Ashley Brauer, MBA is the founder and chief strategist at Max Strategic Communications

Imagine this: You walk into a room and people know who you are. Your bosses and/or clients understand your skills, accomplishments and capabilities. People want to know you and work with you. You attract new opportunities and advancement personally and professionally.

It’s no fantasy land. It’s the effects of crafting a distinct and authentic personal brand.

Often, when we hear the word, “branding,” our minds go to products or companies. We think about colors, overall look and style, tone of voice and placement–each aspect part of a carefully crafted and consistent narrative that resonates with the target audience.

Similarly, your personal brand is all about amplifying your unique value proposition to the world. When you take control of your personal narrative and highlight your expertise, passions, and aspirations strategically, your brand becomes a powerful force. It can propel you in your career and in life.

In today’s dynamic landscape, your personal brand is more important than ever. It helps you rise above the noise, become a thought leader and influencer in your field, and make meaningful connections that can change the world.

Building your brand starts with personal reflection. Consider the following:

What are your strengths and passions? What are you naturally good at? What excites you most? Consider taking personality or skills assessments, ask your trusted advisors, and reflect on your own experiences.

What values drive you? What principles guide your decisions. This is important to understand because it helps you make authentic choices and build a brand that aligns with your core beliefs.

Who is your target audience? Who do you want to reach? Consider what is your end goal and who will help you get there. Is it your direct boss? Want to raise your profile among company executives? Looking to lead within a nonprofit or board where you volunteer? Understanding who your audience is will help you craft a message and delivery style that will resonate and drive action.

Next, it’s time to craft your message.

Create a tagline. This is a clear and concise statement that sums up your unique value. It should be action-oriented and active voice. Remember, it’s unique to you, not reflective of the overall organization. While you might not outright say your tagline in conversation, it’s the core of what you want to convey to your audience. And, it could be on your LinkedIn header. Here are some examples:

o Supply chain manager:“Solving problems, saving dollars.”

o Nonprofit team member: “Building hope and community one family at a time.”

o Public relations account manager: “Sharing stories, igniting action.”

Messages matter. Consider what is the most important thing you want your audience to know. Pick one or two things and make them direct, clear and memorable. When you’re talking to your intended audience, find a way to work them into the conversation. You want them to say, “tell me more.” When the conversation is over, you want no doubt in your mind what nugget they’re walking away with.

Optimize your online presence. Social media can amplify or discredit your brand. Remember all your communications, even if you think they’re private, are part of your personal brand. Make sure your social media profiles, website,and other online presence,reflect your brand identity. Every post counts. Every word counts. Use high-quality visuals, consistent messaging,and relevant keywords.

Make your content memorable. Use your social media channels, blog, articles, videos,and podcast to establish yourself as a thought leader. By providing valuable content that resonates with your target audience, they’ll begin to look at you as an expert in your space.

Once you have the foundation, now it’s time to make your mark.

Cross-functional collaboration. Look for opportunities to work with other teams in your workplace or with other organizations in the community, to increase your visibility while expanding your network and knowledge.

Network strategically. Build meaningful relationships by attending industry and community events and organization meetings. Connect with other professionals online and in person.

Engage on relevant platforms. Leverage your social media to build deep relationships by making valuable comments, supporting others,and engaging through direct messages. Know where your audience is and invest your time in building on that platform.

Share your knowledge. Giving back can take many forms –including volunteering your skills at a nonprofit or teaching a workshop at a conference or community meeting. You’re expanding your network and positioning yourself as an expert in your field while doing good.

When you invest the time into building your authentic brand, you’ll see dividends. Your skills and expertise are impressive! Be patient and give yourself grace. Building a brand takes time and consistency pays off. That said, don’t be afraid to evolve as you learn and grow. You and your brand are dynamic and should adapt over time.

People will notice as you level up your communications skills and increase your self-confidence. You’ll attract powerful connections and opportunities that will open doors you may not have ever imagined possible. Take that first step and make 2024 your year of opportunity!

Ashley Brauer, MBA is the founder and chief strategist at Max Strategic Communications. Follow her on Linkedin for more tips on personal branding and communications strategy.