You are a brand: Here is how to brand yourself

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First impressions are no longer face to face. Rather, a first impression is now comprised of information which can be gathered via a quick search of the Internet. A first impression can be, for example, inclusive of your LinkedIn and Facebook pages, your personal blog, your Instagram page, your Twitter account, your Klout score, your pins on Pinterest, and anything else that may have made itself onto the Internet. Because of this, that 7 seconds you used to have to make a first impression when you enter the room is gone – chances are that the first impression was made long before you arrived. The reality is that when you walk into that room you are likely being evaluated against the first impression that was made prior to your arrival.

In today’s world you are a brand. Like it or not, if you want to be successful you need to not only recognize this reality, but you also need to take steps to build and enhance your brand. Here is how to brand yourself.

1. Define your brand

In short, a brand is a story. What is your story? Take the time to sit down and look at where you have been and where you are. Where you want to be? What is your skill set? What experiences do you have? How are you unique? Take all of this information and knowledge and define your brand – define your story. Be clear, be concise, and be direct. If you can’t define you as a brand in a sentence or two, you have lost an opportunity.

2. Take stock

What information is “out there”?  Start by making a list of all the social media accounts you have – even if you no longer actively use them

Next, Google yourself.  What do you find?  As G.I. Joe says, “Knowing is half the battle.”

3. Define a strategy

At this point you have a brand and you know what information about your brand is publicly available. Is the information enhancing or hurting your brand? What steps can you take to strengthen your brand? For example, should you adjust your privacy settings on some of your accounts so that personal information and exploits are not available for all to see? Does your LinkedIn page need to be updated?  If you don’t take the time to define your strategy you will not be able to execute it effectively.

4. Take action

Frank Cavallaro recently wrote about moving from strategy to execution. He wrote: “Strategy is about making choices. Execution is about getting down and dirty so that those choices can produce results.” Don’t stop at creating the strategy – execute. And remember, the Internet is not static. What information about you has been added? Furthermore, it is important to periodically look at your brand. Is it still representative of where are and where you want to be? If not, take the time to re-brand yourself.

When you take the time to brand yourself you have the opportunity to define that first impression.

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