We all like to look our best – we look in the mirror in the morning before leaving for work, check our teeth, and iron our clothes. A professional brand assessment can offer the same level of clean up for your corporate persona.
You would never show up to work looking anything but your best. So why would you not put the same care and dedication to your professional brand?
It is important for you to be able to make an honest, pointed critique of your brand. After all, we live in the age of personal branding.
Whether you revel or bristle at our ever-increasingly image-based culture, the fact is that you have a brand: How do you appear to others? What are your areas of expertise? What professional value do you bring to the table?
At the risk of sounding cliché, the first step is to always be true to yourself. What all strong brands have in common is that, at their heart, they are always genuine. Without authenticity, your brand is essentially a mirage that will dissolve under the least bit of pressure.
But authenticity is just a foundation — essential to the survival of a brand, but without hard work and skill, is just a skeleton.
Understanding your professional brand is not just about assessing your skills and attributes. It’s also about how those skills and attributes are presented.
Professional brand assessment can be approached in four steps:
1 GOOGLE YOURSELF
If you’ve never Googled yourself, you really should — because others do. And you should know what other people are finding out about you before they even meet you.
If you have a professional website or online portfolio, this is also a good way to see if it appears high on the list if someone types in your name. You want to be sure that your accomplishments pop up and that their mentions outweigh any criticism of you.
Any social media profiles you maintain should also pop up when you Google your name. Not seeing much of anything when you Google your name? This is an issue in itself.
2 ANALYZE YOUR SOCIAL MEDIA PLATFORMS
If you don’t have a strong presence on professional social networks, like LinkedIn, then work on a plan to improve your position. LinkedIn is a great platform to create and publish original content. Find under-used key phrases in your industry and start producing great content.
Your thoughts on a topic are valuable, and you never know whom your words will reach or help. Producing and publishing content is an investment in your cultural capital; the more you publish under your name — whether on LinkedIn, a personal blog, or mainstream publication — the more likely you are to be seen.
Some of the most well known creators, business owners and industry leaders aren’t even the best at what they do — they just talk about it the most.
3 CRAFT AND PROMOTE A MISSION STATEMENT
You have a vision — the best leaders do. Make sure you are sharing it!
Creating a mission statement is all about placing yourself and your business in the best possible light. There is an art to storytelling, and great storytelling is invaluable for connecting with your audience. It shouldn’t take long for people to gain a grasp of what you’re all about.
This also includes your “elevator pitch” — a quick 60-second persuasive speech that communicates what you do and what your goals are in a way that sparks interest.
When you can talk about yourself in a concise and compelling way, you’ve laid the groundwork for others to engage in a deeper dialogue with you.
4 THINKING AHEAD: A FIVE-YEAR PROFESSIONAL PLAN
Where do you see yourself in five years? Where would you like to be?
The answers to these questions don’t have to be specific, but continue to ask yourself follow-up questions until you get there.
The answer to where you want to be in five years might be that you just want to be happy. (The eternal quest.) So, what will make you happy? And how can you make that happen?
It is important to ask yourself these questions because the answers will make your goals more concrete and easier to break down into manageable benchmark goals. Consider experiences like internships, jobs and projects you would like to tackle, skills or leadership training you want to engage in and people you would like to meet or work with.
By assessing your professional brand on a regular basis, you are ensuring you are always looking your best. These assessments also allow you to take a pulse of goals — to see where you are, how far you’ve come and how far you’ve yet to go. Your brand is your professional introduction.
Make it a memorable one.