By: Melissa Simontis, APR

Simply put, branding is about the FEELING associated with a product or company rather than the product itself. Yet, branding isn’t just for products and organizations. What about personal branding? Are you actively taking charge of brand YOU?

Based on my own research over several years, here are a few tips on how to make personal branding a conscious and ongoing effort.

The most important part of personal branding is figuring out how to distinguish yourself from all the very smart and talented people around you every day. While reputation is important, branding is more than your track record. It’s about creating a message and strategy to promote YOU.

Ask yourself these questions…

What makes you different from your colleagues and competitors? What have you done this week to make yourself stand out? What would your customers and co-workers say are your greatest strengths? What do you do that you’re most proud of? What do you want to be known for?

After you’ve defined your brand, you must gain visibility. How? Sign-up for an extra project at work to showcase your skills, take on a freelance project that introduces you to new people, teach a class, write for a local newspaper column, get yourself on a panel discussion, win some awards.

Everything you do – and everything you choose not to do – communicates the value and character of your brand. From the way you handle phone calls and email messages to the way you conduct business meetings. All these little pieces make-up the larger message you’re sending about your brand.

Another key to growing your brand is realizing that personal branding isn’t all about you. Personal branding is largely about serving others… to make other people successful first, or to help solve other people’s problems. Each success you have while building your personal brand is the result of others endorsing you. Surround yourself with the right people, deliver quality services and make them look good!

If all of this wasn’t time consuming enough, you have to continuously evaluate the value of your brand. Always insist on honest, helpful feedback on your performance. It is necessary for you reinvent yourself by learning new skills on a regular basis.

Personal branding is a simple concept, yet hard to do and inescapable. You are a brand. You are in charge of your brand. And, there is no single path to success. The good news is that everyone has a chance to stand out; a chance to learn, improve and build your skills.

So, if you haven’t done so yet, get started! There is no better time to take charge of brand YOU!

EDITORS NOTE: Melissa Simontis, APR, is the FPRA SWFL Chapter’s newest APR.