When I was a young kid, my family took road trips to the beach, an amusement park, or some city or town we wanted to visit. And to get there, my Dad always took out a map and a highlighter, traced the route along the best highways and roads, and calculated how long it would take us to drive there. Sometimes we had to take detours, and sometimes we stopped to get the car fixed or see an interesting site along the way. But we ultimately got where we wanted to go, and Dad was happy when we stopped asking “are we there yet?”
Creating your own unique personal brand is the same as a road trip – you need to know where you want to go, and you need to develop a roadmap to get there. That’s what Personal Branding 201 is all about. The first step of creating a strong personal brand is understanding who you are as a person. Since you’ve already figured that out (and, if you haven’t, check out Personal Branding 101: Who are you?, you now have a starting point. You know where you are right now, and you know a bit more about who you are and what you have to offer.
Now it’s time to develop your roadmap for creating a strong personal brand. It’s easy, and it just takes a couple of steps:
Step 1: Dream
Take a few moments and visualize where you want to go: Where do you see yourself in five years? Ten years? Do you see yourself living in the same city, in the same job, and participating in the same organizations? Or is it time for a change, time to go in a different direction?
What does success look like for you? Is it opening your own business, becoming CEO of a major corporation, or is it simply doing work you love to do, in a city or small town where you have lots of friends and family.
Write down your dreams – they become your ultimate destination.
Step 2: Plot your roadmap
Once you know where you’re going, you need to figure out how to get there. Sometimes, we like to just “get in the car and drive” rather than know exactly where we want to go. But the problem with that is we never really know where we’re headed, and that can lead to a lot of detours.
Plot out your journey with your ultimate destination in mind. If you want to be a CEO, think about how you work yourself up the corporate ladder. If you want to own your own business, consider the different skills you’ll need to master to be successful. This journey is a series of small steps where you slowly build the skills and credibility you need to earn your success.
Step 3: Start driving
Take your roadmap and begin inching toward your destination. If there’s a detour – and there may be several – take it and see what happens. If your end goal changes, don’t worry. You’ve been driving towards something, and that destination might just surprise you.
My own roadmap had several detours, but I saw some interesting sites along the way, and the destination was worth the drive. I’m still driving towards my next goal; I’m not there yet, but I’m enjoying the sites along the way.
Ric Sweeney is an assistant professor of marketing at the University of Cincinnati and a faculty fellow and Renaissance brother with the Ohio Theta Chapter. He can be reached at email@example.com