The discussion around personal branding seems to be one that happens a lot.

It used to be we’d get jobs, we’d grow our careers, maybe we’d work for two or three companies, then we’d retire.

Now we have to worry about our personal brands, just in case we decide to get a new job or start a business or, heck, change careers.

But why do you need to have a personal brand?

Is it to grow a business? Get a book deal? Get paid to speak? Get noticed for that big job you want? Get your first job out of school?

Whatever it is (and it works for all of these things), know what you’re setting out to do before you start.

A Quick Story

A couple of years after I started my business (Chicago-based integrated marketing communication firm, Arment Dietrich), I hired my first second in command.

She came from the corporate side, had a few more years experience than me, and knew how to manage people (I’m a great leader, but a terrible manager). She also is extremely intelligent.

I’ll never forget, after she’d been there for a few months, she said, “Why aren’t we branding this firm?”

My response, at the time, was, “Clients want us to do good work for them. I can’t imagine they’d appreciate our working on building a huge image for us instead of them.”

She just shook her head and said, “Clients pay attention to these things. They want to work with the firms that get a lot of attention.”

It took me a long time (two years, in fact) to understand what she was saying and to take her counsel to heart. It also took a terrible economy and some time on my hands to implement her advice.

What I discovered along the way is she was right. People want to work with people they perceive as successful and at the top of their careers.

Your Personal Brand

Just like we do when we’re researching a company, product, or service, people will Google you before they meet you in person. In fact, they’ll look at how you interact online and off before you’re invited in for a job interview or a new business pitch.

Why leave that reputation to chance?

The very first thing you want to do is create your personal mantra. This will be used in your Twitter profile, your blog bio, your Pinterest description, your LinkedIn bio, your Google+ description…it’ll be used everywhere you need a two or three sentence bio.

In order to figure out your personal mantra, you want to:

  1. Determine your emotional appeal. Do you want build a reputation for being funny and quirky like Erika Napoletano? Do you want to be known for your solid, metrics-driven insight like Jay Baer? Or perhaps you want to provide insights into real-time technology changes, Big Data, and advertising and marketing advances like Mitch Joel? Whatever it is, know why people like you in order to determine your emotional appeal.
  2. Create your description. Think about the industry you’re in or what tangible skills you have in order to create your description. Ask yourself: What field or industry am I in (or want to be in)? What are the words I use to talk about my work (one word descriptive adjectives)? Who is my target audience? Answers to these will help you figure out your description.
  3. Think about your function. Write down exactly what you do (or want to do). It might be something directly related to your career at this very second (graphics, writer, sales, financial planning, culinary arts) or it could be something more broad (creator, organizer, connector). Whatever it is, the following questions will help you determine your function: What service do I have to offer people? What do I do that is different than anyone else? What do I do that makes me stand out from the crowd?
  4. Put it all together. Now comes the hard part. How can you combine what you’ve written into two or three sentences? Once you’re able to do that, you have your personal mantra.

In some cases it will be phrases (see Geoff Livingston’s Twitter bio as an example) and, in others, it will be three complete sentences (see Danny Brown’s bio as an example).

No matter how you write it, your personal mantra will be used consistently across the web as you begin to build your brand. This is how people will begin to perceive you so take control and make it happen!

This first appeared on Peter Sterlacci’s blog as part of his 30x30x30 project.

Gini Dietrich

Gini Dietrich is the founder, CEO, and author of Spin Sucks, host of the Spin Sucks podcast, and author of Spin Sucks (the book). She is the creator of the PESO Model and has crafted a certification for it in partnership with Syracuse University. She has run and grown an agency for the past 15 years. She is co-author of Marketing in the Round, co-host of Inside PR, and co-host of The Agency Leadership podcast.

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