by Dan Schawbel
Personal branding is about unearthing what is true and unique about you and letting everyone know about it. As a brand, you are your own free agent: you have the freedom to create the career path that links your talents and interests with the right position and the ability to move both vertically and horizontally, now and throughout your career. You can even switch career paths when you feel it is necessary.

You also have the opportunity to stand out and make a name–through your brand–for yourself. Th e fact that owning a website is so easy gives everyone a chance to develop and market a personal brand that shows the world who they are and what they're capable of. For instance, on the Web, you have the opportunity to promote brand YOU by joining a social network and using your page as a billboard to advertise your talents and goals.
Thanks to technology, you can reap the same rewards as the billion-dollar brand names, from Trump to Gucci, through effective marketing. Creating a brand isn't just about technology, though. By focusing on delivering results, being remarkable, and learning new skills to adapt to our ever-changing world, you can make your brand memorable, and opportunities for success will follow.
Don't think of the brand called YOU as being confined strictly within a single corporate environment. Even if your current job description and title put you in a corner, both literally and practically, you can–and should–stand out as an individual with a unique set of talents and marketable skills. Remember, no employment contract spans a lifetime, which means you have the mobility and freedom to shape your career path as you see fit.
If you're on a career path that makes you happy–work it. Make the most of your talents and skill set to achieve maximum success.
If you're on a career path that does not make you happy–change it. Find the right path for you and focus on making it work.
If you're unsure about your future–define it. Weigh all the factors that matter to you and find the career path that fits best.
You need to approach your career in terms of differentiation (standing out in the crowd) and marketability (providing something other people want or need). Why would someone choose your brand?
A robust professional network
Endorsements from respected colleagues
Previous accomplishments with cataloged results
A diversified and unique skill set
The same rules that apply to corporate brands apply to personal brands. Te successful brand YOU marketing model has the proper mix of confidence, passion, likeability, determination, and focus. When you look at successful business leaders, such as Warren Buffet or Rupert Murdoch, you realize that each has a self-purpose, a call to action, and a desire to win. They all shared this marketing model, and you should too.
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This post is excerpted from Chapter 1 of Me 2.0, by Dan Schawbel, which Kaplan released today.

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Ann Handley is a Wall Street Journal best-selling author who recently published Everybody Writes 2. She speaks worldwide about how businesses can escape marketing mediocrity to ignite tangible results. IBM named her one of the 7 people shaping modern marketing. Ann is the Chief Content Officer of MarketingProfs, a LinkedIn Influencer, a keynote speaker, mom, dog person, and writer.