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Professional success today requires that you change the way you think about your career—by treating career management as an ongoing activity.

Creating your personal brand helps you do so—with the ultimate goal of distinguishing yourself. But before you start working on building your brand, you need to adopt a new mindset—the "Career Distinction" mindset.

This new way of thinking about your career is comprised of four simple principles. Adopt these principles, and get ready to grab hold of your future.

Principle No. 1: Stand out: Stand for something

Just doing your job, and even doing it well, is no longer enough. "Loyalty" and "longevity" were the watchwords of the past. In today's workplace, creativity trumps loyalty; individuality replaces conformity; proactivity is more valuable than hierarchy. You mustn't wait for job assignments—you must create them.

With intense competition and pressure from shareholders to deliver ever-higher returns, companies have begun scrutinizing each employee to assess his or her value to the organization. If senior marketing leaders don't know you're there (regardless of the hard work you contribute), then they figure they won't miss you when you're gone. And, as you are probably well aware, when budgets need to be slashed and people need to be let go, all eyes are on the marketing department.

In sales, independent business, and even politics and the media, people have realized that you need to make a name for yourself if you hope to stay in your profession. Those who can simply do the job won't receive nearly as many opportunities as those who carve out a unique niche for themselves.

And the higher you move up the corporate ladder, the more important this personal branding becomes. It's all about adding value beyond what your colleagues deliver. It's about standing out, and standing for something.

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image of William Arruda

William Arruda is a personal branding pioneer, the founder and CEO of Reach Personal Branding, and the author of Ditch. Dare. Do! 3D Personal Branding for Executives.

Twitter: @williamarruda

LinkedIn: William Arruda