It’s not whether you have a personal brand. It’s whether you will write that narrative, or allow someone to write it for you.
Here are two data points to consider as you muse personal branding:
“If you don’t think you have a personal brand, it’s probably pretty bad.” –Some guy on Twitter.
“Personal branding is the practice of people marketing themselves and their careers as brands. While previous self-help management techniques were about self-improvement, the personal-branding concept suggests instead that success comes from self-packaging.” --Wikipedia, with credit to Tom Peters, circa 1997.
Personal branding implies that we are products; products can be marketed, focus-grouped, differentiated and refined. That’s not a bad thing. Remember, I said product. Not commodity. Think iPod v. silica. Consumers have very strong emotional bonds with products, including the professionals they interact with.
Marketing yourself as a product is thinking about your services and how they are unique in the marketplace. I’ll make this quick. Your differentiator is not that you are smart or highly skilled or deliver excellent client service. In competitive markets, that’s a given. Your personal brand and product differentiator is what it’s like to work with you. What is the value-add that clients receive that is uniquely yours?
You may be tempted to answer that you offer business-oriented solutions. That’s what everyone says. The key to your personal brand is the incumbent what, how and why of that service.
I encourage clients to write a passion statement. It’s not easy. But it’s the basis for how you refine your LinkedIn profile and how you sell yourself to the market. At its essence, it’s the vision statement for your personal brand.
Regarding the cobbler and her family’s shoes, my passion statement isn’t complete. It is on a white board in my office where I see it daily and am prompted to constantly refine it. It helps guide what engagements I accept, where I want to focus my business development, and how I want to present my current and future self to the market.
Susan Kostal is a legal marketing consultant and content strategist located in San Francisco Bay Area. Find her monthly column on Attorney at Work & check out more great content here.This post originally appeared in Susan Kostal's Legal Marketing Bits & Bites Newsletter. Sign up for more content here.