How to be the CEO of “ME” Incorporated: Personal Branding

Every company understands the significance of branding and the role it plays in their success as a whole. Today, in the oh so competitive world of job searching and some of our, now, ambiguous futures we have to make ourselves a brand worth buying into. The thing we have to realize is that we are all worth the price that we “sell” ourselves for; each of us having different valuable brand qualities.

The COM 400 Capstone course encourages students to write down and memorize an “elevator speech.” This is a 15-30 second rendition encompassing all of our greatest qualities that really sells ourselves to whomever we are talking with. That 30 seconds could move us from having zero job offers to having them lined up. However, in order to move forward in making this speech we must analyze ourselves and pinpoint our biggest strengths.

This process can be started by, first, identifying all of the qualities and characteristics that make you distinctive from your competitors (a.k.a. people looking for the same job opportunities). What makes you stand out? In order to have success at self-branding you must find what makes you the zebra in a herd of horses, this is what is going to grab others attention. To start with, ask yourself: what work am I the most proud of? What do I value the most about my abilities? Etc. Asking yourself these types of questions will help you in evaluating your personal strengths and weaknesses or areas for improvement. Utilizing your strengths and highlighting them is a key component to making you stellar competition. Seth Godin states in a personal interview, “It’s all about how you can connect with people, how you can bring them up.” Your values are how you connect with others – it’s the difference of just being good to being great at what you do.

An article from Fast Company says, “Don’t sell the steak, sell the sizzle…no matter how beefy your set of skills, no matter how tasty you have made your features – you still have to market the bejesus out of your brand – to customers, colleagues, and your virtual network of associates.” Every decision and every move you make counts. When you are branding your image people are watching your every move, just as they would in scrutiny of any other brand. Your values and character is being weighed the moment you start branding yourself. Word- of – Mouth marketing is one of the most important marketing assets you have; what people have to say about you makes all the difference.

With that being said, once you have delivered your “Me” message and have gained the attention of others you have more than likely also obtained more confidence in yourself. This is good. However, you now have more power and more influence over others making you a leader to some. It is just as important to maintain and strengthen your brand as it is initially making it. Just as much as you are leading others, you are leading yourself. James M. Kouzes and Barry Z. Posner report in their book, The Leadership Challenge, that followers expect four things from their leaders: honesty, competence, vision and inspiration. These are qualities that lay the foundation of your brand and make you the “CEO of Me Inc.” You have potential to make your brand known and maybe even famous. You have that power, how will you use it?

-Katelyn Alston