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Cory Dorfner
Cory Dorfner

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Personal Brand: What, Why, and How

Hello there and welcome back to my Switching Career Paths series! If you have not yet read the prior posts in the series, I would highly recommend starting on my You're Hired! post. There, you will find a brief introduction to myself and my background before I made the decision to change my life for the better! In this week's post, I would like to talk about Personal Branding. Primarily what it is, why you need it, and some tips on how to start developing your own. So let's dive in!

What Is It?

A personal brand is how you, as an individual, foster your public image and present it to those around you. Whether that be those around you physically or within your social circle across a multitude of media platforms, they all will form their own view of your brand based off your content and opinions. This might seem like a scary and daunting task to undertake but it is something that will return immense value to you time and time again throughout your life. Fortunately though, the most difficult task of this process is right at the beginning of the process, and that is identifying where and how to start. Most individuals, including even Oprah Winfrey, go through many different variations of their own personal brand before finding the one that defines their voice the most and helps them become an influential individual within their field.

Oprah Winfrey Believe In Yourself Gif

While your personal brand may be how others see you on social media, it is so much more than that behind the scenes. Your personal brand is who you are as an individual. It's your purpose in life, your mission and vision, and your values. All grouped together through the work that you present to others. This is what makes it so important. If you want your personal brand to be one of knowledge in video games, then that is something you should value and have a large knowledge base around with which you can share to others. Be careful though, this is not something you can fake. While it might seem easy to do so at first, you will quickly run out of material related to your brand to talk about if you don't have a large knowledge base to work off of. You will also find yourself spending more time researching into the subject than actually writing about and contributing towards.

Why Do You Need It?

So know that we have a little more background into what a personal brand is, let's talk a little more as to why you need it. A personal brand is critical to your long-term success if you are looking to grow yourself in a certain area. It is both beneficial and necessary to differentiate yourself from other individuals when applying for jobs or even starting your own company. It is the difference between simply knowing a lot about a topic to being a leader in that field and recognized for your contributions. If you are the type of person that feels like they have a story to share, and are willing to put in the time and effort, then your personal brand will help you achieve that success in your life.

Seth Meyers Story Gif

When created properly and organically through your content, people will begin to realize your brand as one of a thoughtful and caring person in your field, who is willing to share their knowledge with others and help them as they work through areas that you have already mastered. This doesn't mean that you have to be the most knowledgeable on the specific topic either. Just by being yourself and showing that you care for others and want to share information with them is enough to start building your personal brand. It will take time and is very unlikely to happen overnight, but you will find that the more you share with others and provide thought-provoking content with your brand, the larger it will become and the more successful you will be.

How To Create Your Own

Now that I have hopefully convinced you on what a personal brand is and why you need one, let's focus on some guidelines to helping you create your own. There are six guidelines in total that I adhere to when working with my own personal brand. These guidelines are:

  1. Have a specific area to focus on and be consistent
  2. Be honest and genuine with your content
  3. Don't just talk about your content, tell your story and live your brand
  4. Failure will happen so be ready for it
  5. Give back to the community and create a positive impact
  6. Follow the examples of those that have succeeded and let others tell your story

Let's take a deeper look into each of those guidelines.

1. Have a specific area to focus on and be consistent

“Getting an audience is hard. Sustaining an audience is hard. It demands a consistency of thought, of purpose, and of action over a long period of time.”
    -Bruce Springsteen

Personal brands can undergo many different changes throughout your life but it is vital that you always pick a specific area to focus on. By focusing your message to a specific area for your target audience, you will find that it is much easier to create the content you need around your personal brand to drive your success and allow others to define who you are. This will also make it easier for others to remember who you are and what you are offering so that when it comes to hiring someone as a new employee for a company or to speak at a conference, they will remember you because of your specific focus in that area. Also, by being consistent with your message, it is more likely you will be recognized for that one topic and will become even easier to create content around it. This includes being consistent both online and offline. Any tiny inconsistency can derail the effectiveness of your personal brand.

