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Personal Branding Checklist

Personal branding is a continual process just as knowing yourself is a continual process

This is a checklist of items you need for an all-encompassing personal branding strategy. Personal branding is the process of marketing and selling yourself as a brand in order to gain success in business. Personal branding is a continual process just as knowing yourself is a continual process. As you grow, so does your brand. The need for personal branding arises from the fact that globalization has increased competition in the workplace. As the wheat is separated from the chaff, if you are left standing, you are left standing with others of good caliber. The playing field is now that much more challenging since your competition is as good as, or better, than you.

To paraphrase David Samuel, the bloke who got me into personal branding after I saw him speak a few years ago; he spoke about of why you need personal branding. His audience was a group from a large telecom:

"If we were to classify people based on aptitude, they are As, Bs, Cs, and Ds. Because of globalization the Cs and Ds have been outsourced. They're gone. All that's left is you. You are now in competition with a bunch of As and Bs. You are now clamoring for attention amongst a talented group of people. How do you now get noticed? How can you shine and be recognized for additional opportunities? How can you be successful when everyone around you is just as talented, or more so, than you? If everyone around you is capable and of A or B caliber, how do you compete with that?"

You build a personal brand and sell it. You sell not just yourself, but your brand, to your superiors, or clients in the case of contractors and consultants.

The same reason people buy Coke instead of Pepsi, or American Eagle instead of Abercrombie & Fitch where the products are extremely similar, is because of the brand. The public perception of the company's product is created and marketed in such a way as to enhance the product, or even be the product. Soda is soda, pop is pop for those of us with less-sensitive taste buds. The similarities end, however, when you compare Coke versus Pepsi. Even taste tests are meaningless; it's the brand that sells it.

Checklist

  1. Know what you want
  2. Be able to articulate what you do
  3. Elevator pitch
  4. Be positive
  5. Have a blog / website / MySpace, or other online presence
  6. Business card
  7. Multiple e-mail addresses
  8. Phone
  9. Signature
  10. Logo
  11. Personal logo
  12. More than one resume
  13. Mentor
  14. Networking outlets / contacts
  15. Wardrobe style
  16. Multiple IM accounts
  17. Alias
  18. Mantra
  19. Speaking and PowerPoint template
  20. Passion

Let's start with some brief definitions.

Checklist Definitions

  1. Know what you want: Identify what you want, and start walking toward it.
  2. Be able to articulate what you do: When someone asks what you do, answer them immediately with a clear, concise, and confident response.
  3. Elevator pitch: Be able to describe who you are and what you do in the time it takes to ride an elevator.
  4. Be positive: Be positive.
  5. Business card: A 3x5 piece of paper or mini-CD that has your personal contact information clearly printed on it.
  6. Have a blog / Website / MySpace, or other online presence: Get your brand online.
  7. Multiple e-mail addresses: Get more than one e-mail address.
  8. Phone: Get a phone.
  9. Signature: Your signature is who you are, your title, and your contact information. You should put this on everything you touch.
  10. Logo: A visual image that positively identifies your brand.
  11. Personal goals: Set goals for yourself that help you reach what you want.
  12. More than one resume: Customize your resume to the potential employer or client.
  13. Mentor: Find a guru and have them teach you.
  14. Networking outlets / contacts: Continually develop your network by attending industry meetings and conferences.
  15. Wardrobe style: When you are going to be near people who you wish to sell your brand to, dress to impress.
  16. Multiple IM accounts: Get more than one IM account.
  17. Alias: Obtain a positive nickname.
  18. Mantra: Collect sayings that enforce your brand.
  19. Speaking and PowerPoint template: Speak about what you do and have a hot-looking PowerPoint template to show.
  20. Passion: Love what you do.

Thorough Definitions
Now, let's get more thorough in our definitions.

1  Know What You Want
The most important thing is to know what you want. If you have a clearly identified target of desire, you can walk that path with confidence.

One of the biggest problems with management is the delegation process; the process where someone in the position of authority asks someone else they are in charge of to accomplish a task. The delegation process is a series of steps that must be followed in order to ensure success. The first step is personal: "Know what you want." If you don't know what you want, you cannot articulate to others how to accomplish the task, because you don't know what it is. You are setting them up to fail because you cannot define success. If you don't know what you want, you'll be walking in aimlessly with no purpose.

Identify what you want, and start walking towards it.

