As a marketer, your job’s main focus is to build a strong, consistent, and recognizable brand for your company. You manage your brand’s reputation on social media, on your blog, in publications, and on your website working to create consistency and trust. But, when it comes to your own personal brand, these practices can seem more difficult to establish and develop. Personal branding is much more than thinking, I’ll just make a website for myself. Think about personal branding how you want others to talk about you – at work, after an interview, or after meeting at a conference. It’s a mix of your job title, how you do that job, and even more importantly, why you do.
We’re all working on our personal brands whether we know it or not. From every career decision to the way we present ourselves in workplace situations we’re developing our personal brand to our network. The more challenging part is understanding how to express this brand to the public. Let’s unwrap different ways to build your personal brand and tools to help you along the way.
Tip 1: Find out how you’re currently viewed by other professionals
There is typically a disconnect between the way we view ourselves and the way others do. We tend to over and underestimate ourselves for certain skills and traits. While starting to develop your personal brand, first get some insight into the kind of person you’re projecting to the world. If you’re trying to understand exactly what you’re niche is and what you excel at speak with past and present colleagues, classmates, and find out what they found different about you. The more you prompt others to describe you, you’ll learn more about how much more they see in you, than you ever could.
Tool 1: SurveyMonkey
SurveyMonkey is a user-friendly platform that makes it easy to survey others online. This tool is perfect for understanding how your current audience views you and then applying their feedback to adapt and grow your personal brand.
Tip 2: Pick a specific focus area that you want to become known for and build a message around it
Once you learn what you excel at from both your point of view and others, you’re able to nurture it. If I mention the names Tom Brady, Karl Lagerfeld, and Tom Cruise, I’m sure your mind becomes flooded with their image and what they are known for. The recognition and emotion that you drew from hearing the names of celebrities can also apply to you and your personal brand. And, no, I don’t mean, go audition for Mission Impossible 7 😉.
By taking the time to build your personal brand, you have the potential to be a thought leader in your space. To become a thought leader, you first must find your niche. In the marketing world, one of the strongest influencers is Neil Patel. He is an advocate for understanding the intersection between the questions people are searching for and what you excel at – and building a personal brand from there. He stresses that there is no point in focusing on a specific topic or industry that no one is interested in.
Tool 2: Zest
Once you know what topics you’re going to focus on, it’s about getting the word out. If you’re a marketer, one of the best places to build your brand is called Zest. This is a community created by marketers, for marketers. Its goal is to provide marketers with relevant content that is both helpful and shareworthy. The best part about the platform is you’re able to get your content in front of your target audience. This is great both if you’re starting out as a thought leader or a seasoned veteran. Learn more about Zest here and how you can get started.
Tip 3: Always engage in conversations on social media and express opinions
In 2019, it’s estimated that almost 3 billion people are on social media. To expand your personal brand, continuing these best practices to social media is not just a recommendation, but a necessity. There are a few reasons for this, first, social media is typically the place people go to learn about people. If someone is looking to learn more about you, the easiest way to do this and learn more about your personality is by following you. Another reason for keeping an updated profile is because Google ranks social media sites extremely well because of its high traffic. So, even if someone searches your full name on Google, they will most likely stumble upon your social media accounts before finding your personal website.
It can feel like a full-time job maintaining social media accounts and creating consistency. It’s important to interact with your followers because this is the closest thing to getting to know them. The key to this is to remain consistent in how you speak, share, and interact with your followers through your personal website and your social media accounts.
Tool 3: Rebrandly
This tool is so beneficial for building a personal brand because you’re able to showcase your brand on every link that you share. It helps build brand recognition and trust while offering an advanced tracking system that can help you better understand what types of content your audience engages with most. Rebrandly is the leader in link branding. Rather than just shortening links, with Rebrandly you can showcase your company’s brand name and where the link leads. For example, YourBrand.news/updates. Using a link management platform makes it easy to create, track, and manage short URLs with a custom domain name.
Tip 3: Even though personal branding is about you, put your audience first
It sounds contradictory, but to build your own personal brand, you need to be seen, heard, and followed by others. Just as Neil Patel suggested, the important first step is to find the sweet spot between your passions and what people are searching for. A great example of someone who has done this well his entire life is Gary Vaynerchuk. Although he didn’t set out to create a personal brand, he developed one as he found openings in the market.
Gary turned his parent’s liquor store into one of the first online platforms for alcohol sales. This change grew the business from 3-60MM in sales. With his success, Gary understood his market and realized there was space to grow and disrupt. He developed a multi-million dollar agency known as VaynerMedia – which works with clients like PepsiCo, GE, Chase, and more. The differentiating factor that grew Gary to stardom was understanding his audience, and producing content tailored to them. To grow his brand at the start of his career, he produced a YouTube video almost every day for 5 years because he knew that was where his audience was, and the type of content they were searching for.
Tool 3: SEMrush
This is a great tool if you’re just starting out creating your personal brand, or if your working on optimizing your personal website. SEMrush is an all in one platform that shares information on organic traffic, all the keywords you’re ranking for, and top referring domains- just to name a few. The program inspects your site so you can become aware of what and where to improve. If you don’t yet have a website, in SEMrush you’re able to find the same data on your competitors or even those who you aspire to emulate.
Tip 4: Monitor and manage mentions of your name online
Once you’ve developed a personal brand, the next step is to make sure that you’re keeping up with its changes online. By monitoring your brand, you’re able to find out first, what other people are saying about you, and second, able to make improvements based on what they are saying.
Again, your personal brand is only as strong as how others perceive and trust you. Your personal brand starts with your name. What happens when someone searches for you? Is it a bunch of pictures from college, or is there thought leadership articles written for reputable sites? It’s just like brand management for your company, but only this time, it’s for yourself. Keep an eye out for how you’re viewed on Google and work to improve it.
Tool 4: Mention
I’ve used this tool on behalf of dozens of companies, as well as for my own personal brand. Even in this tools free version, Mention tracks any query (competitors, campaigns, particular products) or simply your brand name and its activity online. It benchmarks your progress and notifies you when there is a positive or negative change. It’s much more advanced than Google Alerts, and you can also use it to monitor your competitor or a mentor.
Personal branding is necessary for the digital age. Although there are many routes you can take to grow yours, it all starts from finding your space in the market and understanding your customers. Build a strong foundation, take inspiration from the pros, and develop a strong brand reputation, and eventually, you’ll be on your way to having a recognizable personal brand. Have you used any of these tools before? Comment below if you have any other suggestions to add to the list!