Recently, I challenged a client to develop a 140-character brand statement. She accepted the challenge and created a concise, impressive entry. It was a great exercise. Why did I ask her to attempt it? There were several reasons: an executive with extensive and impressive skill sets, she needed to synthesize her qualifications in a compact and effective way; and it was the beginning of her journey into the world of Twitter.
While we might not be active Twitter users, limiting yourself to 140 characters can often be a helpful activity. After all, you need to create a short, concise personal brand statement, even if you don’t want to worry about the number of characters.
Joining social networking sites such as LinkedIn, Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, Tumbler, or others can vastly increase your presence on the Internet. They are all free, so there’s no excuse not to join, especially if you are a serious about finding employment. LinkedIn wants you to provide a summary of your background, and a tagline under your photo. This requires you to synthesize your work history, skills, accomplishments, among other sections, and is a thought-provoking, and somewhat daunting task. Additionally, your resume will be more impactful if you provide a career summary at the top – a kind of brand statement.
So, build, or improve upon your LinkedIn site. If you want to catch a recruiter’s attention, you must figure out, as Tom Peters in 1997 said, “A Brand Called You.” Many experts believe personal branding is the number one tool for job seekers.
As William Arruda and Kirsten Dixson suggest in their fabulous book, Career Distinction, building a brand is a three step process: Extract YOU (know yourself, define your brand community, tell your brand story), Express YOU (create your own marketing tools, assess your online identity, build your brand in bits and bytes), and Exude YOU (be on-brand in all that you do, get a visual identify).
Get started by asking yourself three key questions:
- What are the adjectives (keywords) people use to describe you? (An easy and relatively painless way is to find at least 5-10 of your friends/colleagues/relatives and ask them!)
- How would you describe you?
- How well do these answers compare?
Once you identified strengths, and defined your brand “community” (all the people who know you and should know you), the next step is to determine what makes you different from your competitors, and identifying and focusing on your target audience.
Lastly, you’ll need to communicate your brand to your target audience. Understand the Three C’s of Brand Communication:
1. Clarity- who you are and who you aren’t
2. Consistency- send the same message regardless of the communication vehicle
3. Constancy –always visible to your target audience