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June 03, 2016

As the Direct Marketing Association puts it, we live in the "era of the personal brand." Your individual brand could mean the difference between landing a role on your agency's next big account or getting passed over for a promotion. The increased focus on personal branding is a double-edged sword: It's more work for you, but it puts the power to shape your career into your hands. Here's a closer look at three targeted ways you can use a personal brand strategy to achieve your career goals—and get ahead of your competition.

Showcase Your Expertise
Agencies need creatives and account managers who understand the latest developments in today's frenetic digital marketing space. Can you offer insight in a client meeting about how in-app messaging could build a brand's connection to Gen Z, or bring the latest design trends to a brand refresh? Your brand strategy should help your managers, or prospective clients and brands, understand the scope of your expertise. Make sure you're doing the following things to establish and communicate your personal brand to your colleagues.

1. Create a short, targeted capabilities statement that answers these key questions:
-Who are you?
-What do you do?
-What makes you different?

2. Build a flexible, mobile-optimized portfolio that showcases your best work. Use concise commentary to tell the story of what you've accomplished.

3. Make sure you only post approved client projects to your portfolio. Adweek recently reported on a rising trend in creatives posting unapproved content, leading to serious consequences—including termination and lawsuits.

Never stop learning. Then take what you've learned and share industry-relevant insights on social media, in staff meetings, or through writing opportunities for industry publications or the company blog. Focus on the latest developments and show why they matter to clients to establish yourself as an expert, trusted voice.

Establish a Unique Point of View
Creatives and marketers need to demonstrate their creative chops and show that they can come up with fresh perspectives for client brands. A strong personal brand sets you apart from the hundreds of other artists, copywriters, technologists, or strategists in advertising. Dial up your unique point of view to stand out from the crowd. Here's some ways to figure out what you can bring to the table that no one else can.

-Explore the skills, experiences, and ways of viewing the world that make you unique. Incorporate this into your branding efforts. Did you minor in art in college? Put that skill to work to really make your presentations and campaigns stand out from the crowd.

-Find your voice. If everyone at your agency is talking about location-based technologies, what can you say that's different? For example, can you talk about a new technology application, or become the expert on location-based native ads?

-Experiment with multiple platforms. If everyone at your company is blogging, consider how you can create value with visual media on Instagram, for example.

Make It All Relevant to Your Agency and Clients
Think of your personal branding efforts like a campaign in which your audience is your agency leaders and prospective clients. How can you make your brand story—and platform—relevant to their needs? When you showcase your own skills and expertise, take it as an opportunity to also showcase that of your agency and clients.

-Pursue outside writing or publishing opportunities that showcase agency campaigns or client projects (with approval).
-Share your expertise by speaking at industry events—especially ones that prospective clients and brands might attend.

-Use the platform you've built to amplify your agency's work by sharing approved messaging. Just remember to comply with your agency's FTC guidelines, for example, by distinguishing client work with a #client.

Creating a personal brand differentiates you and shows your agency that you know what you can do. Brands want the best creative minds on their next project, and agencies with a reputation for top talent win contracts. Take the initiative to help position your agency—and yourself—for big business and career wins by being clear on your skills, developing a voice in your industry, and using your platform to strategically promote your best work.

≥≥ Need a Shortcut?
1. Use a portfolio, publishing, and social media accounts to showcase your expertise. Publish original material and share industry content with thoughtful commentary.
2. Figure out what differentiates you, and make that quality the focal point of your positioning, platform choices, and messaging.
3. Find ways to leverage your personal brand into opportunities, exposure, and value for your employer or clients.
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