Branding, Blogging and Googling Your Way to Career Success Create a Brand Branding, once the domain of corporate America, has made the quantum leap to personal America. According to William Arruda, branding means "identifying and communicating what makes you unique, relevant, and compelling." In basic marketing lingo, the word is "product differentiation." Today, it means, as Arruda writes in his Reach Branding Club workbook, "understanding your attributes - strengths, skills, values and passions - and using them to separate yourself from your competitors or peers." It's about "clearly communicating your unique promise of value, something no one else can provide," to your employer or client. In delivering this message to your target audience, it must meet their needs, desires, concerns, interests and expectation, says Arruda. Key points include: Authenticity: Your brand must be built around your passions, values, and dreams. To maintain an "edge" your offering can't be a commodity. Know thyself: Highlight what makes you exceptional and promote yourself based on these attributes. What nouns, adjectives and phrases best describe you? Analyze these and adopt them within your branding statement. Know your competitors: You can't stand out until you know where you stand. First, clearly describe your competitors. Know your target: You can't effectively mass-market yourself. You must aim at a specific audience. Focus before firing. Express yourself: Based on your exceptional attributes, knowledge of your competition, and understanding of your target audience, create a brand statement - the essence of your brand. For example, the short version of mine: "Facilitating discovery." The full statement: "Helping clients discover the power of their potential." Here, I have positioned myself as a tool. In writing a résumé for a client, I probe through a series of questions to help the client to understand the value they offer as expressed through their contributions: the programs they've created, the process improvements, marketing innovations, or technologies they've introduced. In short, their impact on the company or the community. Evaluate: Develop metrics or a system to measure your success. As a résumé consultant, I ask clients for feedback on their project/job search - both during and after the process: How did you hear of me (yellow pages, online directories, referral, Web site?). What did you think of the information-gathering - the interview process? And I seek their input to update me during their job search. Evolve: Remaining relevant means adapting to change. Add new products or modifications of old ones: printed résumés = diskette résumés = CD ROM résumés etc. In closing, I seek through the interview process, to identify a key personality trait, skill, or passion within each client and translate it into a kind of "brand statement" within their résumé. For example, a construction superintendent might say, "The more demanding the challenge, the more important it is to complete the project on time, within budget." Blogging Along the Frontier In 2004 Merriam-Webster announced that "blog" was the word most looked up in its online dictionary and other Internet sites. In fact, this discovery led to "bloggers," those who create and use blogs, being named people of the year by Time magazine. And Fortune magazine named blogs as the number one technical trend of 2004. A blog, as most of us know now, is a journal kept by an individual and made available on the Web. The word's etymology is derived from "web log." Habitual users, as Joseph Epstein wrote in a Wall Street Journal column in 2005, should probably be called "blogophiles," which I guess makes me, according to Epstein, a "blogophobe," since I am still shuffling, very unequivocally, two years later and much behind the trend, to jump on the "blogwagon" (this term, unabashedly, I will credit to myself) and implement into my business. Beyond these thoughts, here's what I've learned: Since blogs are journals, so to speak, our clients could use them to promote their personal brands and enhance credibility and visibility. If well-executed, a blog would be a valuable networking and image-building tool. They create "community." Readers can comment on one's posts. They're easy to create (no knowledge of HTML is needed). They provide a simple way to post new content on your Web site. They're search-engine friendly - and can help drive traffic to a practitioner's Web site. Using TypePad résumés, or excerpts from a résumé, can be posted (with some technical ability) online. However, it would be better to provide links on the blog to downloadable versions (Word, ASCII, PDF) of the résumé available online. Google Me, Google You According to a recent article in the Wall Street Journal, "You're a nobody unless your name Googles well." Depending upon your point of view, I'm either a somebody - or a nobody. My name, actually, Googles well. Unfortunately, I'm not the Douglas Morrison referred to on the Web. As of August 24, 2008 on Google, there were more than 432,000 listings for Douglas Morrison (many redundancies, though I'm ranked #4), including a great many for James Douglas Morrison (aka Jim Morrison, the late rock star/poet, of The Doors), whose name Googled so well, I couldn't compile an accurate tally. Today, if you're looking for a job, both employers and recruiters alike are looking at you. A 2005 poll conducted by Harris Interactive indicated that 23 percent of people search the Web for the name of a business associate or colleague before meeting them. And hiring managers and recruiters Google prospective candidates as well. In fact, more than 80 percent of executive recruiters use search engines, like Google, to learn more about candidates, according to a recent survey by ExecuNet, the executive networking firm. This practice, I've recently learned, has developed into quite a cottage industry. Over the last several years, commercial services have sprung up to simplify the process. These include, for example, Ziggs, LinkedIn, ZoomInfo (formerly Eliyon) and Ryze. Such sites allow users to easily and quickly create their own online professional profiles and include information like employment history, education, or even a photo. Recently (in hopeful expectation of becoming somebody), I joined LinkedIn. Now I'm a somebody, one of 39 illustrious somebodies, most, I'm sure, much more illustrious than me. And a cross-reference directory check on ZoomInfo revealed that I was also one of 226 Douglas Morrisons. So far I'm uncertain how I will use my new-found "somebodieness" to lucrative advantage, but according to Webworkerdaily.com, there are at least than 20 ways to use it as a business-building tool (see webworkerdaily.com/2007/06/15/20-ways-to-use-linkedin-productively for an explanation). In closing, if we are to maintain a competitive edge, grow a business, or seek a new job, we must use technology which has irrevocably altered the architecture of our business landscape. Doug Morrison, a Charlotte based resume writer, has been helping executives write their resumes for over 20 years. His North Carolina resume writing service has helped thousands of sales and marketing professionals add adrenaline to stagnant careers. Call 800-711-0773 or visit http://www.careerpowerresume.com for a complimentary resume consultation and put the life back in your career.