Self, Incorporated: Self Branding and the New Marketplace.

Necessity is the mother of invention.  It’s true.  The world is slowly emerging from the Great Recession of 2009.  The past two years have seen a paradigm shift.  How business will be done in the future has changed.  The business world is wiping the slate clean and developing new rules of play.

In this new marketplace is great opportunity.  Individuals in this new business world order have more control then every before.  The individual’s power and influence is growing through the incorporation and proliferation of blogs, social media, forums and smarter and smarter mobile phones.   Those who are savvy enough to take advantage of these tools will reap the rewards of this new marketplace.

Welcome to the age of self branding.  Welcome to Self, Incorporated.

So how does an individual go about branding themselves for this new economic order?  As you can imagine this is a huge question with an even bigger and ever changing answer.  This article is a primer, a few simple rules to get you started.

Create and develop your self brand

First step, define your self brand.  A brand is a story, told consistently, to establish a truth about a product.  In this case the product is you.  What is your story?  What is it about you and your background that helps you stand out?  What is it that you want to be known for in your industry?

Start to build your brand by understanding your past accomplishments.  Make a list of key growth moments in your background.  The times in your career when you helped with important projects or were key in strategic changes are the foundation of your self brand.

After you have an understanding of what you have done think about what you need to do to complete your brand.  If you feel there are missing pieces, take on the work that will fill the gaps.  Ask to be part of new projects that takes you out of your comfort zone.  Maybe further education or training will help enhance your brand?  If so, take the class.  Don’t be afraid to invest in yourself.

Self promotion and networking 2.0

Once your self brand is defined it is time to establish it in the market place.  Self promotion can be a difficult thing.  You want to get noticed but don’t want to come across as bragging.   One of the most accepted areas a designer can brag about themselves is the resume and portfolio.  This is a great place to start.

Adding often searched words and phrases to you documents will make it more likely that you get noticed on the web.  To do this you will want to place search engine relevant words into your resume and portfolio.  to learn more about kay words visit Wordze (http://www.wordze.com/).   You can also develop you own key words.  Test them by searching them in Google.  Are you getting back sites and information relevant to your self brand?  If not, develop new words and phrases and test them again.

It is important to use searchable key words because of one new technology, the Web 2.0.  The Web 2.0 is the proliferation of social media, networks and forums.  These Web 2.0 applications (LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter) are the front line of today’s dynamic networking.  Study’s show that most firms have some web 2.0 presents.  By developing a resume and portfolio that is branded and contains key words that support your self brand, firms can easily search you when they have a need.

This also helps if you are employed and want to take your career to the next level.  Establishing your brand within your own firm will allow you to become and expert in your field.  Leverage this title to grow in your career or develop business for the firm.

The work is not over once you have branded your resume and portfolio and posted it to your favorite social media sites.  Take your brand to the next level by writing articles, attending conferences and giving speeches and presentation.  These actions cement you as an expert in your field, strengthening your self brand.

Create new relationships and strengthen the old

While the Web 2.0 technologies are wonderful they do not compare to establishing relationships face to face.  Nothing is as important to your self brand as the network of contacts you have established, are establishing or will establish in the future.  Think of these people as your marketing team.  What they say about your skills, work ethic and accomplishments is critically important.

Now there is really no wrong way to network but there are a few rules that help a network run smoothly.  The first rule is that networking is a two way street.  If you use your network for something, make sure you invest back into it.  The second rule is to always be nice.  This might seem obvious but the very nature of a network is people connected to other people.

Conclusion

Developing your self brand does take work.  It starts with understanding what your strengths are as a designer, a manager and as a person.  You may need to enhance your self brand as you develop it.  If so, take a class or work on stretch projects.

Once you have you self brand defined, market yourself.  Put your information on the web and make it easy to find.  Also, take steps to become an expert in your field.  Give a presentation, join a design panel or become of design judge.

Lastly, and maybe most important, meet people face to face.  Shake their hand, share your experience, and be friendly.

Self branding does take work but it is always worth it.   By making time in every day to work on your brand you will be a market leader in no time.

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2 Comments

  1. Monika
    Posted March 2, 2010 at 8:24 pm | Permalink

    Dear Mr.Brown,Your article is extremely informative.It focuses on key areas to be developed and is not random in its suggestions .
    Its all about where one wants to go professionally ,and where one is .
    Thanks &regards ,
    Dr Monika .

  2. Posted June 1, 2010 at 5:34 am | Permalink

    Very good information. I really appreciate it. It seems you are doing in this article what you are teaching. Giving back, showing your skills, establishing as an expert…
    I will act on this information today.

    thanks again

    steve


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