I facilitated an “Advanced LinkedIn Strategies for job seekers” yesterday where I usually start by asking the participants to share their self-branding message, USP or Unique Selling Proposition, their specific skills, or even is their edge. Four out of five times the answer is “nothing really”, or “I don’t know”.
Most of them do not know what makes them stands out; I get the same reaction from small business owners that I consult. This is why I thought to write this post, first let me define what is a brand or self-branding and what a USP is.
No matter who we are or what we do; we are all our own brands. Marketing is changing someone’s wants to needs. A brand is not only about experiences but also the ability to market and sell yourself to others as recruiters or customers; a brand is a promise on what we will deliver, or experience, it is also the image, feeling or identity perceived by others about us. A brand has to be consistent across the board.
So personal branding is basically self-packaging on how we present ourselves to others as recruiters or hiring managers if we are job seekers, or as customers if we are small businesses.
The best part of your USP or Unique Selling Proposition is that you already have it, it is within you – it is your special sauce all you have to do is to dig inside, find it, refine it and articulate it.
It is about putting our best foot forward and help others decide to hire us, or buy our products rather than using or hiring the next person. To be outstanding you need to standout. Think like a marketer and the marketing mix the 4Ps:
- Product: is YOU
- Price: Your salary + benefits
- Place: Online
- Promotion: Your online social media campaign/ portfolio
We live in a culture of WIIIFM or What Is In It For Me – meaning we need to portray what value we bring in, what value we can add, what solutions we bring, or what problems do we solve.
That is why we need to define, and be very confident about what stands out about us, what is our edge, what we do better than others, and what is unique about us; and unless we get to the bottom of this our brands will always be incomplete.
A Job Seeker, or a small business has to articulate how different they are, what unique skills and capabilities do they bring as communication skills, languages, what problem do the solve, analytical skills, etc…passion can also be an edge, then packaging all that in a story telling form. For example having lived in 7 countries and 3 continents gives me a firsthand experience on different cultures and different market segments so I always add it as a unique selling proposition.
We also live in times where there is an overload of information and unless we connect emotionally and create empathy, especially with the emergence of social media that is based on human relationships and building and nurturing relationships, our brand will never be remembered. Storytelling is important to get people’s attention to retain our message.
Either job seekers or small businesses, need to have marketing and branding plans, with goals and objectives. To articulate your brand you need to look at yourself and your skills objectively.
These are few points on building a brand:
- Be genuine
No one knows you like you do, focus on what you do best, your unique skills and talents including your passion which is the inside fire that makes you excel in what you do.
- Know your vision and mission (Why and What)
Answer the questions why you are doing what you are doing, what do you do best and what is your purpose
- Personalize your approach, and laser focus on the job you want; to connect easier with the recruiters and hiring managers, or with the audience sensitive to your products and services – to get their attention simply by looking at the world from their perspective, i.e. clarifying that you know, what exactly the audience is looking for, echoing with the hiring manager criteria, or with the customers, making them believe that you have something valuable to offer, communicate potential.
- Have a positioning statement or USP (Unique Selling Proposition) is what people will remember about you, what will separate and differentiate you from all competition in such a way that YOU become the top choice of employers or customers. A personal positioning statement should identify the one or two things that makes you unique and valuable.
- Look for mentors that can guide you along the way
We live in a very competitive world, the better we get at identifying our strong points, the higher and faster we can reach and achieve our goals.
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