By Meg Guiseppi
You've put in the effort to dig deep and identify your unique combination of skills, strengths, attributes, values, and passions that define your personal brand and promise of value.
If you need help developing your brand, read my article, 10-Step Personal Branding Worksheet.
Now that you know what your brand is, does it pass the 3 Cs test? Does it exhibit the characteristics that all strong brands need, to keep it strong and working for you?
William Arruda and Kirsten Dixson, who innovated the strategy in their pioneering book, "Career Distinction: Stand Out by Building Your Brand," say the 3 C's are the cornerstone of personal branding:
Get crystal clear on who you are, who you are not, who your competitors are, and who your target audience is.
Know what differentiates the value you offer over and above others so that you can express it with vitality and confidence.
Identify your competitors (in job search or business) so that you can distinguish your brand messaging from theirs.
Determine how to attract a wide range of people who can aid you in reaching your career goals.
Know who your target audience is and where you can connect with them (online and offline) so that you can strategically position yourself and your value proposition in front of them.
Design your personal brand communications to resonate with your target audience. Determine their needs and create your messaging around your good fit to meet their needs and solve their problems.
For example, don't make the common mistake of creating a generic resume and career biography, trying to cover too many bases and be all things to all people. Your messaging won't help employers, recruiters, and hiring professionals envision you excelling in the job(s) they're trying to fill. You'll be communicating a murky message that won't hit home with anyone.
Consistently express the same personal brand messaging across all communications channels – online and offline.
Put yourself in the place of people assessing you through your communications and deciding whether to hire you or do business with you. If your brand messaging varies from one real-life setting to the next or from one social network to the next or from one website to the next, you will confuse them.
Design all of your personal marketing communications to steadfastly convey your good fit for your target companies or organizations. Adjust your messaging if your target audience changes.
Strong brands are always visible to their target audience.
Stay top of mind with them through social media, real-life networking, and all other personal marketing efforts.
Social networking (LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, etc.) and social media (especially blogging) allow you to constantly update your network and target audience in real-time, with brand-reinforcing messages and content that amplify your visibility and credibility.
Practicing the 3 Cs is like having health insurance for your personal brand and helps you design a far-reaching personal brand communications plan. Include routine monitoring of your online identity by Googling "your name" to assess the ongoing efficacy and viability of your plan. If you find digital dirt, take care of it quickly, if it's something you can control, or work to sweep it under the carpet by building up more positive search results.
Meg Guiseppi, Job-Hunt's Personal Branding Expert and 20+ year careers industry veteran, has earned 10 certifications, including Reach Certified Personal Branding Strategist, Reach Social Branding Analyst – LinkedIn Profile Strategist, and Certified Executive Resume Master. Meg is the author of "23 Ways You Sabotage Your Executive Job Search and How Your Brand Will Help You Land." Connect with Meg at ExecutiveCareerBrand.com for c-suite personal branding and executive job search help and on Google+ and Twitter (@MegGuiseppi). And, you may also download Meg's free ebook - Job-Hunt Guide to Smart Personal Branding with LinkedIn.