by Robert Wood, Social Media Advisor – Prison Scholar Fund

Brand building of any type takes definitive strategy. I’ve earned various scholarships and have acquired funding from friends and family to educate myself while incarcerated. I have changed my worldview and my personal brand and as a result of learning and applying the things I learn on an ongoing basis I look forward to a successful life upon my reentry into society. Because of my personal brand I have several standing job offers. Building your personal brand is especially important for individuals who have great aspirations and bold dreams. Whether your aspirations are personal, professional, or social, your brand as a person will affect your ability to materialize them. A great strategy for personal brand building begins with guiding documents created and honed by you and includes education, application, and dedication. The purpose of guiding documents is to keep you on track in your quest to create a brand you can be proud of, so we’ll start there.

As far as guiding document go you should have at the bare minimum: a mission statement, which will state your overall mission as a person. For instance to be generous, responsible, stay active and physically fit and to embrace your spirituality as you become a successful business person and socially responsible member of society. Your vision statement will describe your vision of yourself as a successful person in the future and give you a written definitive vision of your future to work towards. Your code of ethics, when adhered to closely, will guide your actions and make sure you move towards the attainment of your goals in an ethical, responsible, and committed manner. Your personal motto will be a statement that you can recite to yourself each day or several times a day to remind yourself to stay on track towards your goals and keep your personal brand in tact by strictly adhering to it. My motto is as follows: Success is learned, earned, and returned. This motto drives my passionate pursuit of excellence in education; my work ethic in my duties at my current job and as I write screenplays, tweets, and blog stories; and my social volunteerism. It quickly embodies my goals and yours should do the same thing for you. With all of your guiding documents in order it’s time mold yourself and personal brand through education.

Education is an important and integral aspect of any personal brand building effort. A very big part of who you are is what you know and can bring to the table. Your education should be strategically crafted in a manner that gives you the knowledge and experience you need to reach your goals and be successful enough to brand you as very qualified for the endeavors you choose to pursue. This will brand you as a go to person for classmates, peers, family members, and various other people. Volunteer work in your chosen field will brand you as socially responsible and give you great experience and insight as well as being personally rewarding. This is one way to apply your skills but you must apply them at every viable opportunity to hone them. That’s where application comes in.

Application of the skills you acquire through education and personal experience will do a whole lot to increase your personal brand and help you reach your goals. A good example of that is using the terminology you learn in business school or in the social sciences frequently. Whatever your endeavor is you should attend trade shows, volunteer, network on social media and go all out to build your personal brand through applying your knowledge and passing it on. Teaching any subject will give you a tremendous understanding of that material as you prepare lesson plans and lectures. You can even tutor as a volunteer and hone your skills as you help other people, thus making win-win a part of your personal brand. By becoming dedicated to building your personal brand and thus, building yourself as a person you will be creating the best you possible for you. Dedication matters.

Dedication matters in every phase of your personal brand building effort. Your guiding statements are only as strong as your dedication to them and your brand is predicated on your continuous actions. Dedication in all that you do and closely following your brand building strategy once you’ve crafted it will assure you your efforts at brand building are fruitful. Please realize that just like any other product, as times and situations change you can change or adapt your brand but there should be very good reasoning to do so. All guiding statements must be in writing and be followed closely. Just the exercise of writing them and being able to physically look at them will make a huge difference in the way you respond to them. Remember, build your brain, build your brand and give back. Success is learned, earned, and returned.

Robert Wood, our Social Media Advisor, is a volunteer for the PSF. His Tweets can be found on Twitter, @prisonscholars, account under the hashtag #RLW_PSF. He can be reached via any of our social media outlets or emailed at the following address: rlw@prisonscholars.org.

If you’d like to hear more from Robert, please sign up for our quarterly newsletter, where he is a valued contributor. Just submit your name and email address. If you’d like to get involved with the PSF in a volunteer capacity, please email us volunteer@prisonscholars.org.