Personal Branding with Purpose: What’s Your Intention?

You’re well on your way to establishing your online brand. You’ve started a LinkedIn account and are participating in Twitter chats. Your page looks marvelous and your Google+ account is running steadily. Depending on your chosen career field, you may even have an online portfolio to show off your work, the blogs you’ve written and your happy head-shot.

Now answer this… what is your ultimate goal for your personal brand? How would you measure your brand against your expectations?

Are you using your personal brand to develop your career? Expand your sphere of influence? Improve your social life? Start your own business? All of the above?

Tough questions, I know. But good mentors have this habit of making you think… so let’s go!

Step 1: Determine what you want to sell

Here’s a secret: in personal branding, you are not selling you–as in “all of you”. What you are selling, right now, depends on your answers to the questions above: What is your ultimate goal?

Do you want to sell:

  • Your ability to do a specific job?
  • That you’re a problem solver, a communicator, and a leader?
  • Your fit within a certain group or culture?
  • That you exhibit character traits admired by others?
  • Your experience or academic credentials expected by a graduate school?
  • That you’re approachable, coachable, and even adorable (or not?)

Of course you can sell more than one attribute–depending on what you hope to achieve. If you’re about to graduate and are in a job hunt, for instance, your answer just may be “all of the above”.

Whatever your purpose for branding may be–from the simplest (expanding your clout–with a ‘c’ –in social media while in school) to the most complex (becoming CEO of your own start-up, perhaps)–once you know what you want to sell, your personal brand becomes focused, more detailed, and effective.

Step 2: Understand that online branding is just the beginning

Now the work starts, because personal branding is most effective when combined with networking–both online and off.

This part may be scary at first, but it gets easier. Maybe you’re more of an introvert or new in school. Still, you need to stick your neck out, and engage. At first, do what most of us do: hide behind your keyboard while you build courage…

  • Join Twitter chats (some of my favorites: #blogchat on Sundays, #jobhuntchat on Mondays and #GenYChat on Wednesdays).
  • Start your own blog or, if you’re already an experienced blogger, seek guest posting opportunities.
  • Join LinkedIn and Facebook groups–and participate often in discussions; then, connect with the authors and contributors who catch your attention.
  • Build mentor relationships–people who believe in your brand and mission, and are willing to make a huge difference in your future.

Once you’ve taken those baby steps and are engaging digitally, go beyond 140 and the blog comments… and leverage your online relationships! Attend meet-ups, one-on-one coffees, and in-real-life (IRL) networking events. These face-to-face meetings will cement your brand–and move you way past your comfort zone (yes, that’s a good thing!)

Step 3: Drive eyes to your brand by quantifying goals

It’s relatively easy to set goals for your personal branding–and networking. Todd Herschberg, one of the most connected people on LinkedIn, says it really comes to working the plan: “Set out to add two or three new Linkedin contacts a day. In just three months, you’ll add almost 300 new contacts and influencers to your network.”

This goal setting strategy applies to every other aspect of your branding efforts including twitter followers, face-to-face networking, and building mentor relationships–all critical tasks that will result in more views of the personal brand you’ve worked so hard to create.

How will you measure the effectiveness of your personal branding efforts? Three months from now, how much progress will you have made? Keep me posted in the comments!

Determine what you want to sell, incorporate networking and a little elbow grease, and set achievable goals. Your personal branding will soar above your expectations!


Mark Babbitt, the CEO and Founder of YouTern, is a serial entrepreneur and mentor and a passionate supporter of Gen Y talent. Mark contributes to, Glassdoor and Business Insider. He has been quoted in the Wall Street Journal, Mashable, Forbes and Under30CEO regarding internships, higher education’s role in preparing emerging talent for the workforce and career development. Recently, Mark was honored to be named to GenJuice’s list of “Top 100 Most Desirable Mentors”. You can contact Mark via email or on Twitter:@YouTernMark.

Related posts:

  1. Leveraging Social Media in Your Job Search
  2. Personal Branding Predictions for 2010
  3. Facebook: Personal Branding Friend or Foe?

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    Dan Schawbel, the founder of the Student Branding Blog, is a world renowned personal branding expert, the international bestselling author of Me 2.0, as well as the publisher of the Personal Branding Blog.

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    Chelsea Rice is the editor-in-chief of the Student Branding Blog. She began her work for just before graduating from Boston University, where she studied journalism and minored in international relations.

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