It can be hard to articulate who you are in a concise and compelling manner.

No matter where you’re in your professional career it can be tricky to highlight your success and differentiate yourself from others. However, the good news is that you can figure this out. By taking a step-by-step approach, you can uncover who you are, understand how you are being perceived, and craft your narrative to achieve better results. Similar to a company or product, you can develop your brand to resonate and connect with others in an authentic manner. To get started, here are steps you can take to harness your “YOU-ness” and cultivate your personal brand:

First, start with you.

All transformation starts with the individual. Your greatest tool is your capacity to choose your mindset and actions moving forward. This means, how you define and present yourself to an audience. For instance, what you say and how you say it should be personalized to the audience and the message you want to get across. You are empowered and accountable for how you depict yourself. As Mahatma Gandhi said, “be the change you want to see in the world.” Read more in this article, “Transformation starts with I”, and commit time to focus on you.

Second, understand your preferences.

Like any change or introspection, awareness and acknowledgment are key to understanding why we do what we do. If you’re not already familiar with your Myers-Briggs® Type or preferences, it’s worth the time to discover it. Once you do, you can apply these learnings to your career growth and trajectory. Rather than just reviewing a reported type that is automatically provided when taking the assessment, I encourage you to work with a certified practitioner. This individual will make sure that you determine your best-fit type. For example, I take my clients through a high-level overview and conduct interactive exercises to learn more about the individual. This is all before, assessing their self-reported and computer-generated results together.

Third, reflect on how people perceive you.

This means understanding whether or not people are seeing you the way you want them to. In other words, are you sending mixed messages? Likewise, does the experience people have with you measure up to what you say about yourself? In addition, would they confirm your strengths and best characteristics? Your behaviors and how you are showcasing your wants and needs may be right on target or entirely opposite of what you intended. The FIRO® instrument provides understanding around our interpersonal relationships and illuminates what we express to others and what we expect in return. Just as with our biological needs, we may become uncomfortable and anxious if our interpersonal needs are not being met. Similarly, FIRO insights can provide you the clarity to uncover better ways to interact with others and manage their expectations, and ultimately your brand.

Fourth, develop your unique value proposition.

To cultivate your personal brand, you need to choose and foster what you uniquely offer. In particular, what do others attribute to you? These qualities equate to your unique value proposition (UVP). It’s why people want to hang out and work with you. For example, are you known to be kind, reliable, or dependable? It’s through your interactions that people feel your brand via their experience with you. In addition, how you shape and tell your message becomes part of your brand and its promise. Furthermore, it’s the outward expression of your UVP with concrete facts and anecdotes that come together for your storyline. Here are five quick steps to help you frame your message in a captivating and succinct manner.

And fifth, create a change action plan.

After reflecting on what you’ve learned about your current state in the previous steps, you can outline your desired state. From there you can produce a change action plan to help you close the gaps to cultivating your personal brand. Read this article to help you get started on your change journey. Also, as you map out your “to-dos” think about documenting a “stop, start, continue” list to prioritize what gets your attention. This way you can eliminate activities that are no longer valuable to your success.

Once you’ve gone through these steps and have an outline of your personal brand, you can update your essential materials to reflect it. This includes your resume, LinkedIn profile, narratives, and case studies that you’d share in an interview or important meeting to articulate who you are and showcase your YOU-ness.

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