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What Is Your Personal Brand?

Steven Snyder Posted by Steven Snyder.

Steven Snyder, PhD, is the founder of Twin Cities–based Snyder Leadership Group, an organizational consulting firm dedicated to cultivating inspired leadership.

What Is Your Personal Brand?

If you are like most people, you haven’t paid much attention to your personal brand. But marketing guru Dorie Clark argues that this could be a costly mistake. Your personal brand is your most valuable asset, and you should care a lot about it. In fact, you should take proactive steps to audit, test, and define your brand, otherwise you will miss out on crucial career opportunities.

In her well written and compelling book, Reinventing You, Clark deftly offers a practical guide to intentionally shaping and molding your personal brand. The first step, of course, is the same as what large companies do to discern their branding strategy: a brand audit.

This is where Clark’s book shines. She guides you through a step-by-step process to hold your own mini-focus group. Clark’s advice is nuanced and insightful, not your typical career gobbledy-gook.  She encourages that you ask questions like: “What are three words you’d use to describe me?” and “If you didn’t already know what I do for a living, what would you guess?” Asking these types of questions of people who know you, can give you remarkable clarity and insight into who you really are.

Once you have a solid understanding of your starting point, you need to have an equally grounded vision of your destination. Here, Clark challenges you to impose the same data-driven discipline: do the research. To guide you, she introduces concepts common in marketing, but uncommon in career management, like a “positioning statement.”

With the starting place and destination clearly in mind, Clark guides you down a path to get from here to there. In each chapter there are pearls of wisdom, drawn not only from her personal experience, but also from numerous in-depth interviews.

Clark knows first-hand the value of her approach. Early in her career, she was laid-off from her job as a newspaper journalist, casting her into an angry sea of despondency. The timing didn’t help.  Her lay-off came on September, 10, 2001. We all know what happened the next day. But the frantic struggle for survival led to her first reinvention, when she received an offer from Robert Reich, the former US Labor Secretary. Reich, who was running for governor of Massachusetts, asked her to become his press secretary.

Clark’s experience proves that the process of reinvention isn’t always predictable. Instead, it’s a swirl of serendipity, enabled only through diligent preparation and analysis.

While the need for reinvention is sometimes triggered by an unexpected event, like a lay-off, Clark argues that you should undertake these steps even if your world isn’t in crisis. In fact, upon learning about Clark’s book, I decided that I needed to go through that exact process. I am glad I did, as it led me down a pathway that I might not otherwise discovered.

Chock-full of valuable suggestions, Reinventing You will catapult you into creative and energetic action. It is one of the most helpful books I have ever read.