The truth is, we’re all brands. Developing a personal brand differentiates you from your competition because it changes the way you’re perceived. Personal brands today are developed through many channels, some that you control like your social media and personal website, and some that are earned such as where your work was mentioned or shared. Building a personal brand takes time, so let’s cover some actionable personal branding tips.
Consider the wise words of Barry Feldman: “You, my friend are a brand”
A strong personal brand is a foundation for a successful career. In the age of the Internet, often people’s first contact with you will happen online. It’s essential to manage how you present yourself to the world. When evaluating your personal brand, start exactly where you go to learn more about any other brand, with a Google search. Before you can make any improvements to your brand, you must assess and understand where you currently stand.
First, open an incognito web browser so that there are no personal customizations affecting your Google search. Then search for:
- Your first and last name
- Variations of your name, including any common any misspellings
- If you’re not getting any results, add elements that are associated with you like your profession or your university
The results that you see will give you a fair idea of what your personal brand currently looks like. You will be able to see the websites that pop up and the kind of content that you’re sharing on those sites. If the search results aren’t doing justice to your real self, then it’s time to get working on building your personal brand.
Why is a personal brand important?
As a professional, it’s important to define the work you do, why you do it, and the impact of that work. Professionals who actively design their brand are able to successfully manage career progressions, learn and share with colleagues, and maximize opportunities that align with their purpose. Your identity is more than just your job title. It’s about how you present yourself online to potential employers, clients, customers, or anyone who can be a part of your career growth. For example, if you’re a designer, you can design your website in such a way that it communicates the kind of work you do through your logo, images, colors, fonts, etc.
This infographic by Feldman Creative and Placester highlights some benefits of developing a strong personal brand.
When you put in the time to develop a strong personal brand, you can reap waves of benefits throughout your career. There are five techniques you can focus on as you take the first step towards building a personal brand:
1. Build relationships with influencers
Leveraging the reach of influencers, journalists, and industry experts is one of the best ways to start to strengthen your personal brand. To get started, become an active member of professional communities in your industry. Make it a point to share your expertise and opinions on topics that are most relevant to your specialty.
Here’s how you can get started:
- Join social media groups on LinkedIn, Quora, or Facebook
- Get your opinion featured in industry relevant publications
- Make yourself available as an expert commentator among the journalists working in your industry
2. Prepare your elevator pitch
Imagine you’re alone in the elevator with the hiring manager or a potential client. It’s your chance to explain who you are, what you do, and your goals… but you only have 30 seconds. How often have you stumbled in an impromptu situation like this? Selling yourself on command can be difficult, especially when the proverbial clock is ticking. From your elevator pitch, potential employers and clients have the chance to learn about and decide on working with you.
For example, a good elevator speech for a website designer could be something along the lines of…
“I’m an analog and a digital artist. I use my tech and fine arts skills to design seamless website experiences by creating sitemaps, user flows, customer journey maps, and wireframes.”
The pitch focuses on the great range of skills and talents she has now and the work she’s interested in doing in the future. This is why it is beneficial to prepare and practice an elevator pitch, that details your professional story. Think about what your audience is interested, and ask why should they care about you’re talking about? Try to perceive what the listener is interested in, and briefly tell your story.
3. Be authentic
Common advice when building a personal brand is to be your best professional self. Which is true, but make sure you let your personality shine through.
Your objective is to connect with people, and that is more likely to happen when they can connect with you. Professional is good, but also be authentic.
If you want your audience to believe what you’re selling, believe in it wholeheartedly. Personal branding is about the way you convey yourself to others. Effective brands have a strong identity and understand their customer. Like brands, when you know and accept yourself, personal brand messaging will become more clear.
People often hide their personality traits and display strict professionalism when developing their personal brand. Gauge and understand your industry and every situation and decide if it would be best to show your professional side or show a bit more personality. Personal brands depend on the industry your working in, for example, a personal brand in accountancy would differ greatly from one in public relations.
Here’s how you can do this:
Pick one (or max two) specific emotions you want your audience to feel when they come across your content. For example, you could, for example, have a funny take on politics, or an analytical perspective on current events. The bottom line is, try to be the best version of you that you can be. Have fun and give people a reason to connect.
4. Create a unique online presence
This is about building the foundation for your online presence, starting with the way you share updates online.
Links are what connect us online. Although taken for granted, links should be used to help build your personal brand. With branded links, you can take control of your own personal brand’s awareness and recognition. For example, if you want to establish a personal brand as a technology influencer and gadget aficionado, you could share branded links like JohnCollins.Tech/iPhoneX-Review. Domain extensions such as .STORE, .FUN, .SPACE, .ONLINE, are not only great for branding but can also differentiate you in a crowded and competitive arena. Whenever your share anything online, whether it was your own content or something you liked from another source, your brand is on the link. This reinforces your personal brand and helps to create trust form your audience, which can increase click-through rates by up to 39%.
5. Learn from the experts
Last, but not least, one of the best ways to get good at something is to read more about it. Absorb the knowledge from those who have been there, done that. Here are some books to get started with:
Do you have to sell your ideas – be it to your boss or clients? If you are nodding your head yes, this book will help.
Her wise words are all we need when we’re close to a burnout or dealing with the associated–making significant changes to the way we work.
If you wish to achieve big wins, this book will give you strategies do that—and you don’t have to be a creative person for these ideas to help you.
- Refuse to Choose! Use All of Your Interests, Passions, and Hobbies to Create the Life and Career of Your Dreams by Barbara Sher
This book will help you find clarity. If you’re someone with a million interests and a scattered personal brand, reading this will help.
There you have it! Building a personal brand is a continuous process. It’s about consistently expanding your network by being authentic. It is leveraging all the small aspects (e.g. branded links) and branding them in a way that they levitate your personal brand. One of the best ways to constantly improve your personal brand is to learn from the experts and implement their strategies in your plan. The better you build your personal brand, the more credibility you have in your industry, and the more likely it is that people associate your name with success.
Guest author: Alisha Shibli, Content Marketing Specialist at Radix
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- Online Personal Branding
- Personal Branding Tips
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