I am so very lucky. I have the opportunity to travel the country and speak about personal branding to a variety of people from various teams, groups and organizations. It’s a topic that I am passionate about and one that I can speak about based on my journey as well as others.

Invariably, one of the first questions asked during my presentations this past year was by someone looking for the “secret sauce” to enhancing their personal brand. What is that one thing that he/she can do to elevate their personal brand? The endless search for a key ingredient that will provide instant clarity, purpose and results is all that they need. I only wish it were that easy, as if a personal brand was a piece of software that could be downloaded, installed and run with just a few keystrokes. I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but there is no “secret sauce” when it comes to enhancing your personal brand. If your mission is to find the plug and play solution for a bulletproof personal brand, then I suggest you stop reading this post right now. It’s a grind and one that requires work, commitment, passion and courage to live on the edge sometimes. It often feels like you are standing in a strange room unable to find a light switch. It’s both scary and an exciting adventure all at the same time. I will serve as your cruise director for your maiden voyage in 2012 as you work on developing You Inc. across these choppy seas. Welcome to the Good Ship lollipop!

Now that I have stuck my finger in your Cheerios and have your attention, let us discuss what you can do in 2012.

  1. First, make sure you are extremely comfortable in your own skin and are able to articulate what you do, how and why. Take some time to really think about this one, especially the “why you” piece. Ideally, you should be able to describe your personal value proposition in a tweet (140 characters). Longer than that and most people are bored and will begin to tune you out.
  2. Second, people no longer have an interest in buying things, but do have an interest in joining things. Are you building a community that offers real value to people? You must bring others with you. If not, get a clue or do something else.
  3. Third, I learned this one from fellow speaker, Scott Stratten, who shared with me one of the reasons for his meteoric rise in the social media universe. “Awesome spreads” — whether it be blog posts, videos, workshops, tweets, website giveaways, etc. If you can create an authentic experience, people will stand up and notice. Sit on the sidelines and regurgitate the same rhetoric as everyone else and you too can bite down on a sandwich filled with heartache, frustration and mediocrity.

Developing an authentic personal brand is not easy but it is possible! Spend less time selling and more time creating memories in the minds of your followers, teammates and customers. Your mission is to be different, talk different, ask different questions and be more prepared than anyone else in your space to create VALUE.