Your digital image is everything these days. It’s vital to your professional growth.
Therefore, it’s important to take the time to curate and cultivate your personal brand so that it depicts who you are in the best possible light.
Learning from the pros is key.
The thing is, only a few experts can truly speak to how to develop and consistently improve your digital image. There are so many “experts” out there it’s hard to work out who the real pros are.
That’s why we’ve done the work for you.
The following thoroughly-researched books provide actionable advice from the top pros on how to showcase your experience, skills, and achievements and boost your personal brand.
Table of Contents
- 1. Reinventing You: Define Your Brand, Imagine Your Future
- 2. LinkedIn for Personal Branding: The Ultimate Guide
- 3. Branding Pays: The Five-Step System to Reinvent Your Personal Brand
- 4. You Are The Brand: The 8-Step Blueprint to Showcase Your Unique Expertise and Build a Highly Profitable
- 5. From Individual to Empire: A Guide to Building an Authentic and Powerful Brand
- 6. Building a StoryBrand: Clarify Your Message So Customers Will Listen
- To Wrap Up
by Dorie Clark
Dorie Clark’s “Reinventing You” is about aligning yourself with what you’re seeking professionally.
And Clark has a lot of accolades and achievements under her belt:
- Named one of the Top 50 business thinkers in the world by Thinkers50
- Recognized as the #1 Communication Coach in the world by Marshall Goldsmith Leading Global Coaches Awards
- Teaches executive education at Duke University’s Fuqua School of Business and Columbia Business School
- Authored four books on career growth
- Frequently contributes to Harvard Business Review
- Gives consultations to Google, Microsoft, and the World Bank
Her book, “Reinventing You: Define Your Brand, Imagine Your Future,” is written in a conversational tone and delivers actionable insights in a friendly manner.
In Clark’s words:
“Professional reinvention is almost never a onetime, fix-it-and-you’re-done job. Instead, it’s a way of life and a way of seeing the world — full of opportunity, open to new possibilities, and awaiting your contribution.”
Her tips include:
- Building your portfolio (writing posts, blogs, or articles)
- Dressing the part (get into the habit of wearing whatever fits the image you want to give)
- Making as many organic connections as possible, as they speak volumes
- Doing strategic moonlighting
- Building your reputation online and in real life
- Finding mentors
Clark intertwines engaging personal stories with interviews and examples from Al Gore, Tim Ferriss, Seth Godin, and others.
If you want to think big about your professional goals and for others to recognize the special contribution you can make, this is the book to read!
Great feature: Appendix A: Your Professional Reinvention Self-Assessment
In her own words, this book is for those…
“who want something different and better in their professional lives — and know there has to be a more strategic way to do it.”
A great place to get started or expand your network is on LinkedIn. That’s where professionals take branding next level.
by Sandra Long
LinkedIn has a lot of great features that you may not be aware of. Features that can greatly increase your chances of getting noticed.
The LinkedIn algorithm rewards those who have a completed profile. If you use all the profile features, you are much more “searchable.”
A decent LinkedIn profile is on a par with a well-composed cover letter.
So — LinkedIn for Personal Branding: The Ultimate Guide gives you all the information on how to use all the bells and whistles LinkedIn has to offer. And author Sandra Long knows how to deliver it.
Long says her personal mantra is: “Be the friend first!”
You’ll get the sense of her personable nature in this book. With 30 years of B2B sales and leadership background, Long is a seasoned LinkedIn and TEDx Speaker.
This #1 bestseller on Amazon provides:
- Dozens of case studies from LinkedIn users
- A supplemental Reader Resource website with additional actionable advice, plus downloadable documents
- Prompts to help you write the best possible personalized LinkedIn profile story
- Strategies on how to build your brand on LinkedIn
- 5 unique approaches for your “work experience” section
- Advice for job seekers, executives, employees, salespeople, freelancers, and people with a portfolio career
- How to build social connections with endorsements
Great features: Online appendix that breaks down each chapter and offers action steps, and a companion Reader Resource website.
To learn about how branding pays off, scroll to the next best branding book.
by Karen Kang
If you like information presented in a step-by-step style, then this book is for you.
The following are the chapter titles. As you can see, the five steps are dedicated chapters:
- Take Charge of Your Personal Brand
- Step 1: Positioning
- Step 2: Messaging
- Step 3: Brand Strategy
- Step 4: Ecosystem
- Step 5: Action Plan
- 360-Degree Branding: Vision, Symbols, Words, and Deeds
- Portable Branding and Social Media: Getting Started
Author Karen Kang is a globally recognized brand strategist. She’s the CEO and founder of BrandingPays LLC, a corporate and personal branding company. Also notable: She was a principal and partner with Regis McKenna Inc., the renowned marketing firm that launched the Apple brand.
Speaking of Regis McKenna, he has this recommendation for Kang’s expertise,
“Karen is the master of personal branding.”
Kang lays out each step thoroughly and makes the reader feel that great personal branding is attainable.
In Kang’s words:
“Personal branding is not rocket science. Creating the image that defines your unique value is something anyone can master. It’s not just the purview of branding gurus and social media mavens.”
Great feature: The end of each chapter has an “Action List.”
In case you would like more than “5 steps,” the following book has three more for you.
