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Branding plays a huge role in our consumer-based society. The perception you have of companies and the products you purchase tie directly back to how you perceive the brand. Many people only associate branding with large organizations - those that sell goods to consumers or clients. Branding, however, plays a critical role in how you, as an individual, are perceived, especially at work. Whether you are aware of it or not, you have a personal brand - and like a business, you should continually assess, manage, and fine-tune it.

Branding is important for anyone looking to advance in their career or seeking a job. To this end, defining your brand begins with one core element - how you want to be perceived by the outside world. Everything from what you wear, how you present yourself, to your knowledge and your network will define you as a brand. And you do have control over your brand image.

You may not be aware of it, but you are in fact defining and selling yourself as a brand on daily basis, especially on the job. Presenting yourself in a positive light with your managers, working towards a promotion, or simply interacting with colleagues, are all ways in which you showcase yourself as a brand. And if you are on an interview, personal branding comes into play here as well.

Personal branding begins with defining your brand. How do you want others to perceive you? Start with how you present yourself. First impressions count and they are usually made by what you wear. Just like packaging may subconsciously lead you to like one brand over the other, how you dress says a lot about you as a brand. It’s always important to maintain your own style, but you should also dress appropriately for your workplace. And if you want career advancement or are seeking a specific job, dress for that role.

Be mindful of the impression you make. If you aspire to advance in your career, define this as part of your personal branding. Dress accordingly. Maintain a positive attitude. Look to colleagues or other associates who have traits that you would like to align with your own brand, and follow their lead.

Translate your personal brand to your resume, and online profiles from LinkedIn to Facebook. Keep the information consistent throughout all your networks and always up to date. As a general rule, asses continually look at these materials and asses how they are being presented.

Build your network. The old adage, "it’s not what you know but who you know," goes a long way in personal branding. If you are interested in advancing your career, or looking to pursue a job in a new field, connect with influencers in your industry. Attend events and get to know people. If you have an area of expertise, establish yourself as an expert by offering up your insights on blogs, online posts, or if pertinent to your job, articles and published reports. The same holds true for job seekers. Network with prospective employers and promote your brand.

Put your personality in your personal brand. If you have a sense of humor, showcase it. Maintain a positive attitude. And most importantly, be real and always present yourself in the best of light – on and off the job. Remember, you are the brand.



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