If you’re working for a company, you have probably invested significant time into helping improve the company’s brand. This may be through work you have done directly to change the perception of the brand if you’re working in a brand or marketing role, but also indirectly through working on a particular project that improves the customer experience. But what about your personal brand? When did you last set time aside to focus on yourself? Even if you don’t love the spotlight or being the centre of attention, the network and relationships you build on your own are often critical to your professional success.
Here’s why: Whether you’re on the job hunt, happily working for the company of your dreams, or a student searching for a first-time job, you must think, act, and plan like a business leader to prepare yourself for the future. With Twitter, LinkedIn and other social media channels playing such a prominent role in our lives, you now need to both manage and protect your reputation – both how people perceive you online and in everyday life.
“A brand is the set of expectations, memories, stories and relationships that, taken together, account for a consumer’s decision to choose one product or service over another.”
— Seth Godin
But how do you get started? Success is not built overnight, and neither is your personal brand.
1) IDENTIFY YOUR VISION AND VALUES
Your personal values play a very important role in your personal life, particularly when it comes to your job search and career decision making. They are the things that you believe are important in the way you live and work. They are the foundation of who you are as a person, how you behave in everyday life, and help to determine your priorities.
In difficult situations, your values will be put to the test as people can react differently when under pressure. Once you know what you stand for, it will be easier to shape your vision as a person and how you wish to portray yourself.
2) DON’T PRETEND TO BE SOMEONE YOU’RE NOT
It sounds simple. When building a personal brand, it can be tempting to assume the personality of someone you look up to and admire, but you should just be yourself, and not just a caricature of the person you want to be. Building a personal brand is about sharing your true personality to a wider pool of people, and building trust in yourself as a person by sharing meaningful advice and opinions on topical issues through a variety of ways. If you have a blog, this could be through writing regular blog posts and feature articles, or if you prefer social media, video content is a powerful way to create a more intimate connection between you and your target audience.
No matter what channel you choose, be authentic, focus on adding value to the lives of other people, and ensure the tone of your content matches the perception you want people to have of you.
Questions to Ask Yourself:
- How do I make people feel?
- How do people benefit by following what I have to say?
- What words do others use to describe me?
3) FIND THE CORRECT PLATFORM FOR YOU
One of the biggest mistakes most people make right out of the gate is they rush into building a website for themselves, or spend countless hours trying to identify how they are going to brand themselves. None of this really matters though – certainly not at the very beginning.
You need to start by simply owning your craft. Provide value to other people by sharing something of value. If you’re a digital marketer, this may be through sharing tips and tactics that help people do SEO, PPC or another marketing discipline better. Are you a chef? You may find that making videos on how to create a particular dish to share through YouTube, Instagram or Facebook is a perfect fit for your audience.
Don’t copy what others are doing. Find the correct platform that you feel comfortable using, identify the people you want to reach through it and share useful content that will hopefully resonate with them. Simple.
4) TAP INTO OTHER STRONG BRANDS
One of the quickest and most effective ways to improve the reach of your personal brand is by finding and leveraging strong brands that are relevant to you. Through this, you will get yourself in front of people who may not be aware of you, but will now be more open to checking out your content due to the trust they have in the brand you’re leveraging.
For example, if you’re a fitness instructor who wants to build a personal brand to secure more clients, it may make sense to build relationships with those who have already been successful. Reach out to them about a writing content for their blog, recording a video series together, or offering their audience the opportunity to win a prize in a competition.
5) JOIN COMMUNITIES
Do you know what your digital footprint is? It’s the actions you take online – from leaving comments, tweeting pictures, liking posts, story updates on Instagram and much more. Ask yourself: Am I leaving my footprints in the right places that can effectively help me garner interest in both my business and me as a person? If the answer is “no”, you may not be hanging out in the types of places where your target audience lives. Building a personal brand is no easy task. It will be much harder for you if you’re not networking in the right circles.
6) OPTIMISE YOUR SOCIAL PROFILES
When was the last time you reviewed the profiles of your social accounts?
Your bio is where you communicate who you are, where you work, what you’ve done and what’s important to you. It’s also a great place to include links to your website, blog, book, podcast or landing page. You need to ensure that it ties back into your vision and values though as it has the chance of turning curious clicks on your profile into further exposure for your brand.
Your bio will be different for different profiles, but generally, you will have:
- Your real name (avoid nicknames)
- Companies or other social accounts associated with you (e.g. business account)
- A professional headshot photo
- A tone of language that reflects your personality
- A suitable link or call to action
- Keywords that are relevant to you (e.g. “fitness instructor”)
These are just some tips to get you started. Building a personal brand can take months and years of hard work, but if you’re passionate about sharing knowledge, helping others, and meeting other people, you will achieve it.