what you stand for.
As with any parent, your role is not to hover nervously, but to let your brand live and breathe and grow into something bigger than you.
Now, a cool offer…
Every parent loves showing off photos of the baby, right? I want to see the personal brand that YOU are developing! For the next week, until May 13, I will give you my input on your personal brand materials.
I invite you to go to our Facebook page and post a link your website, a snapshot of your business card, or any personal brand material. I promise to look and respond. Like a proud doting auntie, I’ll coo and tickle it under the chin.
Share your website or other personal branding material on our Facebook page, and for the next week, I’ll give feedback on every single one.