How and Why You Need to Create Brand You

john-c-ashworth-in-wig

How and Why You Need to Create Brand You

written by john c ashworth

Like it or not, to thrive in today’s business world as either a business owner or employee, branding yourself is essential. As Alina Tugend points out in her article over the weekend in the New York times, “You’re not a worker, you’re not a job title! You’re a brand!”

I realize that to those of you who don’t own your own business, and have no intention of starting one, that this might sound like complete craziness. To the non-business owner, the idea of branding oneself starts to feel a little too much like selling and marketing and I realize that for many of you fitness professionals, your passion lies more in simply helping people achieve their peak health. I get that. But here is the reality…

The reality is that job markets are tighter than ever and if you want to secure your position for the long run, branding yourself is part of that. Remember, you’re not a worker, you’re not a job title, you’re a brand.

When I worked for Dean Ornish back in California, I was known by all of the participants in the research we were doing as the Squat King. Every time I led a workout with these folks, we performed lots and lots of squats (within reason, of course…these people were older folks).

I did this because in 5 years working in the clinical arena, I learned that if I could improve the lower body strength of older people by just a little bit, there were dramatic improvements in their overall quality of life. One thing was for sure though, they always knew that if we were exercising, we were going to do some serious squatting – every time!

This is a small isolated example of how you can begin branding yourself as a fitness professional, but I think it helps to begin making the point.

Today, there are many tools available for helping you create “Brand You.” And the tools online are probably the most powerful and the most important. Not having a presence online today could be considered the equivalent of not existing.

Like it or not, your employers, your client prospects, your friends and colleagues are going online to find out about you. Will they be rewarded for their efforts, or be left wondering if you even exist. Or worse, will they be left wondering if those photos of you on Facebook doing that beer bong are just part of your past, or still a regular ocurrence on a Saturday night. (By the way, if you’re a serious career fitness pro now, all those photos need to go anyway).

What kind of impression are you leaving people online, and what do you need to do to both improve it, and make it more visible?

If you’re a business owner, you already have a presence online (you better). Is it doing for you what you intended? Is it working for you 24/7 to reinforce your brand? Or is it just sitting there like your 90 year old grandfather, asleep in the recliner, attracting attention only once in awhile when he snores and turns his head?

If you’re a job seeker, you have likely posted your resume online in various places, but have you considered how much more powerful your online presence would be if you actually spent some serious time and effort creating an online presence designed to promote “Brand You?”

the ash flash is a perfect example of what I’m talking about. The writing itself is a reflection of me, my belief systems, my philosophies, and my expertise. If you spend time reading the posts, you will hear a voice and be able to decide whether or not I am someone you might want to network with, hire, or form a strategic alliance with. But it doesn’t stop here…

I also have a fitness blog and every post I make to Twitter, Facebook, and each blog site is considered carefully to make sure that it fits in line with my philosophy and the image I’m trying to create. I don’t update my Twitter and facebook accounts with little tidbits about how I just gave my kids a bath, or brushed their teeth. I work hard to consider my following and continue to create writing and content that I trust is helpful in people’s lives. This is part of my brand.

Now, before you get carried away and begin creating profiles on every social networking site out there, creating blog sites to post to, and spend any money re-building your web site, let me guide you.

Spreading yourself too thin in this process can be a disaster! Believe me, it’s a lot of work keeping all of this stuff alive, active, and fresh. You also need to think through the process carefully. Finding your niche is the key. And along with that, deciding on what your ultimate goal is for working to create your brand is vitally important.

You might be looking for a job, building a business, or simply trying to create ways for colleagues to communicate with you. Or it might be all three of those. The important thing is that you know what you are trying to do before you start.

Dan Schawbel, author of “Me 2.0: Build a Powerful Brand to Achieve Career Success” (Kaplan, April 2009), and a personal branding guru (that’s his brand, by the way) recommends a four-step process for making your brand happen:

Discover, create, communicate, and maintain. Create your own personal branding toolkit.

This means, finding your passion and putting it together with your expertise, and then creating a “personal branding tool kit”, which may include a résumé, online profile on Facebook or LinkedIn, a blog and a portfolio of your work if you have one. All of this should consistently reflect your brand.

You then need to pitch your brand online and offline; and probably most important, you need to update and monitor any conversations about your brand. You need to communicate through these online mediums on a regular basis so that people can continue to learn about you, your expertise, your passions, and your pursuits. Give people a reason to know and follow you.

“Find Your Passion” by the way, is the title of my more personal blog (which has just been re-created and I still need to move some posts over there so there is not much there yet). In this arena my goal is to inspire others to find their own passion for life by experiencing mine through my own writing about my every day life as a Dad, Business Owner, and entrepreneur.

If you are interested in learning more about how to create your personal brand online, stay tuned to this blog for announcements about programs and services that we will soon be offering to help you do just that.

In the mean time, if you’re a fitness business owner and already have a blog site, but find it difficult to post to it regularly enough, we have a new content service here at the ash flash that can help. Click here for details

-John