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This was a questioned posed to me by a participant in one of my entrepreneurship training classes. My quick response would have been "Yes, with a plan it is possible. The larger companies do it all the time." But this particular training class was made up of participants who were formerly incarcerated and were reentering society after being in a correctional facility from 2 to 10 years. So not only were they being reintroduced to society and the many changes from their families, the community and technology but the constant barriers they faced in achieving their primary goal of seeking employment. This brings us to the reason why they were sitting in my training class; entrepreneurship may be their only option. They were being reintroduced and needed to be rebranded.
So the idea of branding for them was two-fold- Rebranding themselves personally and branding themselves professionally. Again, they would face some challenges but it could be done. My question to them was "Who were you before?" Think about who you were before the traumatic experience put you in prison. Think about who you were before you went down the wrong road. Dig deep into your imagination and visualize what you stood for. Look at yourself, your background, your philosophy of life and your lifestyle. What are your strengths and expertise? These are your personal attributes which begin the rebranding process.
Personal Branding is building credibility and knowing your strengths and values. Professional Branding is building a relationship and an experience. Many companies have rebounded and
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rebranded after a crisis; the most famously known Cola Company, Tylenol and Martha Stewart. One thing they all knew was that they had a great product. During their crisis, they had to rebuild their credibility. They had to dig deep into who they were (values) and what they were (relationship) to their customer.
My advice to the participants in the class on rebranding themselves after they did some soul searching was to-
1. Re-introduce yourself as the person you were before the tarnished image arose. Let your family, friends, former employers see the positive characteristics that you displayed previously.
2. Motivate others. Sell yourself so much that others are motivated to sell you.
3. Have your elevator speech prepared. That's the pitch that sells you.
4. Begin gathering letters of recommendations or have others give testimonials about your expertise.
As you begin to build your personal brand, your professional brand will be easier to unleash. You are confident on who you are and what you can offer and then begin to develop the relationship and experience with others.
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