In your job search, Mark True says to remember your mom’s advice: Be yourself. In order to be yourself during a job search, True says it is important to brand yourself. He wants job seekers to fill in the blank:
“I’m the only_______________.”
Mark True "Brand Warrior" talking to job seekers in Des Moines
As the “Brand Warrior”, Mark True helps organizations develop their story, a story that tells the rest of the world who they are and why they matter. At a recent talk at an Unemployed in Des Moines Networking event, True applied his expertise to help job seekers understand the importance of personal branding when navigating the job market.
“Your brand is a declaration. It tells others what you believe and why they should put their faith in you,” said True.
At the beginning of the session, each attendee gave a 30 second elevator speech. True pointed out that only two people in the audience gave an elevator speech that explained who they are professionally as opposed to their current situation. “Being unemployed is not who you are,” True said. He stressed the importance of an elevator speech because it is a quick and simple way you can tell people who you are and why you matter.
True’s model of branding is simple and straightforward. He didn’t hesitate to the tell the audience what they needed to hear. “I am after all the Brand Warrior,” he said. “Not your Brand Buddy.”
Brand Yourself in O.N.E. Way
True uses his model of brand management (O.N.E. Way) to illustrate how job seekers can maximize and develop a personal brand.
O is for Only – “It is easy to play it safe. You’ve got to be on the edges instead of the mushy middle of mediocrity,” says True. This means you will have to decide what your true strengths are to building your brand. “Plant your flag, present an image that tells others ‘This is who I am, love it or leave it.”
N is for Narrative – True says that you should be able to tell your story to a potential employer in 30 seconds. Be able to tell them how your skills and experience can help them as a company. He encouraged attendees to help their fellow job seekers be accountable for their 30 second elevator speech.
E is for Everyone – Tell everyone about your job search, starting with your closest network. True admits that networking events are daunting, but attending them increases the likelihood of opportunities and it gets easier being in a room full of strangers. “Be comfortable being uncomfortable,” he says. “Then you will be comfortable being comfortable.”
Brand is Emotional and Happens All the Time
Being mindful and purposeful about your personal brand is essential. For example, the way you shake someone’s hand or if your fly was open during a particular meeting tells people a lot about you. “The secret is to how to take charge of your brand all the time, and be purposeful about the ways you tell your story,” he said. Having a good attitude, being enthusiastic will go long way in maintaining your brand.
Brands are Offensive
Personal branding doesn’t mean that everyone will love you, but True said it is important to be comfortable with this concept, which also means being comfortable in your own skin. For example, people either love or hate Rush Limbaugh. Though the conservative political pundit may be hated by many, Limbaugh still stays true to his brand and has a significant fan base.
Be Purposeful – Even Online
True emphasized the many benefits of social media, but also cautioned against its misuse. “Be present on social media sites, but be purposeful,” he said. “You don’t have to own a blog or a website to be active online.”
True offered some advice on how to understand your current online presence:
• Look at your last ten Facebook posts – What do these posts say about you?
• Google your name and see the first ten entries and see what comes up.
• Set up a Google Alert on yourself.
• Make sure that the social media platforms you use tell your story, which is a way to make your brand consistent.
Being Engaged and Purposeful Offline
True offered several ways to continually market your brand in the flesh:
• Chamber of Commerce meetings – West Des Moines, Urbandale, Altoona.
• Volunteer for an organization using your professional skills
• Remember to give and take – Help others if they are willing to help you on your job search
• Alumni meetings at your alma maters – you never know who you will meet.
“Brand Warrior” Mark True has worked in corporate, non-profit and agency environments, leading teams and clients with a strategic vision and a passion for digging deep to find the heart and soul of the brand. Please learn more about him at his website, Brand Happens.com