2. Be honest and genuine with your content

"Being honest may not get you a lot of friends but it’ll always get you the right ones."
    -John Lennon

One of the easiest ways to have your own, original personal brand is to be authentic and genuine with your content. It might seem easy to simply take content from others and market it as your own but this is unethical and your audience will soon catch on as it won't fit your personal brand. By being upfront with your audience and engaging with them in an honest and thoughtful manner, your personal brand will experience a huge growth without you doing anything more or being anyone than who you already are. This also makes it easy to take what you are already experiencing and working through on a daily basis and sharing that with your audience as well. With these actions, you will begin to build a reputation with your brand and show the world that you are deeply skilled in this area and are willing to share your insight.

3. Don't just talk about your content, tell your story and live your brand

"All of us need to understand the importance of branding. We are CEOs of our own companies: Me Inc. To be in business today, our most important job is to be head marketer for the brand called You."
    -Tom Peters

By telling a story with your brand, you create a platform for other individuals to engage with and share their own story. While a simple narrative is helpful to get your point across, that point will often get lost in the depths of social media as there is nothing for people to relate to. This doesn't mean that you have to create a novella every time you want to post something on your blog, Youtube, or social media accounts though. Just be approachable with your content and let others know how this all relates to your life to create a warm and friendly brand of yourself. This becomes much easier to do when you are actually living your brand as well. To create a truly unique and successful personal brand, you should be living it to the point that your brand and actual lifestyle are identical. With this, your brand should also include values like leadership and giving back to the community, instead of just content about a specific focus area.

4. Failure will happen so be ready for it

"I have not failed. I have found 10,000 ways that don’t work."
    -Thomas Edison

Let's take Oprah Winfrey as an example. She did not simply become one of the most influential personal brands in the world on her first attempt. No, she worked hard and tried several different iterations of her brand on a small, local TV show before finally realizing what her brand truly should be and sharing her voice with the world. Brands like hers almost always come from a state of repeated trial and error, never instant perfection. Even now, there are minor tweaks and modifications to her brand as the world around us changes. This fact can be very intimidating and tough for people to cope with but is one that almost everyone will have to work through when defining their personal brand. Always remember though that these failures are never as scary as what could happen if you don't try at all.

5. Give back to the community and create a positive impact

“You cannot get through a single day without having an impact on the world around you. What you do makes a difference, and you have to decide what kind of difference you want to make.”
    -Jane Goodall

When creating your brand and building up your following, you want to make sure that you are steadily building up an image of positivity and giving back to your community of followers. By pushing others aside or burning bridges with individuals in your past, you will start to lose those followers that care about you and your content. In many cases, those individuals may even be replaced with toxic people that only add fuel to the fire and ultimately destroy you and your public image in the process. By keeping a positive message with your content and helping others around you succeed, you will grow a healthy personal brand that provides incredible returns for you and your community over time.

6. Follow the examples of those that have succeeded and let others tell your story

"All you have in your life is your name and the reputation you garner."
    -Jessie Maltin

By studying trends and influential people that you look up to, you can make better content that is applicable to your community with your own personal twist. By paying attention to the content from others across all social media platforms, you can help play a role in creating the next big trend and see a huge boost to your community. It is important though that you make this content your own. This goes back to several other points already made in this list as well. Don't simply take content from others but understand their message and apply it to your life. Be honest and genuine with your message and tell your story. By doing so, you will create a reputation that others want to share and help build your brand in the process.

I hope you found this information helpful and applicable to your personal and professional lives! Your personal brand is a project that will take you an entire lifetime to complete. It is not something that will happen overnight and will not be easy. Hopefully, some of the information I have shared with you today will help make this process a little bit easier for you though and help carve a path for your own personal brand. There is no one true method to building an effective personal brand but these guidelines should help you get a jumpstart on them and build your success over time. Creating your personal brand will not only help others understand who you are and what you are trying to accomplish, but will also help you be well-known in your field and land you work time and time again. It is what people will remember you for long after you are gone from this earth. By following these guidelines, that memory of you will be one of thoughtful leadership and giving back to others.

Patrick from Spongebob Squarepants Rooting For You Gif

If you enjoyed the post, be sure to follow me here and on social media too so that you don't miss the rest of my Switching Career Paths series, where I share some tips and insights into how I changed up my life for the better and how you can too! The links to my social media accounts can be found on the contact page of my personal website. Please feel free to share any of your own experiences with switching up your career path, general questions and comments, or even other topics you would like me to write about in the comments below. Thank you and I look forward to hearing from you!👋

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