4. You Are The Brand: The 8-Step Blueprint to Showcase Your Unique Expertise and Build a Highly Profitable
by Mike Kim
“Here’s a simple question that can serve as a litmus test for you: “Can I build a campfire around what I’m sharing? By this, I mean, is there warmth? Are you building something that is attractive and inviting to others? Can you build a community around it? Are you someone whom others want to invite onto their stages, in front of their employees, or into their lives?”
Pretty nice, metaphorical way author Mike Kim frames the “do I have something of value to offer in my branding?” isn’t it? This personal connection theme is part of his own personal branding—and it comes across as authentic.
From his website, Kim says that one of his core philosophies is: “Marketing isn’t about closing a sale, it’s about opening a relationship.”
And that is a core message in his book as well. You need to build strong relationships to get you where you want to be. That’s the takeaway from the chapter titled, “Partners: Relationships Are Rocket Ships.”
The book, just published in July 2021, has loads of relevant stories that bring his sage advice to life. The content is applicable to any business model. Just be warned: Kim doesn’t shy away from telling readers what they may need to adjust in their approach in order to meet their goals. This doesn’t mean changing who you are and your values. Kim stresses staying authentic while growing your relationships.
Kim’s an online educator, copywriter, and consultant to top thought leaders and personal brands. He’s been published in leading outlets such as Entrepreneur, Inc., and HuffPost.
Not only that — If you read the book and listen to the podcast, you’ll be well-equipped to create a top-notch personal brand.
Great feature: Kim’s “The Brand You Podcast.” Listen to this podcast, which is ranked #1 in iTunes for personal branding.
If you want to get to “influencer” status or simply pump your personal brand with steroids, it’s best to read the next book.
by Laura Bull
Laura Bull is a motivating bestselling author and brand strategist who specializes in metamorphosing people into competitive and long-lasting business brands. In her book, “From Individual to Empire,” Bull focuses on how major influencers got to their level of notoriety and how to take their examples and apply them to your own branding strategy.
Bull has worked for decades with global branding superstars. Her unique style is the way she combines tried-and-true branding methods with psychology to help entrepreneurs show their authentic style in order to connect in a genuine way with audiences.
“The person is a product themselves—regardless of what they’re selling.”
A quote from Bull, who was one of the youngest executives in the history of Sony Music Entertainment.
Her book consists of four parts:
- Part 1: The Influencer
- Part 2: The Brand Matrix
- Part 3: Boosting the Brand
- Part 4: Resources
Each part includes a few chapters chock-full of examples from famous brands and expert, actionable advice.
Great feature: Free all-access to downloads (password in the book).
A quote from the book:
“Influencers don’t achieve their success by accident—ever. For a rare few, the knowledge might be intuitive, but each one understands the concept of branding, even as it applies to themselves. What makes influencer branding unique from traditional branding is that the core product is a real person, not an inanimate object.”
She emphasizes the importance of the combination of product and narrative. And explains that if one is great but the other “meh,” you’ll only have short-term success.
Bull’s description of a strong narrative is one that:
- Tells the consumer why the product is beneficial
- Explains how it stands out from the others
- Incites an emotional response
- Causes a positive action
Speaking of narrative, if you want to hone yours, the next book will give you all the tools needed to create a powerful message that will add value to your personal brand.
by Miller Donald
This book, by New York Times bestselling author Donald Miller will give you the tools to build a “StoryBrand.” Miller does this by teaching you how to get people to listen by using seven universal story points all humans respond to.
Miller will help you:
- Write engaging copy for your brand
- See things from customers’ and potential customers’ viewpoints
- Understand your competitor’s marketing strategies
- Create a website or blog to attract customers
Miller applies the “7 elements of great storytelling to grow your business.” He places emphasis on clarifying your message.
In case you’re not familiar, every classic story (think the “Iliad” or “Star Wars”) follows a formula called the “hero’s journey.” This is what Miller uses in his book as a framework for businesses.
Here is the formula:
- A character (your customer) has a problem
- They meet your guide (your business)
- You give them a plan (your solution)
- You create a call to action (and they start purchasing)
- You have success (revenue coming in)
- The character/customer avoids failure (which would otherwise have happened if they hadn’t followed your solution)
- The character/customer shares his success story (and you get organic praise)
The story you create is paramount to your success.
Here’s an excerpt from the book, in Miller’s words:
“Whether we run a small company or a multi-billion-dollar brand, confusing our customers is costing us money. How many of our team members can’t explain how we help our customers survive and thrive? How many people are buying from our competition because they’ve communicated more clearly than we have? How long will we last if we keep talking about aspects of our products our customers don’t care about?”
He drives home the message that we have to be 100% on-point with what is of value for customers and target the correct, most impactful message in order to draw them in.
And Donald Miller certainly knows his stuff.
The CEO of Business Made Simple and founder of “The Mentoring Project.” Miller teaches business professionals what they need to build a business and boost personal value on the open market.
Great feature: Miller’s “Business Made Simple” podcast. Listen to episodes to glean insights from top experts on growing your personal brand and business. A great supplement to the “Building a StoryBrand” book.
To Wrap Up
Personal branding is critical in today’s day and age. The above books by personal branding experts will change the way you think about your “brand” and your future.
Not only that—they’ll inspire you to put yourself out there and craft the image that aligns with your authentic self. A brand that is genuine will attract a loyal audience.
Global markets and social media have made the professional sphere more connected, but much more competitive. Focusing on your personal brand means you will have the total package that can take you to the next level in your career.
The books selected lay out all the steps needed for strategic personal branding. Follow them, and you’ll have a better chance at attracting the employers you want to notice you.
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