Personal branding is about honing your skills, narrowing your focus, and clearly understanding what you’re passionate about. Branding is not just about you being better than your competition. It’s about getting your prospects to choose you as the only solution to their problem. Of course, you can only do that if you have an edge that nobody else has. An edge that is unique enough to be irresistible to others.

Your personal brand affects other people’s decisions about your intelligence, character and ability and determines whether the other person wants to do business with you. The way you act and present yourself has a remarkable impact on the people you meet professionally and socially. This will have a great effect on how others treat you. If your personal brand is not professional and cohesive, attractive, and attracting, you will be passed over; that is a guarantee. In order to stay in the game, to have a great influence on others, to attract more business and be more successful, it is essential that you develop a well-thought-out personal brand. Before you sell anything — your product, company or service — you must sell yourself first. This will allow you to shift the balance of power in your favor. When you brand yourself correctly, you are seen as more desirable and in demand.

Benefits of creating a strong personal brand

Stand out – One of the greatest benefits of your having a strong brand is that it creates a sense of individuality and “separateness” in the marketplace. In that case, your clients are able to easily differentiate your company from your competitors.

Make yourself known – The goal of personal branding is to be known for who you are as a person and what you stand for. Your brand is a reflection of who you are, your opinions, values, and beliefs. Those are visibly expressed by what you say and do as well as your approach to expressing yourself.

Control the process – The branding process allows you to take control of your identity and influence the perception that others will have about you and the services you offer.

Attract clients – A strong personal brand will enable you to attract clients and opportunities. You will position yourself in the mind of your marketplace as the service provider of choice, which will enable you to dominate your market and command higher fees – work less and make more!

Establish yourself as an expert and become a celebrity in your area of specialty – Gain name recognition in your area of expertise where it counts the most – in your customer’s mind. Make a lasting impression and be greatly rewarded for your individuality. Trust, respect, and admiration will follow when your name and message are embossed repeatedly on the consciousness of your target market. The more visible you are to your target audience, the more likely you will be perceived as an expert. Your brand will propel you to the top in your marketplace.
Steps for branding yourself

Branding is much more than just a clever, creative logo or slogan and it’s more than just a unique color scheme. Below are the initial steps that you will want to take in order to start your successful brand image.

Examine the competition – One of the keys to creating a successful brand image is to separate yourself from your competition. You will need to know how consumers view your competition. You need to recognize how your competitors differentiate themselves from their competition. Also, you need to understand your competitors’ strengths and weaknesses. Your business will benefit from possessing this information because you will learn from their weaknesses and learn how to differentiate your company from the competition.

Identify your strengths – Now that you are aware of your competition’s weaknesses, you can begin to focus on your company’s strengths. Perform a target market analysis, learn from it, and use it to your advantage. This is a useful tool to enable you to confirm that your company’s strengths are, in fact, important to your target market. Once you’ve identified your strengths and which strengths are important to your customers, you can discover ways to successfully market those to the public and integrate them into your branding campaign.

Know your customer – Learn more about the customer. Know their purchasing habits. How often do they buy? Do they buy only during sales or promotions? Do they buy an array of products or services or just a select few? These are questions you should ask in order to market more effectively to your customers. Also, know your customers’ lifestyles, needs, mindsets, and attitudes. Knowing and working with these personality traits are also key to your marketing success.

Be your brand – Make sure that your company truly represents how your brand identifies with you. For example, if one of the traits your brand identifies your company with is politeness, be polite. This means that every one of your employees, from the receptionist all the way up to the CEO, needs to live your brand.

Develop a likable personality – One important part of branding is the image that you yourself portray. Developing a likeable personal brand is critical to success. If you want to rise to the top of your particular arena, you need to first be able to sell yourself to your potential customers. Think about it. Would you rather do business with a person who smiles and comes across as friendly or with one who snarls and ignores you? The first impression a potential customer receives is from you. Make it a good one.

Become a great communicator – Research shows that communication skills are the top determinant for upward social and professional mobility.

Become active on social networking websites – By joining social networking websites, especially those that are popular and have a large number of members, you should be able to generate interest in your business, including the products or services that you sell. The interest that you generate mau turn into sales, which will make your social networking experience more than worth it.

For a minute, think of yourself as a company with one employee — you. How much time, money, and energy have you spent on developing a “personal brand” that is unique enough to sell to your market? An individual who has a well-defined personal brand has more status and a tremendous advantage over the competition in the market place. With a great personal brand, you are already half sold and thus, far above the competition. Your personal brand is one of your greatest business assets. Put as much time and effort into it as you do into branding your product. In the end, if you can’t sell yourself, you’ll find it nearly impossible to sell your product.

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Michael Cohn is the founder and Chief Technology Officer (CTO) of CompuKol Communications. He has over 25 years of experience in IT and web technologies. Mr. Cohn spent a significant amount of time at a major telecommunications company, where his main focus was on initiating and leading synergy efforts across all business units by dramatically improving efficiency, online collaboration, and the company’s Intranet capabilities, which accelerated gains in business productivity. He also reduced company travel and travel costs by introducing and implementing various collaboration technologies.

His expertise includes business analysis; project management; management of global cross-matrix teams; systems engineering and analysis, architecture, prototyping and integration; technology evaluation and assessment; systems development; performance evaluation; and management of off-shore development.

Mr. Cohn earned a Master’s degree in project management from George Washington University in Washington, DC; and a Master’s degree in computer science and a Bachelor of Science degree in electrical engineering from Fairleigh Dickinson University in Teaneck, NJ.