2  Be Able to Articulate What You Do
When advertising a product, people need to be able to identify what the product is to garner context. Sometimes this works in reverse where by not advertising the purpose, you create a mystique that has been proven effective. This doesn't work, however, when you are meeting someone new for the first time, and they ask what you do. Simply saying, "Jesse Warden, man of mystery" doesn't accurately portray what I do. The business world revolves around work. While jobs may decrease, the amount of work will not; there is always work to be done. You are a cog in the machine, whether corporate or independent, and you want to sell yourself as an effective part of that whole.

By giving a clear, concise description of what you do, the other party immediately can identify an applicable value if any. If they are a potential employer or client, you want them to have this clear impression of you. If they don't have an immediate need for your skills, they may later. They will remember you and what you do later if you left a good and clear first impression. "I remember that networking engineer that I met at that conference; she'd be a good candidate for this opportunity."

The interest in what you do is at its apex when the other party asks; be ready to immediately answer, and thus take the most advantage of it. This also sometimes spawns additional conversation, which in turn leads to more rapport-building opportunities.

If you cannot articulate what you do, others will perceive it negatively. It doesn't matter if you're the hottest C++ programmer out there; if the other party doesn't get that from your description, they have no knowledge of that. They'll think things like: "He's some type of developer." If a C++ job comes up, they are more apt to immediately think of the person who accurately described that they coded C++ first.

"What do you do?"

"Yeah, I like do computer stuff..."

versus

"What do you do?"

"I live, eat, and sleep programming in C."

In addition, not being able to articulate what you do presents a host of other negative perceptions. It makes you sound inarticulate. Communication is key in globalization and in business in general. It's a flawed process to begin with; someone who is good at it immediately has perceived value and personified charisma. Finally, trust is conveyed if you quickly and confidently describe what you do.

When someone asks what you do, answer them immediately with a clear, concise, and confident response.

3  Elevator Pitch
Now that you know what to say, how do you say it? You use an elevator pitch. An elevator pitch is a short description of who you are, what you do, and it's spoken in the time it takes to ride in an elevator with someone - usually three sentences. They are designed to be short so you can quickly and effectively describe who you are and what you do. If you meet an important person in passing and are in the elevator, this is one scenario. Another is when someone, who may have a potential opportunity for you, is at a conference or meeting. You could utilize the 20 seconds after the meeting to introduce yourself and create a good, informative first impression in a limited timeframe. It's called a pitch because you are trying to sell yourself to the other person. That also means this can change depending on who you are talking to. Just like sales pitches can change based on the audience and demographic, so to can elevator pitches. It helps if you can figure out a little about the other person before you give your pitch. You often can't, so don't plan on it. If you can, make the most of it.


More Stories By Jesse Randall Warden

Jesse R. Warden, a member of the Editorial Board of Web Developer's & Designer's Journal, is a Flex, Flash and Flash Lite consultant for Universal Mind. A professional multimedia developer, he maintains a Website at jessewarden.com where he writes about technical topics that relate to Flash and Flex.

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Most Recent Comments
rampersad 08/23/09 11:40:00 AM EDT

Have You Created an Authentic Personal Brand?
In life, as in business, branding is more effective, powerful and sustainable than marketing and sales, and an effective way to best the competition. It’s about influencing others, by creating a brand identity that associates certain perceptions and feelings with that identity....READ MORE

Wendy 06/30/09 01:36:00 PM EDT

Mostly good points.

I disagree with your last statement, "Even taste tests are meaningless; it's the brand that sells it."

Taste does matter and buying decisions are not always based on how the product is being marketed. Taste tests have a place in product development as well as marketing and advertising.

Branding and marketing can be important, but they are not the ultimate basis for all buying decisions.

Yakov Fain 12/25/06 10:56:05 AM EST

Nice article, Jesse!

After reading it online, I noticed a short bio under it, which reads:

"Jesse R. Warden, a member of the Editorial Board of Web Developer's & Designer's Journal, is Flex, Flash and Flash Lite consultant for Universal Mind. A professional multimedia developer, he maintains a website at jessewarden.com where he writes about technical topics that relate to Flash and Flex."

If some hiring manager will read one of your other articles followed by this BIO, s/he may be wondering, "Is Jesse a Flex dude, Flash consultant or a journalist writing for WebDDJ?"

What do you think? Should you brand yourself just as "Jesse Warden Flex developer"? Should you have just one blog that presents you as such? What if you also like biking and would love to blog about it? Are you allowed to have another, personal blog where you will use different (street) language or it may hurt your main brand?