Branding For Success In 2015
“What’s your brand?”
I couldn’t have imagined needing an answer to that question when I started my television career 15 years ago…back when the Internet was just starting to make its mark. But today the world is a much different place, and to succeed requires different strategies and new ways of thinking about how to stand out.
As I begin my own journey as a contributing editor here at DLXVRSN magazine, I want to share what I have learned so far (both as a journalist and a community member) about creating a memorable presence and branding yourself as the polished professional—the most “deluxe version” of yourself, if you will—that you were meant to be.
Define Your True Self
Before you can brand yourself, you have to know who you are…not who you pretend to be, but who you really are and what you need to create a life that is truly meaningful. Ever since I can remember I wanted to be a television reporter. Growing up around the world with my diplomatic family, I watched a lot of CNN International and the news anchors were, in essence, my childhood heroes. They seemed so smart, passionate and professional. In a way, there were the “brand” I wanted to emulate before I even understood what that term really meant. I graduated high school in my native country of Thailand and moved to California to study broadcast journalism at the University of San Francisco. Countless internships and low paying, entry-level TV jobs followed, but I never lost sight of my goal. I finally landed my first news reporter/anchor job in Redding, Calif., and the rest is part of my history.
Of course, your career is just a part of your existence. You also have to define what you want out of your personal life. So as you climb the corporate ladder (or whatever ladder is in your field), don’t forget to invest your time and energy in who and what you love, whether it’s your family, your friends, your pets, or hobbies. Devoting your time to personal passions will make your professional life that much richer.
Establish Your Online Presence
You can’t ignore the power of social media these days, especially for how it can help establish you professionally. As a journalist, I use everything, every day—Facebook, Twitter, Instagram—not only to spread the word about my work but also to get feedback and story ideas from sources and viewers. More and more people are getting their news and information from the Internet, so it’s critical to build a positive online image and reputation. As a mentor to young journalists, I tell them that your future employer are more likely to Google you before they even look at your resume. My advice? Google yourself first! Delete what you wouldn’t want a future boss to see. Also, use professional networking sites like LinkedIn to connect with people in your industry. Protecting your brand means protecting your identity online. Make sure it’s professional and positive.
Don’t Forget Personal Networking
Your Internet persona has to be memorable, but you also have to make a lasting impression in person. Yes, that means stepping away from your computer once in a while and getting out there to network. Meet as many people as you can. I really believe you can land more opportunities with the help of who you know than what you know. As a reporter, my goal is always to track down the “exclusives”…stories no other reporters are getting. I find the most success in keeping in touch with people I meet. You never know what they can bring to the table. This goes for any career. Expand your circles to not just people in your industry. If you are a doctor, meet and greet with start-up entrepreneurs. Chefs, reach out to local teachers. Sometimes the most the unlikely collaborations can create the most compelling brands.
Follow Up and Request Feedback
Once you build your brand, don’t forget the people who helped you along the way. I would never be where I am today without the help of other anchors and reporters who have offered me priceless advice throughout my career. My advice to those who follow in my footsteps: Don’t be afraid to seek out mentors. And once you do, stay in touch with them. How? Call once a year. Send handwritten notes. Buy them lunch. And don’t be afraid to ask for feedback. That’s how you grow and learn. Also…stay humble, because in the end, your brand is just that…a brand. The real product is you.