Defining You: A 3 Step Process in Personal Branding

Personal Branding Word CloudContinuing the “where do we start?” aspect of Personal Branding began with “20 Steps to Create, Expand and Leverage Your Personal Brand”, let’s take a look at the best possible ways to define you – and your personal brand.

Through this three step process, you’ll be able to define – and, most important, articulate – your personal brand in a flexible, conversational way – and not force you to memorize some sterile elevator pitch that may or may not interest your audience. Let’s get started!

Step 1: Pick Four Words That Describe You

In just one moment, these four words should tell you (and a potential new relationship, mentor or employer) exactly what you are all about. Choose carefully! Cliché words like “dependable” and “detail-oriented” will simply get you thrown into the “no thank you” pile with many others.

Here are examples of four words that will do a great job of sparking future interest in you:

  • For a more experienced workforce professional: “Passion. Performance. Innovation. Mentor.”
  • For an entry-level candidate: “Coachable. Learner. Hustle. Entrepreneurial.”

Step 2: Create One Sentence that Describes You

Next, using no more than 8 to 12 words, generate a single sentence that clearly demonstrates who you are from a professional point of view. No generic “mother of two” or “college student” filler – this sentence must sell your unique ability to contribute in the workforce.


  • Workforce veteran: “A passionate mentor and innovative contributor with a bulldog work ethic.”
  • Emerging talent: “An entrepreneurial spirit with a coachable mindset, ready to contribute now.”

Please note that neither of these examples includes “what” that person does professionally (CPA, engineer, etc.). Your resume and application will do that for you. Here, you want to show who you are – and how you’ll fit in with the company’s culture!

Write – and Practice – Your 60-second Elevator Pitch

There is no better expert on the elevator pitch than Chris Westfall – National Champion and Grand Prize Winner for elevator pitches. The key, Chris says: “Much better than focusing on what you are, and what you do”… better make it about your listener, if you want to be heard.”

And here, Chris says, is the differentiator: rather than memorize some string of unchanging words that causes the listener to look at his watch while you deliver your well-rehearsed monologue… engage your audience with a topical conversation that happens to include your elevator pitch. This is a theory I subscribe to, heartily.

As described in this blog post, the pitch may start with “You know when…” or “Doesn’t it seem like…” – or any other phrase that will enable you continue the current relationship-building conversation rather than a stalling, two-minute commercial of you. If your audience research (or perhaps your analysis of a job description) is focused on academics – include your GPA and academic achievements in your pitch. If leadership is important, make sure to include your work with student-lead organizations, government or business fraternities. If the audience is a start-up entrepreneur, focus on your entrepreneurial spirit, examples of your ability to innovate and your work ethic.

Using the four words from Step 1 and the one clear sentence you’ve already established in Step 2, you will tailor your pitch to the influencer standing in front of you – and the conversation at hand. In the process, you’ll project yourself as highly confident, charismatic and capable.

Try this three-step approach when creating, or reinventing, a far more conversational – and articulate – personal brand.

Guest Expert:

Mark Babbitt, a passionate supporter of Gen Y talent and CEO and Founder of YouTern, is a serial entrepreneur and mentor. Mark has been quoted in the Wall Street Journal, Mashable, Forbes and Under30CEO regarding internships, higher education’s role in preparing emerging talent for the workforce and career development. Recently, Mark was honored to be named to GenJuice’s list of “Top 100 Most Desirable Mentors”. You can contact Mark via email or on Twitter: @YouTernMark.

We are grateful to all of the industry career experts for the top advice and experience they share with our MBA professionals. MBA Highway wouldn't be where it is today without them and their contributions.

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