In today’s millisecond digital economy, we must make our personal and professional brand a top priority as much as our business brand.

Personal branding affects the most important first impression; and you’ve only got 30 seconds to make the grade. If your clothing, hairstyle and grooming isn’t helping you, then it could be hurting you. Clothing choices actually influence 95% of your first impression. So make it count with excellent grooming, stylish clothing and current accessories. For example, if your industry is hi-tech, make your eyewear and clothing reflect up to date fashion trends.

Similarly, professional branding is how we show up to others in the workplace. Companies are realizing the same strategies that are used to brand products can be used to brand people. Ask yourself; does my professional reputation precede me prior to an introductory meeting? What is the street’s perception of my company? How do I contribute to my company brand?

And today sharing more real time data with social media like Linked-In and Twitter means you are communicating daily about your brand. Today, your ability to influence is built not only on your brand reputation but also on the size and breath of your network. And not having a presence or playing in the virtual sandbox is like being an ostrich with your head buried.

When using social media, ask yourself what value do you contribute as a leader to your company and /or clients? How do you serve others?

3 steps to amplify your personal and professional brand

Determine what you stand for, your core values, your unique value proposition. Ask yourself, what expertise do I want to be known for?
Next, create a personal branding digital press kit; build a blog, website, new business card, portfolio and social network profiles. Once you have these tools, network at events, write articles for websites, engage online with others.
Finally, make sure to keep your persona updated to represent today’s you. If you want to track what your online brand is communicating set up alerts to notify you via Google Alert. At this year’s SXSW, a new company combines psychometrics with Big Data and can determine a lot about you from what you and others post about you online. Check out your online brand at you’ll be surprised at just how much information is available.
Branding is prevalent everywhere, from the perfect political campaign to launching a new business. What is your personal and professional brand? What do you wish to convey? When you look into the mirror, who do you really you see staring back?