(This article originally appeared in a slightly different form in Process, June 2009)
You’re not going to have that job forever. I’m sorry, but you’re not.
Business is undergoing fundamental and sweeping change, and one of the consequences is that there are no more “lifers” – not in middle management, not on the factory floor, and not in the corner office.
Change is unsettling, but there are things you can control. If you take some simple steps now, then when the day comes that you pack your World’s Greatest Boss coffee cup and your family photos and your geode paperweight into a box and walk out the door of your company for the last time, you also walk out with your knowledge, your skills, your experience, your reputation, and your name.
You’re not going to have that job forever, but you’ll always have your personal brand.
Your personal brand is what people think when they think about you, from your personality to your skills and knowledge to the car you drive and the drink you order at Starbucks. Other people do the thinking about you, but you influence what they think by what you say and do. Here are some easy steps to take right away – you can do them all this weekend – to begin marketing your personal brand.
Buy Your Name
There’s something deeply satisfying about owning your name as a domain name. Maybe not the same thrill as seeing your name in lights on a theatre marquee, but probably as close as you’re going to get. And it’s so easy and inexpensive – $10 or less – that there’s really no excuse not to. There are a lot of options, but I’ll share my favorite easy way to get started.
Go to Dreamhost.com (I’m an affiliate, so I get a reward if you do), sign up for their monthly web hosting ($5.95/month) and get one domain registration for free. Check the availability of your name, and if it’s available, register it. And remember, this is your personal brand, so I’m talking about your name, not ILoveLemurs.com. Once your domain is registered, use Dreamhost’s one-click WordPress install, pick one of the dozens of beautifully designed templates, and in 5 minutes, start-to-finish, you’ve set up web hosting, registered your name, and launched your personal website.
Reserve Your Name
Even if you don’t know what to do with it yet, grab your name in all of the popular social networking sites. They’re all free and it takes less than 60 seconds to set each one up. Get all of these: Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Plaxo. If you’re feeling motivated, get Flickr, YouTube, and SlideShare. They’ll all come in handy eventually in your personal branding campaign.
Your biggest fear when you’re starting out with marketing your personal brand is “Nobody wants to hear what I have to say.” And you’re right, to a point. They don’t want to hear what you had for lunch every day. But people want to do business with and associate with and hire people they like.
So tell us what you believe, what you stand for, what makes you different. Dive in boldly. Use your authentic voice. Share some of your personality, your hobbies, your thoughts on politics and religion and sports, even, once in a while, what you had for lunch. Remember, you’re not the company you work for, and you’re not going to have that job forever. Start marketing your personal brand.
Talk to Me
What are you doing to brand yourself, and more importantly, how are you communicating it? Share your comments.