by Jessica R. Key
Special to the NNPA from The Indianapolis Recorder

Jesse Brown

Today, the workplace is more competitive and so are individuals within the business world. Day to day business is global and in order to stay with the changing times, people will need much more than a boring business card.

They’ll need a personal brand – an effective strategy that tells who you are, what you stand for and what makes you unique.

To some, the concept of a personal brand can seem vague, unnecessary and like another trend in business. But experts stand by personal branding and say not only is it easy but can help you achieve your career goals.

Following are local experts who are giving their advice on ways one can develop a personal brand.

Kate King, instructor of marketing and management, Butler University

– Develop a personal brand statement: Ask yourself what you want your personal brand to convey and write it down. Who are you and what are you about? Add to it what you believe is unique about yourself and how you add value.

– Do an honest self-assessment: Think about your strengths and weaknesses. Identify any gaps between who you want to be and how people might perceive you. This may give way to opportunities to improve your education or skill set. When evaluating yourself, go outside the box. Add changes such as altering your appearance.

– Be clear about goals and aspirations: It’s not enough to say “I want to improve my business.” Goals must be measurable and within a time frame.

– Develop strategies to accomplish those goals: How are you going to carry out step three? What product do you have to give to gain clients, a job at a new company, a new position at your existing company or people you network with?

– Execute and manage your brand: You must continue to learn, update your knowledge and network with people in your field. Revisit your personal brand statement and goals to see if you are meeting your expectations. Get feedback from people to ensure your self-perception aligns with what others truly think of you.

Jesse Brown, author and wealth management and preservation specialist

– Enhance your voice mail greeting: Instead of a boring old “leave-me-a-message” voice mail, imbue your messages with some sort of memorable element. For instance, if you are a gardening consultant, greet phone callers with an upbeat “It’s a great day for cultivating a garden! Let me know how I can help you.

– Revise your email signature: If you do this, make sure it’s something unexpected and yet somehow tied to your business. This might prompt someone to look more closely at who would have written this whimsical missive and then click on your website.

– Jazz up product titles: If you’re not ready to commit yourself to comprehensive branding, jazz up the title of a report, white paper or tele-seminar recording you are giving. For example, instead of “Guide to Overcoming Procrastination,” call it “The No-More-Mañana Handbook.”

– Get a cool business card: Years ago, I did not have a logo or a company color, but when I went networking, I always had the coolest business card in the room. Brainstorm ways to elevate your business card above the ordinary.

– Be more accessible: Do you prefer to come off as the distant sage who can be reached only by slogging up a mountain or as someone who’s reachable by phone most hours of the day or night? Whichever you choose, make sure your “contact us” page conveys that message consistently. How you respond – as well as how quickly you respond – to email requests, questions, fan notes, blog critics and so on, contributes to how people in your target audience think of you.

Troy Brown, director of Campus and University Branding, Indiana University Communications, IUPUI

– Create a strategy: Just like a business brand, every brand session begins with a strategy. You need to know where you’re going before you reach your goal.

– Center your brand around things you are interested in: This will make it easy to strengthen your brand over time.

– Promote your brand online: It is important that you portray yourself well online. Employers or individuals you are trying to influence will most likely Google your name before they even meet you to determine if you get an interview or if you are a person they can trust. Here are the essentials outlets to promote your personal brand: LinkedIn – Create the most robust profile that you can. Be active in online groups that are related to your career field; seek out tips on how to develop powerful content; and use power words, such as developed, exceeded, guided, or integrated, and follow corporate brands that put out valuable content. Twitter – Having a professional Twitter account helps when speaking at a conference to utilize hashtags and increase your brand awareness. Blog/Website – Create a website or blog. A website is a good way to show your work if applicable. A blog provides a way for someone to develop thought leadership in their area of expertise. By creating valuable content, you will establish credibility and begin your rise as a thought leader. Social media can aid your personal brand, however it takes more than one branding tool to build recognition and credibility with your audience.

– Speak out: Speaking at conferences is one of the best ways to grow your network and establish yourself as an expert in your industry or niche.

– Write a book or eBook or make a video: Never turn down the opportunity to write about the knowledge you’ve secured. Give the people you are trying to influence an opportunity to read about or hear your expertise without the travel.

– Get involved: Your personal brand won’t grow by just going to work and home every day. You need to get involved in the community in order to strengthen your brand. Ways you can do this is volunteering for a non-profit or attending professional networking receptions and seminars. Be sure that organizations and events you attend work toward your goals of executing your strategy.

– Get people talking (treat everyone the way you want to be treated): Think about your personal brand each time you interact with someone – or don’t interact with someone. What impression are you leaving them with?

Try to build relationships with as many people as possible. Get to know their real names and remember details about them. The ones who feel the most connected to you will talk about you to others – this is how your personal brand grows stronger.