The start of 2020 is the perfect time to clarify and sharpen the vision for your personal brand. Too often we take for granted first impressions and how others perceive us. However, such perceptions frequently form the basis for personal and professional success. And today, many first impressions are made online through search engines and social networks. Your personal brand is bound to exist, especially in an online environment — whether you explicitly create it, or whether it is implicitly created for you.
In this interview, Dr. Dawn Edmiston will discuss the value of a personal brand promise and examine practical tools that can be leveraged to create and maintain a professional online profile. Dr. Edmiston will also share how LinkedIn was responsible for finding her dream job and tips for how to leverage your personal brand for success in 2020.
Nathan Pieratt: Could you explain more about the value of a personal brand promise?
Dawn Edmiston: Developing a personal brand promise is a strategic and intentional process that involves understanding and defining your value proposition and sharing it with others. I have defined my personal brand promise as teaching others how to pursue and promote their passions. Your brand promise should serve as your true North, a centering point and a very complex and dynamic world that helps you stay the course. Developing a personal brand promise evolves with both internal reflection and external discussion. We now live in a digital ecosystem that provides us with unparalleled opportunities to connect with anyone, anywhere, anytime. We need to take advantage of this environment and create an online presence for ourselves that allows individuals to quickly understand the value that we can contribute to their lives. Personal branding is critical in 2020 because it's how others are going to identify you and ultimately determine what you can contribute to their organization. Having a well-defined personal brand that is clear and consistent across all media channels, that's one of the greatest competitive advantages that you can have in the marketplace.
NP: What are the first steps an individual can take to develop their personal brand promise?
DE: In addition to the personal inflection that I had mentioned, you can do a simple exercise to understand the external perspective. Ask a few individuals in your personal and professional networks to share three adjectives that describe you. Then ask them to provide three simple statements of things that they think you do well and then you need to ask yourself, are these words and statements reflective of the brand that you want to represent? Feedback from peers, supervisors, clients, are especially valuable to learn how you are perceived in the marketplace. You may actually find that starting with this external discussion is more effective than starting with personal reflection. However, no matter what steps you take first, once you have both perspectives, you need to ensure that there's alignment between how you perceive yourself and how others perceive you. Your personal brand promise ultimately needs to be both authentic to you and appreciated by others.
NP: I'm in the creative industry, and when I think about promoting my skill set, I go immediately to my website. What tools would you recommend we use to promote our brand?
DE: It's interesting that you mentioned that because the question that I tend to get asked the most when I'm presenting at conferences, "Do I need to own a website for my personal brand?" And typically, the answer is no. However, if you are an entrepreneur or one of the celebrity influencers, the need for an online real estate will be your domain name and your URLs that are associated with your brand since your website might be the first place through which individuals will connect with you. Most of us, however, can simply launch social media channels such as Facebook, LinkedIn, YouTube, to support our personal brands. In this case, be certain that your URLs are as consistent as possible. For example, I do own and have my own website at www.dawnedmiston.com, but I've also secured my brand name on social media channels such as facebook.com/dawnedmiston and youtube.com/dawnedmiston. There are free resources such as no one.com that allow you to quickly scan the web for the availability of brand names that you may like to use across social media platforms.
NP: What are some of the mistakes people are making on these profiles?
DE: If you do have a LinkedIn profile but have not been active, I would encourage you to start using it in 2020. The time to build your network is now, not when you are struggling to find your next career opportunity. It's important. It’s hard to talk about yourself. I don't find anything more difficult to do to be perfectly honest with you, but you need to focus. This is not about you. I actually think that we do a disservice when we talk about your resume, your profile, because this is really about those individuals that you are trying to meet. It's about them. This is not about you. You need to understand the language that they value. What's the language of your audience? You need to use keywords that matter to them. If you do not know what keywords matter in your industry, take a look at the position description for your dream job and see what keywords are highlighted and then be certain to start using those keywords, that language within your profile. Branding is so powerful. What we do for our personal brands, we can also do for those in our audience that might be entrepreneurs and have their own businesses or an executive. You can use everything that we've talked about today relative to your products and services that you may market from a professional perspective. Managing your brand is not just about communicating your online image, but also about managing relationships. When you connect, when you reach out to them on LinkedIn, include a personal message as to how you had met or why you would like to connect with them. Our ability to forge authentic relationships from initial interactions is really critical to our ability to reach our goals and knowing when to keep in mind that living our brand is just as important as creating our brand.
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