I’m a list kind of gal. Checklists, to-do lists, packing lists, project lists, lists of art supplies to buy (that one keeps growing) – I love lists as a mechanism for organization and problem solving. Organization helps define the bigger picture, and narrow the path to get to your goal point(s). And as such, I like finding useful ways to apply every-day tools like list building to business and career, as a vehicle for moving oneself forward.
Today, I’m applying the idea of list building as a method for evaluating the effectiveness your personal brand, by taking an inventory of all of your available assets, and how to stitch those together into a cohesive brand message that communicates value. With so many networks and platforms out there to help you carve out our digital (and non-digital) presence, it can be easy to lose track of all of the bits of information you’re collecting and sharing, and end up mismanaging your professional reputation.
You might argue that your reputation is essentially personal brand, or at least a very large piece of it. And your Personal Brand is comprised of the assets that you bring to the table that have potential value (skills, strengths, experience, training, resources, etc.), as well as the vehicles that you use to communicate and present those things (resumes, cover letters, profiles, blogs, interpersonal communications, etc.). And while it’s not necessary to address every one of these categories, you can use this handy list as more of a personal assessment of what you’re putting out there about yourself, how it’s being presented and interpreted, and how that information might be working (or not working) collectively to promote your unique value to potential employers, clients or peers.
These are your career standards, the traditional components of your professional image that are not just part of your personal brand, but more so the vehicles you use to communicate, position and present it.
- Cover Letter
- LinkedIn Profile
- Portfolio or Website: Think about design and branding, and how that appeals to your core audience, and represents both you individually, and your work.
- Network of Contacts: What kind of people do you have your network? The goal is establish quality relationships with others in your industry that you can potentially leverage, and create visibility for yourself.
EDUCATIONAL & SKILL-BASED
- Specialized Skills: What are the core skills you bring to the table, your strengths, your areas of expertise? Why would those be of value to your target audience? What additional skills could you acquire that would add additional value?
- Education & Training: What kind of educational training do you bring to the table, whether it’s basic coursework, or a Masters degree?
- Advanced Professional Training: Have you attained any certifications or additional professional training?
- Additional Skill Sets & Talents: What other skills do you have outside of your education and training, perhaps that you acquired on the job, or taught yourself? How might these tie in with your career focus, or add some new perspective?
- Social Media Profiles: Don’t let the personal undertone fool you – are you projecting a persona on social media that doesn’t reflect how you want to be represented on a professional level?
- Thought Leadership: Do you have a personal or professional blog that represents a particular area of importance or interest to you? How do you use this to engage and connect with others?
- Outside Interests & Ventures: Do you have a side business, an active website, or a creative pursuit that you dedicate time, energy and resources to outside of your traditional work responsibilities? What skills are involved, or has this area allowed you to develop, that might be worth noting?
- Freelance or Project Work: Work or non-work related, what projects are you involved in and what skill sets do they require? Even if they aren’t related to your career focus, what might these accomplishments say about things like your work ethic, your ability to interact with clients, your relationship building skills, your entrepreneurial flair?
- Organizational Involvement: Think about any additional volunteer or advocacy work, or causes you support, lead or are involved in. Why are they important to you?
- Appearance and Dress: Do you uphold a professional appearance on a daily basis, or only when you’re on the spot for an interview or networking event? If someone were to see you on the street, what kind of vibe would you be sending?
- Mannerisms & Non-Verbal Cues: How do you carry yourself when you walk into a room, address someone in conversation, or while listening to someone else speak? Are you well-composed and confident, or fidgety and nervous-seeming?
- Communication Skills: How clearly are you able to address someone and get your message across when asked about your work, your interests, or to introduce yourself to someone? Are you talking too fast, stumbling across your words, mumbling? Or are you speaking slowly, clearly and fluidly in an engaging manner that captures your audience’s attention?
- Language: Do you tend to transition back and forth between professional and casual, dropping derogatory or inappropriate language in conversation, or saying “Umm” and “Like” a lot? Does your language reflect the level of respect and credibility you’re trying to achieve?
Once you’ve taken inventory, it’s helpful to look at all of the different components and make sure each one is supporting the overall message you’re trying to convey. And the best way to gain clarity around this message is to ask yourself: “What do I want prospective employers/clients/peers to know about me, as a candidate, as a professional, or as a person?” This will help you recognize immediately if any of those aspects are not in-line with your brand message, and fix those loose cogs!