Growing into Greatness: Defining the domain for your Personal Brand.

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Growing into Greatness
Defining the domain for your Personal Brand.

Your Personal Brand isn’t designed for an “audience.” It’s designed for a domain, or sphere of influence – a group of people, organizations or companies with a common connection or focus.

The Domain Difference
An audience is everyone who is aware of your Personal Brand. A domain represents the people you want to reach with your Personal Brand – people who would have direct interest in your skills and services. Marketing your Personal Brand to a domain helps you capture greater market share, spend Personal Marketing dollars more efficiently, and make more money servicing fewer clients.

A Personal Brand should be crafted for maximum achievement in one domain. That domain can be as large or small as you wish. Your domain could be your real estate office or your engineering group; it could be an entire industry, or the world. Your domain can actually expand (or contract) based on the strength and perceived value of your Personal Brand.

The great thing is, your Personal Brand has a ripple effect within your domain. Your accomplishment (and personality) ripple outward from your immediate contacts into the domain at large – a prime example of how a Personal Brand brings you unanticipated opportunity, esteem and recognition, just by brand magnetism.

Who Is Your Domain?
You know you have defined your domain when you can say “yes” to each one of these seven questions:

  • Are my services of interest to this domain?
  • Am I comfortable working with these types of people and organizations?
  • Can I communicate with these people and organizations easily?
  • Historically, have people and organizations in this domain supported professionals like myself in a way that would guarantee me a good income?
  • Are professionals/service providers of my ilk underserving this domain?
  • Is there potential for ongoing referral business?
  • Will I be able to service the clients I might acquire in this domain?

If you can’t say “yes” to all these questions, refine or expand your domain until you can. You should be able to define your domain in a simple statement, like this: “High-technology companies in the Ann Arbor area.”

Entering New Domains
Interestingly, success can lead you into new – and even unexpected – domains. A pastor may become a radio host. An insurance agent may become a lobbyist on eldercare issues. An actor may become a director. And so forth.

This can amount to career change. For that change to be positive, your Personal Brand must grow into the new domain.


Ask yourself, right now, if your Personal Brand has the potential to grow into other domains. If it doesn’t have that potential – if your Personal Brand is heavily weighted around one industry, and if your leading attribute is industry-specific – don’t overextend yourself. Be prepared to turn down opportunities that may put your Personal Brand in a foolish light, and devalue its worth.

A New Principle
Ever hear of the Peter Principle? It posits that every one of us “rises through the ranks” until reaching a point of incompetence – in other words, a job we can’t handle. The Peter Principle, which many people believe in, essentially says; that people succeed until they enter a new domain. Then, they fail.

Let me amend that with a new “Peter Principle”: you only fail in a new domain when you fail to evolve your Personal Brand. But if you can grow your Personal Brand into the new domain, you will succeed.

Failure: Comedian Dennis Miller arrived in a new domain – sportscasting – with a Personal Brand that promised wit and humor. But on Monday Night Football, Miller never grew into a sports authority. He didn’t have the credibility of an ex-jock, and comic relief was his leading attribute – in a game that fans take very seriously. In the end, viewers wanted to see football, not Dennis Miller’s act. Miller took a tantalizing opportunity and colossally mispositioned his Personal Brand.

Happy_Business_manSuccess: Linus Torvald, the creator of Linux, never intended to be a hero to millions of geeks – nor did he have big dreams of becoming a Silicon Valley guru. He started out as a hacker in a small Helsinki apartment, did a short spell in the Finnish army, and spent seven years in college before coming to California. A self-deprecating guy with a unique, pleasant wit and a brilliant mind, Linus adapted himself to the swift pace of Silicon Valley while issuing geek manifestos regarding the meaning of life and the equality of Open Source.

He rode his brilliant talent to great wealth in VA Linux Systems and Red Hat, yet he still does not work for any specific Linux company. Through it all, he’s remained a hero to hackers, and a “regular Joe” with a wife, a mortgage and a family. Part of Linux’s unique appeal has been Linus’ appeal: he’s still the same guy. The attributes of his Personal Brand were just as intriguing in the boardroom as in the garage. His Personal Brand evolved and grew beautifully in the face of change.

It’s Not Hard
Selecting the right domain can be a simple matter of asking yourself: “In what arena do I want to achieve my goals?” Position your Personal Brand in an arena in which you have contacts, experience, resources and skills, and you’ve made the right choice.

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Mark Montoya has been working in personal branding for more than a decade for hundreds of online and offline companies, small businesses and individual service professionals. His focus has been toward improving the way jobseekers find employment on the Internet. He has synthesized his expertise by helping job seekers obtain their ideal choice of employment over the Internet on his sites and, and through his books 101 Tips Every Job Seeker Should Know and The Ultimate Online Job Search eBook.

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“It is the responsibility of the individual to reject the prospect of mediocrity and to strive for the betterment of society as a whole” ~ Mark Montoya

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