How to Take Your Personal Brand from Zero to 100, Real Quick

By Nicole E. Spears

Screen Shot 2015-07-16 at 11.37.46 PMChances are, you didn’t have to walk uphill both ways to school as a kid. Congrats, millennial! In your day and age, building a personal brand has become the new necessary evil. Whether you love the spotlight or can’t stand talking about ~feelings~, the era of self-marketing is in full-swing. It’s crucial to take the plunge.

You’re hearing from a personal brand junkie. I learned the advantages of bold networking and branding early on. I began to chase passions and define who I wanted to be in my professional realm. I even took my commitment to the next level when I got my signature resumé typeface tattooed on my body before embarking on yet another summer internship. (You can bet my mother just loves that story.)

From the day you choose your career path and far beyond entry into your field as a new pro, your brand will follow you. You’ll soon become known for the work you do, the energy you bring and even the mistakes you’ll inevitably make. Everyone is tied to their brand. Whether or not you choose to take control of your professional reputation is up to you.

(So…do you choose to take the wheel? Smart cookie. Read on.)

Congratulations, you’ve made the right decision! Now you must know that not just any brand will do. You’re showcasing yourself for the world to see – your personal brand should be 1) authentic 2) simple + 3) memorable. (Tweet this!)

Here are four simple ways you can take the cringeworthiness out of your personal brand.

1. Hone in on your X-factor. We all have that one thing that makes us an invaluable asset to the team. Whether it be Excel sheet expertise or sound judgment of professional dress, there is something you can truly shine at. This is so important because that X-factor helps you avoid being siloed into your job description. This one strength will carry you through your career and add that unforgettable knack to everything you touch.

Personal brand model #1: Who does a great job of this? Think back to Food Network’s The Worst Cooks…show contestant Chet Pourciau knew his X-factor was his personal brand.

2. Accept transition. Getting started can be the hardest part. Defining yourself is a daunting task. Take the pressure off by knowing that your personal brand isn’t set in stone – especially if you’re a student. As you continue to learn + grow as both a professional and a fun, unique person, your brand will change along with you.

Personal brand model #2: A mentor of mine once advised me to “plan for the person you are, not the person you want to be.” Kelsey Nelson has since followed her own brand + career path through several cities, roles and opportunities while maintaining the essentials that have defined her all along.

3. Allow your work to speak for itself. Kind of the antithesis of personal branding, right? According to Entrepreneur, company culture is more important than ever. That means you’ll be hired based on what you bring to the table, both culturally and professionally. While your personality will carry a lot of weight in today’s job market, your work should back that up and then some. Build a portfolio that visually and conceptually defines your personal brand.

Personal brand model #3: I’ve admired Jessica Lawlor’s brand for years. Not only has she clearly defined who she is and what she excels at, but she’s put in the hard work to show that actions speak louder than words. Jessica has built the Get Gutsy network and flaunted her content marketing skills all while augmenting her own glowing reputation.

4. Embrace your authenticity. The more comfortable you feel in your brand, the easier it will be to own it. You can grow your brand by blogging, joining professional organizations, freelancing and so much more. There is no one-size-fits-all approach to genuine thought leadership. Itching to find your own path? I’m an INFP, Aries, Prestige-triggered professional whose “True Color” is blue…all of these things comprise my own brand.

What triggers your best and worst self? Share your own results in the comments: Myers-Briggs, True Colors + How to Fascinate.

Personal brand model #4: PR pro and poet Kayla Hollatz owns her brand in every way. Her personality speaks through her tweets (Which is how I know her, btw! #TwitterFriends rule.) and her talent for poetry is baked in to every aspect of her personal, digital brand.

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