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The Brand is You

By Sima Dahl
President of Parlay Communications

You can learn to build and promote your most valuable asset—your own personal brand—through smart marketing and social media.

Most business professionals fall into one of these three categories: you're either trying to make rain, find meaningful employment, or climb higher on the professional ladder. And it's easier to do all those things if you have a strong personal brand.

Your personal brand, simply put, is what you're known for—it is comprised of your competence, character, and charisma. Your personal brand is uniquely yours and helps you stand out from the pack of competitors. This is important because customers buy from real people, not corporations. Managers hire real people, not resumes. And members of your network refer real people, not online profiles or business cards.

There are steps you can take to build your personal brand and advance your professional career. You should begin with your positioning statement.

The Positioning Statement

Also known as the elevator pitch, your positioning statement is a brief, easily understood sentence or two that describes 1) who you are, 2) what you do, and 3) why you're special. Emphasis on special. A good positioning statement is:

  • Simple: Convey your general expertise in plain English. Avoid lingo.
  • Short: Use as few words as possible. Aim for a few sentences that you can speak aloud in 30 seconds or so.
  • Intriguing: Why are you unique? Come up with a hook. "I own a chain of laundromats" doesn't hold a candle to "I created this city's first chain of eco-friendly laundromats that cater to a hip urban crowd with free Wi-Fi and 24/7 espresso carts."
  • Exciting: Being exciting helps you be memorable. If you're not excited about who you are, how can you expect me to be?
  • Well rehearsed: It should roll off your tongue with ease.

A positioning statement is not a shorter version of your resume. Instead, it should position you in a particular field of expertise, highlight your unique value proposition, or make it easy for your target audience to understand how they can best help you.

Do Your Homework

That’s right—homework! Reading this article is only a start. To move forward, you've got to take action!

Clear your desk and your mind and start with a blank page in front of you. Now write out your personal positioning statement. Is it simple, intriguing, and exciting? Good. Now try saying it out loud. Oftentimes we need two versions—one for written correspondence and another for verbal communication. Finally practice your pitch until it's perfect. You should be so comfortable saying it that it practically falls out of your mouth when you bend over!

Remember... there is no single asset in your career tool belt more valuable than you!

Sima Dahl

Sima Dahl is a social media strategist and personal branding expert with 20 years experience working for both mature enterprises and early-stage startups. She is well known for her "Sway Factor" approach to social networking and has coached rainmakers, ladder climbers, and job seekers on the art of networking in the digital age. Sima is the President of Parlay Communications, founder and Chief Connector of Marketing Job Wire, serves on the Board of Directors for the Chicago AMA, and blogs about various social media and marketing topics at ExpertBusinessSource.com.