At this point, we’ve all experienced the changes that have occurred both in the job search and client acquisition strategies over the last decade. It has become increasingly harder to get noticed and get the attention of others. Therefore, it has become critical that we identify and properly position our unique brands. If we don’t take time to identify what makes ourselves and businesses unique, then we just remain as plain as everyone else. So how does someone (or business) strengthen their unique brand and get attention? We will look at the various ingredients and steps necessary to stand out from the crowd.
Taking Inventory of Talents and Skills
The first step in building your brand is identifying what exactly makes up your brand. These elements have been building and evolving since the day you entered the world. Unfortunately, we don’t always keep tabs on the talents and skills we develop each and every day. Therefore, it is important that we identify and take inventory of these unseen assets that we all have. This can take several hours and days to accomplish, but don’t despair or rush the process.
We are all born with certain talents that, if cultivated, can put us out in front because of how we uniquely use and develop them. Talents usually get taken for granted because we do them and do them well without thinking. Sometimes in order to identify our talents, we need to rely on our good friends and supportive family members. These nurturing people will be able to see you and bring to light the talents that you have and even those you may never have even discovered.
Unlike talents, skills are things that we learn how to do with practice over time. Skills are equivalent to technology; we need to keep improving on them because how they work and get used change over time. Some examples of skills are verbal communication, personal skills, and, of course, technology skills which seem to change and develop overnight.
Once our talents and skills have been identified, we can then move on to positioning ourselves. What areas are we expert at? What groups of people (target market or personas) are we going to focus are expertise toward? This may not be known right away; it may come over time as we work with various groups of people. However, we must remember that we cannot serve everyone as everyone means no one specifically. We need to focus on one or two groups and master them much like our skills and talents.
Identifying Our Worth: Pricing
This is sort of a hard step for people as we tend to under estimate the worth of our services and time. Identifying our worth is difficult, but it mainly is tied to what we need to live our lives daily. If our daily expenses were practically nothing, then our pricing could be very low. However, there is also the aspect of our audience’s expectations. If we price ourselves too low, they will not think we are serious either. So, you might be asking yourself, “What am I worth then?”
Our price depends first on our daily needs. We need enough to pay our bills and hopefully have enough to save a little too. This number can be easily identified by adding up all our necessary expenses including house, food, clothing, automobile, etc. and then adding a margin on top for extras that may come up. In the New York City Metro area, this number is around $60K per year on the conservative side which comes out to about $30 per hour.
The piece that is not easy to identify is our value and worth over time. If we consider age, someone’s knowledge at 25 is quite different than someone who’s 45 or 55. Therefore, experience (which really has no value) needs to be valued. So, now our price tag per hour could be somewhere north of $100-200 per hour, hypothetically.
Promoting Ourselves and Businesses
The last step is promotion; how will we get the word out about us and what we have to offer? Today we are inundated by methods in which we can communicate with the world, but we need to understand how to communicate effectively and efficiently. Everything we’ve identified earlier comes into play in choosing our mediums. In general, in my opinion, there are a few basics which everyone should have today and use to the best of their ability. Unfortunately, not everyone is using these tools and strategies.
Personal Website or Blog
This is probably the one that many are lacking the most due to lack of skills and knowledge of how to accomplish it. The website or blog is a great way to publish who you are, what you do, how you can be reached, and possibly your view point on various topics (aka blog). Even though it may seem a large task, it is relatively easy today and can cost less than $100 per year. It is as simple as utilizing the free website software WordPress which allows you to create your website or blog with a very low cost of entry. All that is needed to get started is to go to a web hosting company such as BlueHost, register a domain name (yourname.me or yourname.com) and get hosting for less than $5 per month. There are many YouTube videos available on all aspects of WordPress and consultants who specialize in it.
The site should contain the following pages and links:
- Home Page – this is a general summary about you, your business and what you have to offer
- About Page – This page should tell your story and what makes you unique.
- Contact Page – How can people contact you? Email, phone, social media?
- Services or Products – What do you have to offer your audience? What can you do for them?
LinkedIn Account or Page
Just about everyone in the workforce has a LinkedIn page. If not, establish your account and take time to fill it in honestly. Your page should have a decent head shot, page header image and summary. Just like your resume, those browsing will only be spending a few seconds to glance at it. The top sections should be enough to get them interested and want to engage with you.
The remainder of the page consists of your career experience and education. However, it is important to include elements from your portfolio in the media links sections. This will give others an idea of what you’ve accomplished and examples of past work.
Using Video to Engage and Influence
Over the past few years, video has entered on to the main stage as a way to connect with other people. In fact, it is probably the second most effective method to speaking live in public. Video allow you to show that you are indeed a real person with talents and knowledge. Getting into video is relatively easy and can be free. All you need is a smartphone camera and a YouTube account and channel.
There is a great misunderstanding that videos have to be perfectly edited. Yes..they should be professional, but a little roughness shows humanness and authenticity.
Although there are varying opinions on video profiles and resumes, they are a good tool for people to get to know a little bit about you. Just keep the video within 30 seconds to a minute. Anything longer will be overlooked.
Public Speaking Engagements
Public speaking is not just giving a talk to a group of people. It is anytime you communicate with someone you are publicly speaking. Therefore, every word you say and how you say it counts. We’ve all been doing it from the time we’re in grammar school. The key is to master the art of communicating and presenting an image. This is a learned and honed skill as discussed earlier. When mastered well, it is the most effective method of building our brand and getting ourselves booked and picked up as compared to any other online method.
When we speak publicly on a topic that we know, we are establishing ourselves as an expert in that field. The goal is to come across as being sincere and open to the audience. We want to establish that human connection with the audience. When we’ve done this effectively, people will want to engage with you more and get to know you more personally.
Therefore, if we are looking for the next big contract or job, we should be out talking to people and building up ourselves. When we do that, people will notice and then elevate and recommend us.
Our brand and uniqueness is very important to our overall success both professionally and personally. The goal is to plan and layout what you want people to see and compose that image, while being true, honest, and authentic. If you take the tips and advice laid out and work on each element, you will build and execute a solid brand.