Contributed by CEO Coach Henna Inam
In these times when each of us is a knowledge worker and global economies are in turmoil, if we want to have greater control over our careers it’s critical that we define our personal brands. I often work with my executive coaching clients to help them create their personal leadership brand. They identify purpose, the strengths they bring, and their core values. The stumbling block that we come to often is “You mean I have to actually promote myself? That just feels so fake!”
For a lot of us, it’s easy to brag about others or fight for a cause we believe in. Promoting ourselves is tougher, so we don’t do it. Yet, having a great personal brand without marketing it is sort of like if Apple designed a great product and no one knew about it. Like product brands, personal brands create great value for us when we market them well. So here are five steps to market your personal brand, applying some of the principles I used as a former chief marketing officer.
1. Reframe “Promoting Yourself” to “Sharing Yourself.”
As women we usually have no problem sharing ourselves (our interests, our backgrounds) with others. For this to be a successful marketing plan we need to shift our own mindsets. We can say “I’m the best marketing guru on personal brands you will find” (self-promotion). If that feels inauthentic to say, it won’t work because you don’t believe in it. Or we can say “I’m passionate about helping leaders create and market their personal brands. My clients see huge impact when they create and action their brand” (self-sharing). When we share ourselves and believe in our message, it’s more credible to the audience.
2. Create your elevator pitch.
Time is a premium on TV, social media and in our lives. TV time is most often sold in 15 and 30 second slots and Twitter gives us 140 characters to express ourselves. So write down what you can say in 15-30 seconds that represents your brand and then practice saying it out loud. Here are some examples of what different clients have created for themselves. CEO of private equity company: “I am passionate about finding the hidden potential in people and businesses and then challenging ourselves to deliver it“. Senior level marketing officer: “I love being a catalyst for ideas that transform organizations and create new paradigms.”
3. Engage your target audience
Just like any advertising, we want to be really clear about the people we want to share our message with. We want to include anyone we want to influence – key stakeholders in our organization, our boss, peers, sponsors, the people that work for us. The list could include people on your personal board of directors, mentors, clients. We want them to understand our message and be advocates for it. Think of them as your social media fans and followers. We want to engage them by sharing our personal brand and also asking for their feedback.
4. Pick the right occasions to share your message.
The fast food people got this right. I’m watching late night TV and feeling a little rumble in my stomach. Out pops an ad for a juicy hamburger all smothered in mayonnaise just like I like it! In any advertising message, timing is critical. Our message needs to arrive in time to influence decisions. Talk with your target audience about your personal brand when setting yearly objectives, during mid-year and year-end reviews, feedback sessions, to influence new projects, prior to succession planning discussions. Share your personal brand on your resume, your Linked In profile, in social media. Here’s mine on Pinterest.
5. Repeat your message consistently.
Research from my P&G days used to show that any compelling message needs to be heard 3+ times before it sinks in (less compelling messages need to be repeated many more times!). Given all the advertising clutter it’s probably more true now than ever. This means that each of our stakeholders needs to hear our message multiple times. The more clear and consistent we are, the better we will be remembered when it’s time for that stretch assignment or for that succession planning discussion.
Most importantly, remember that our actions speak louder than our words. The most successful brands deliver what they promise. So let’s keep our personal brand front and center as we set our intentions for meetings we participate in, our interactions with others, and decisions we make.
I welcome your questions and comments. Connect with me if you would like to create and market a powerful brand for yourself to help you reach your goals. If you found this helpful please subscribe and share with others.
Henna Inam is a CEO Coach focused helping women become transformational leaders. A Wharton MBA, and former C-Suite executive with Novartis and P&G, her passion is to engage, empower, and energize women leaders to transform themselves and their businesses. Sign up for her blog at www.transformleaders.tv.