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Personal Branding


“People seem to want to be famous, and people love to read about the comings and goings of the rich and powerful.

I think there’s a way for each of us to carve out a certain claim to fame. Experts refer to it as personal branding.

Personal branding involves becoming known for one skill or attribute. It’s a strategy that many companies have mastered. When consumers think about Volvo, they think safety. Starbucks brings to mind premium coffee.

People can brand themselves in the same way as companies. I know an administrative assistant who became skilled in preparing PowerPoint demonstrations for executives. This was long before those slides became so integral to our culture. Everyone at the company began to depend on Mary to help with presentations. Mary parlayed that skill into becoming administrative assistant to the vice president of sales. She branded herself as a PowerPoint specialist, using her skills to gain a promotion.

One of the most important things about branding is to tap your own passion. You must become skilled at something you do well, but it should also be something you love.

Reminds me of what happened to Wally Amos. He was unhappy working in a talent agency but enjoyed baking cookies at home using the recipe of his beloved aunt. His friends loved his cookies and encouraged him to distribute them to retail outlets. Amos started selling the cookies to local delis, which led to department stores, and soon he developed Famous Amos cookies, marketed worldwide. Amos had branded himself as Mr. Chocolate Chip Cookie.

Anyone can become a personal brand. The tailor who alters blue jeans can become known as the ‘jeans guy’, and even the auto-shop owner who keeps old cars running can be branded as ‘car saver’.

Here are some of my tips for becoming a personal brand:

* Become an expert at one thing that is your interest, but build collateral skills.

* Establish a target audience. Are you aiming at single men aged 20 to 30 or women 40 to 60?

* Once you master something, spread the word. You can start with word of mouth but then try to generate publicity. Focus on publicizing your effort. Reach out to local radio stations and community weeklies because publicity often starts small and then snowballs to networks and newspapers.

Mackay’s Moral: Be true to yourself. Your personal brand should emanate from what you know and love.”

“Seeking a hot image? Try personal branding” by Harvey Mackay, Outswimming the Sharks. Star Tribune, March 22, 2007 p. D2

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