Developing Your Personal Brand
Personal branding is the process of identifying the unique and differentiating value that you bring to an organization, team and/or project. A personal brand has become increasingly popular for professionals in today’s job market, whether they are job seekers, employees of a corporation or entrepreneurs.
In recent years the term ‘Solopreneur’ has become popular in describing those who are self-employed and those who work from a home office. Personal branding for solopreneurs becomes even more critical when you run or launch a business because the reality is you are your business and vice versa.
Personal branding has become increasingly popular for professionals in today’s job market for those seeking employment. As employers begin applicant research online through social media accounts like Facebook and LinkedIn, taking a proactive approach to your online reputation is vital in gaining the position you desire.
There are many ways to manage your online reputation and presence. It takes a professionally memorable and consistent effort to stand out in the crowd – no matter if that crowd consists of 20 applicants for the same position or 10 businesses fighting for the same client. We will cover some specific ideas on managing your personal brand in future posts. For now, let’s take a closer look at just one concept of personal branding.
The Lighthouse Personal Branding Model
Lighthouse branding is a personal branding process by which you establish a unique identity and value that differentiates you from others. It emits an unshakeable sense of where you stand and why you stand there, thereby creating a personal brand that people notice even when they aren’t looking for you.
Lighthouse Branding breaks the process down into four digestible steps: the foundation, the beacon, the tower and the beam.
Foundation: Your foundation is your unarguable strengths and experience in your chosen area. To identify your own foundation, write down the strengths that differentiate you from the rest and ask your friends, family and colleagues/managers to do the same for you. Identify the top three to five overlapping strengths that support the career direction you want to pursue.
Beacon: Your beacon is the memorable and consistent communication of your strengths and experience. Now that you have identified your foundation, it’s time to create your beacon by finding a word or phrase that represents these strengths and can become your brand. Develop a short pitch that can follow your brand, describing your strengths in more detail. Ensure that your word or phrase is versatile and can change with your direction.
Tower: Simply put, your tower is your visibility, reach and presentation, both online and offline, which support the beacon. This is really everything you do to proactively build your personal brand. The higher you build your tower with your efforts, the more visible you will be to potential career stakeholders.
Beam: Your beam is your career direction and more active personal branding and career search strategy. It involves you gaining and projecting a strong understanding of where you want to go, what you want to pursue and how you will pursue it. First, you need to determine what functional area, geography and industries/companies you want to target. Then, you need to actively network your brand with potential career stakeholders. Here are some ways to start:
- Join associations or networking groups within your industry and attend events to meet new contacts and build your target network. Be sure to share your personal brand with those new contacts.
- Conduct informational interviews with target network contacts (whether or not you’re seeking a job) and share your personal brand with them in your introductions.
- Find ways to bring fellow industry thought leaders together on a project or at an event.
- Find ways to contribute to the projects or events of fellow industry experts.
- Get recommended on LinkedIn and display testimonials from customers, clients and partners