5 Ways to Distinguish Yourself With a Personal Brand

Prompt other professionals to think of you first when they hear about a new business opportunity.

learn more about Jacqueline Whitmore

By Jacqueline Whitmore • Jan 1, 2015 Originally published Jan 1, 2015

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

Personal branding has become an essential part of entrepreneurship. Your brand affects the reputation of your business as much as it does your professional career. Whether you deliberately pursue fashioning one or not, your personal brand affects how you market yourself to those around you.

Your creation of an effective brand helps other professionals think of you first when they hear about a new business opportunity. Whether you need to impress a new investor or convince a client that your business is the best choice for a new project, your personal brand will influence how successful you are when you sell your professional capabilities.

Your personal brand paints a picture of who you are. It encompasses all your characteristics, from the way you dress and the look of your business cards to how you handle conflict -- and everything in between. It results from how you see yourself but adds up to how others perceive you.

Don't let your personal brand develop by accident. That leaves too much to chance. Instead, purposefully determine and cultivate the best brand for yourself as you navigate your career. Ask yourself, How do I want my peers to consider and remember me?

Use these tips to ensure that your personal brand sends the right message.

Related: 6 Things You Forget About When Building a Personal Brand

1. Write down how others describe you.

Think about how you want to position yourself before you create your brand.

What types of comments and feedback have you received from clients, colleagues and acquaintances? What words do they use to describe you? The qualities that others associate with you -- such as intelligence, charm, kindness and humor -- can become a core part of your brand.

2. Develop a tool kit.

Every aspect of your brand should consistently reinforce the message and reputation you want to convey. Create a website, blog and portfolio, along with social-media profiles, to accentuate your brand and better market yourself.

If your professional photograph is outdated, hire a photographer to take a new head shot. It can be included in your branding tool kit and used when you're invited to speak at events or featured in a newspaper or magazine.

For the shoot, select a classic outfit that complements your hair color and complexion. Your photograph should reflect your professionalism and credibility.

Related: How a Vanity License Plate Can Boost Your Business, Not Just Your Ego

3. Choose a car carefully.

The type of vehicle you drive is a personal choice. Though you may think of your car as simply a means of transportation to get you from one point to another, it says a lot about who you are and what you value.

People are often attracted to cars that mirror their self-image, whether it's practical, luxurious or sporty. Whatever car you choose, keep the interior and exterior clean. A poorly maintained or cluttered car can send the message that you're disorganized or irresponsible.

4. Invest in personal stationery.

It's easy and inexpensive to create your own branded stationery. Invest in quality. Opt for paper of heavy stock and choose a color that best complements your brand.

White and ivory business cards are common choices for professionals in traditional and conservative careers, but brighter colors can be eye-catching and convey a more creative tone.

Purchase personalized thank-you notes on 100 percent cotton paper. Though more expensive than thermographed or lithographed stationery, the look and feel of engraved messages will lend a more stately impression.

Get in the habit of sending a personal note whenever someone does something nice for you. This will also enhance your personal brand.

5. Imbue your workspace with your character.

You spend a good share of your waking hours at your desk. Investors, clients and colleagues can glean a wealth of information about you from your office. A workspace devoid of any personal items will make your desk seem barren whereas a cluttered desk filled with stacks of paper and sticky notes may convey disorganization or a lack of discipline.

Don't be afraid to decorate your office with a few personal touches. And if clients regularly visit your workplace, keep it neat and tidy.

Related: Developing a Personal Brand Is Overrated

Jacqueline Whitmore

Author, Business Etiquette Expert and Founder of The Protocol School of Palm Beach

Jacqueline Whitmore is an etiquette expert and founder of the Protocol School of Palm Beach in Palm Beach, Fla. She is the author of Poised for Success: Mastering the Four Qualities That Distinguish Outstanding Professionals (St. Martin's Press, 2011) and Business Class: Etiquette Essentials for Success at Work (St. Martin's Press, 2005).

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