My first job out of college was as a stringer reporter for Charlotte, NC's African-American newspaper. While working for the paper I started working as the volunteer coordinator for a local non-profit organization in Charlotte. A couple of years later I was employed by the local government. A major part of my job with the local government was promoting recycling participation. While working for the local government I expanded my freelance writing gig to writing for the African-American magazine in the market. I have met a lot of people during my career, which is good and bad. It is good because it has allowed me to meet community and civic leaders in Charlotte. At first I felt that knowing them was enough, but soon I realized- knowing them and having them know me were two different things.
During a conversation with one of these key leaders I mentioned that I that had recently received my Accreditation in public relations. The person's response was, "I didn't know you did that too." I was crushed. Public relations is my profession. I realized at that moment that I had an identity crisis. Though I knew a lot of people, they did not know me by my profession. They knew me by the organization I worked for, but not the work I did for the organization. I wanted people to know me by my profession and passion - public relations. I wanted them to describe me as. "Brandi, the competent public relations professional." Two years ago, after becoming frustrated with my identity crisis, I decided it was time to take action. To combat this problem I decided to create a personal branding plan.
My first step in creating the plan was setting a goal. Next I determined who I wanted to communicate with. After that I started developing strategies and tactics. Here's the plan.
The plan helped me show my audience why I am hot and has helped separate me from other professionals in this market!
The lesson. You need a personal brand...even if you don't have an identity problem. Personal brands help you showcase your special skills. This can help set you apart when applying for a position or competing for that promotion...or freelance gig.
What is personal branding? Just as companies use brands to differentiate their company and products from their competitors, you must differentiate yourself from others in your profession. A personal brand helps you do that. Your personal brand is the thing that separates you from the rest. It is your it factor.
Your personal brand should:
- Be classic
- Be timeless
- Be associated with some emotion
Develop your personal branding plan by:
- Establishing a goal
- Identifying your it factor
- Getting your it factor in front of your target audience
Why are you hot? Create a personal branding plan using the information here. If you want to know more about personal branding, attend my workshop titled "It's All About Me" at the National Forum for Black Public Administrators conference in Phoenix, AZ on April 21. Once you had developed your plan, share it by posting it here to let everyone know why you are hot!