Whether you are a student on the job hunt, a corporate employee or a freelancer, nowadays you need to take care of managing your own reputation – both online and offline, because your reputation in long-term is a foundation of your career.
Personal branding is the process of creating a recognizable professional name and reputation for yourself. Your brand is stronger than your business card: communicating and delivering your brand clearly and consistently will create a memorable experience in the minds of those you interact with, which will open doors to plenty of new opportunities and help you with personal development, career advancement and establishing yourself as a leader.
- Google Yourself
You can evaluate the current state of your personal brand by simply googling yourself. All potential employers, customers, partners are googling you, and so should you. After all, you want to know what image of you these people form after looking you up.
Not satisfied with the results? Start with getting rid of all the irrelevant or embarrassing information. If it’s content you have control over – just take it down or put it under a different name than the one you use professionally. If it’s content that someone else owns—ask if they can remove it or use a fake name. If it is not possible, create new content on higher-ranking sites to move further what you want to hide.
- Be discoverable online
Didn’t manage to find yourself online? Stop finding excuses. Use your real name and optimize your social media profiles for an easy discovery. If needed, add a middle name to differentiate yourself from others with the same name & surname (1)
- Focus only on what is relevant
Choose several social networks for brand building and use them consistently to strengthen your personal brand: prove your expertise, share relevant articles & images, define your values. Delete all other old accounts that you do not use anymore.
- Get a professional headshot
If you do not have it yet, time to do it: smiling, confident, sharply dressing image will make you look more competent and likable.
- Define your story
What do you want other people would think of you as a professional? Which qualities & values you would like them to use to describe you? Make sure to have a clear vision and build your personal brand only around it. A good example of a short elevator pitch is the following: “I help [my target audience], who has [a problem of my target audience], to get [the desired results] with help of [my solution].“
- Consistency is key
It is very important to stick to the same communication style & visual identity on all the channels.
- Be authentic
Branding is not about creating a false image. It is about what is real and true about you, Begin by exploring what makes you different by embracing your unique skills & talents.
- Create a central HUB
You need to have one central location on the web that will stand out for your personal brand: share your values and vision, demonstrate your achievements and views. Check out great examples of personal branding websites (1; 2). If done right, your central hub will show up on the first page of the results for your name and give you a place where you fully control the content about you.
- Do not say it – show it
It is not enough only to talk about your skills & abilities. What people are looking for are references and impressions. Therefore, make sure to include the section showing your strengths in action in your central HUB. Do not be shy to quantify yourself and demonstrate your created value (100 articles, 50+ positive reviews, saved 10m eur) and ask your customers to share their reviews & feedback.
- Create an experience
Instead of being transactional, do your best to create a real value for your target audience – give them something extra that will make them want to come back for more. For example, on an ongoing basis share the expert content – articles, presentations, posts (opinion, analysis, cases), interviews with other experts.
- Work on your credibility
Update your network about your career progress: which events & conferences you are attending, which opinion leaders you are meeting, which courses and seminars you are following. Do not focus only on the past experience, share with your audience your plans & ambitions as well.
- Associate with other strong brands
Find and leverage strong brands which can elevate your own personal brand. Start with the three C’s: company, college, colleagues. Submit a guest article to a company blog or participate in the alumni event.
- Be social
Do not forget about the social part of social media – use it to communicate with others, share your professional opinions & thoughts online, meet new people and build long-lasting relationships. Learn more how to excel at networking (Networking Pro tips).
If you are interested in the topic and want to learn more how to develop your personal brand from scratch, I recommend you to use an amazing workbook from PricewaterhouseCoopers that will take you through the process of determining how you want to be seen by the world step by step (1). Another worthy source is a complete guide to building a personal brand from QuickSprout (1).
Thank you for reading and good luck with personal brand building!
P. S. This post was inspired by a presentation made for a networking event in Brussels “How to Build Your Brand and Network Efficiently” organized by Fearless Female Founders – a ladies-only networking community promoting female empowerment and entrepreneurship.
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