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In light of my new book, Me 2.0: Build a Powerful Brand to Achieve Career Success (Kaplan), coming out internationally today, I want to share the main process used in the book that will help you build a powerful brand.  Personal branding helps you stay very productive because you can focus on projects you enjoy and have a sense of purpose and passion behind them.  It’s really hard to be productive, without truly loving what you’re doing, because motivation is so critical to achieving maximum results.  There are many other benefits for personal brands, such as the ability to demand a premium price, just like Donald Trump has done with the ties and steaks that wear his name.  Also, you gain greater visibility and acknowledgment for your work and opportunities that your peers won’t be able to maintain.  The four step process (DCCM) I’ve developed over two years ago walks you through self-discovery, all the way to maintaining your brand as it grows.  Today, I’m going to briefly walk you through each, so you have a better idea of where you stand and what you need to do to find your passion, monetize it and lead a happy life.

Discover

In order to really understand who you are and carve out a career path moving forward, investing in self-discovery is critical. In fact, if you don’t spend time learning about yourself, your values, personal mission, and unique attributes, you will be at a disadvantage when marketing your brand to others. Start by removing yourself from distractions and ask yourself, “Who am I?” and, “If I could do anything, what would it be?”  Also, when discovering your brand, you’ll want to lay out a development plan for yourself, that includes your current situation and your goals broken down in intervals, from one year to twenty years in the future.  It’s extremely important to have a destination in your head and on paper before proceeding to create your brand in step two.  The most successful individuals will be able to merge their passion with expertise, so that they have the fuel needed to push through adversity, and the skills required to solve customers problems.  Also, selecting an unsaturated niche that you can claim during this stage is significant for positioning your brand as unique.

Create

Creating your personal brand is all about forming marketing materials that position you as extraordinary in your niche.  When I was at college, I used to bring a resume, cover letter, CD portfolio, references document, and business card with me to interviews.  I even had my own promotional website.  With the rise of web 2.0 and all of these social media tools, we can get far more creative these days.  For instance, now you can create a blog, or a video resume on YouTube or a LinkedIn profile to separate yourself from the other individuals applying for the same jobs as you.  The point of creating your brand is to have several materials online and offline that can help sell you.  They are all used as talking points that can get a conversation started between you and your audience.  Online, they tell your audience more about what you do, what you offer and the benefits of working with you.  Offline, they are used in situations where people need a visual display of your brand.

Communicate

Now it’s time to use everything you’ve created to let people know you exist.  The communication stage is focused on allowing you to gain the necessary visibility to be recruited based on your passion or what people readily see online.  The are many direct and indirect methods of attaining this visibility, such as commenting on blogs or attending in-person networking events in your industry.  You can even do some freelance writing for magazines, newspapers, online websites and blogs to get your name out there.  When it comes to your own blog, if you build it, they won’t come.  You have to find way to attract your audience, which could mean joining forums, interviewing experts, starting a newsletter, networking with people in your industry and much more.  In this step, you’ll want to put on your “personal PR” hat and leverage your materials to pitch the press, which includes bloggers and traditional journalists now.

Maintain

As you grow, mature, and accelerate in your career, everything you’ve created has to be updated and accurately represent the current “brand you.” It’s very easy to be careless with your online brand, leaving your websites months or even years old or your LinkedIn profile positioning you as an intern, instead of a marketing manager.  Going back to everything you created and updating it with fresh information is critical.  Also, you need to monitor your brand online to ensure all conversations about you are positive and factual. Brand maintenance also captures reputation management, where you have to own your Google results by ensuring that you have the right social networking profiles setup and monetized, as well as enough content created or press mentions to own the top ten results for your name in Google.

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