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Branding has gotten personal.

An increasingly competitive job market in recent years has led to the birth of the idea of "personal branding," as jobseekers look for ways to stand out to potential employers.

One of the leaders of this burgeoning space is William Arruda, coauthor of the bestseller Career Distinction.

Arruda's philosophy centers on identifying and communicating the unique value you can bring to an employer. If done correctly, your reputation and credibility will help you stand out from the crowd, and create an environment in which job opportunities come to you.

Sounds like the position we'd all like to be in. Here, Arruda guides us through the often confusing employment maze.

Q: You're known as a personal branding expert, but what IS a personal brand, and why is it so important to create a distinctive one?

A: Personal branding is nothing more than understanding what makes you interesting, compelling and differentiated and using that to stand out from your peers. It's about building a solid professional reputation around your unique promise of value.

It's important because there are numerous others with your job title, many people who share your goals. The only way to succeed is to stand out from them and create demand for your services. Otherwise, you are a commodity—and as a marketer, you know that commodities compete on price. If you want to get the compensation you deserve, you need to offer something that is only available from you!

Q: One of the themes you hit on in Career Distinction is taking responsibility for your personal assets, and using them to your advantage in advancing your career. But how can we determine exactly what value we offer to employers and clients? How do we know that we have accurately self-evaluated our strengths and assets?

A: Clearly, you need to do a lot of introspective work to determine your goals, passions, values and so forth; but you also need to get input from those around you. Your brand is held in the hearts and minds of people who know you. This external feedback is so critical to personal branding that we decided to include a password to 360Reach—the leading personal branding assessment with every copy of Career Distinction. Without input from the outside, you only have half the picture of your brand.

Q: You've talked before about the importance of "Googling yourself" so that you know what information is available about yourself online. As social networks such as Facebook and LinkedIn continue to grow, do you feel that maintaining a profile and presence with such social sites helps or hurts your online profile?

A: HELPS! You need to Google yourself or ego surf weekly! We developed a complimentary Career Distinction Online Identity Calculator that helps you evaluate your online profile—Google Quotient (GQ). You can find it here: www.careerdistinction.com/onlineid.

We have had tens of thousands of people use it—and it has only been out for three weeks! So clearly the topic of personal googling has struck a nerve. I can tell you that we learned that the average score for marketers is 6.1 on a scale of 10. That's not bad, but people in R&D had a higher average than that. So marketers need to start building their brands in bits and bytes.

The point is: If you don't show up in Google, you don't exist! That's a reality in the new world of work. All the statistics show that clients, colleagues, hiring managers, executive recruiters, employees are all using Google to learn about you. LinkedIn and other social networking sites allow you to publish your bio, connect with other people in the system, be found by people who need to know you and enhance your online ID. You should have a profile at all relevant social networking sites. In the future, you won't look for jobs, they will come to you. So you need to be visible or you will miss out on lots of opportunities.

Q: Speaking of online profiles, if I Google my name and discover that there are few relevant results for my name, what are some ways that I could boost my Google results and make my online profile more relevant to employers?

A: Easy to do. Here are a few ideas:

  • Review books at amazon.com and barnesandnoble.com that are relevant to your area of expertise.
  • Submit articles to article banks and web portals that relate to your functional area/passion.
  • Claim your profile or start one at ziggs.com, zoominfo.com and ziki.com. They are free.
  • Post comments to blogs that are relevant to how you want to me know.
  • Of course, for most people, having a blog is the ideal way.

Q: If you could give one piece of advice one how to create a distinctive personal brand, what would it be?

A: Be yourself!

Note: William Arruda is a keynote at the upcoming MarketingProfs B2B Forum in October, Driving Sales: What Works, What's New, What Sticks. See the full agenda or register here: https://www.marketingprofs.com/events/.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
image of Mack Collier

Mack Collier is a social-media strategist based in Alabama. He helps companies build programs and initiatives that let them better connect with their customers and advocates. His podcast, The Fan-Damn-Tastic Marketing Show, discusses ways that brands can turn customers into fans. His first book, Think Like a Rock Star: How to Create Social Media and Marketing Strategies That Turn Customers Into Fans, was published in April 2013 by McGraw-Hill.

Twitter: @MackCollier

LinkedIn: Mack Collier