Importance of Developing a Personal Brand
So why is personal branding so important? Your personal brand is how you market yourself. Developing a strong personal brand can yield advantages, such as industry recognition and job opportunities. Creating your personal brand allows you to stand out from the pack. The things you say, the things you do, the people you meet all help give you an advantage in the eyes of employers.
It is important to know that a personal brand is not created overnight. It takes time to form a reputation and shape your brand. It is is also important to understand the importance of consistency. The way you want to portray yourself and your brand should be consistent through online and offline channels. To start, define your area of expertise ( skill sets, industry, type of work, etc.) and begin building your personal brand.
Online Personal Branding Strategies
What tools can you use to build and improve your personal brand? Here are just a few:
- LinkedIn and other social media networks
- Website / online portfolio
- Usernames & Email addresses
You can begin building your brand by expanding your professional network on LinkedIn and on other social media sites. Take advantage of the fact that intelligent, successful and important people and companies are on social media. Engage with strong influencers and brands, but keep in mind who you are associating yourself with. Do not be a ghost on social media. Create and curate thought leadership content. Imagine that what you are posting is being read by your future boss. Other tips and things to remember when shaping your personal brand on social media:
- Profile image
- Vanity URLs
- Bio / “About Me” Summary
Keeping all of your personal online channels consistent will enhance the affects of your personal brand.
Website / Online Portfolio
Leverage your personal website, portfolio site, or blog to engage with people in your industry and showcase your expertise. What do people to see when they search your name online? With a personal site, you can ensure you are portrayed in a manner that is consistent with your branding.
Also, as with any brand marketing collateral, ensure your personal branding materials all mesh together. This includes your business cards, resumé, cover letter, and yes, your website. I know what you’re thinking, “Not much I can do with my cover letter, it’s so boring.” Just simply add a watermark or logo to make yours stand out!
Professional Email Addresses
Last but not least, do not forget about a professional email address! Let’s get rid of that first screen name from AOL, shall we? A common email template to use that is simple and professional is firstname.lastname@example.org. Also, think about the email service provider you are using. The top 3 email services are Outlook, Gmail, and Yahoo Mail. Consider updating not only your email address, but perhaps the provider as well. It may seem minor, but this can make a big difference.
Building Your Brand Offline
When building your brand offline, do not forget about your poise and your style. How you dress and present yourself in the real-world (that still counts, you know), affects how you are viewed. You have heard it a million times, but first impressions are so important, and your brand and image should be represented by the way you dress.
Next, you should network, network, and network some more. Attend industry networking events in your area; even join industry associations, which will lead to more events and opportunities for networking. Be the lead of an event and accept speaking opportunities.
Continue to network with current and past co-workers. There is nothing wrong with a good old-fashioned coffee or lunch date with a colleague a couple desks down from you. Take it one step further. Grab lunch with a colleague in another department and continue to learn different parts of the business. No matter where you are in your career, continue to learn and grow. Expand your elevator pitch. Earn industry certifications and/or opt for higher education in your area of expertise.
Lastly, branding is boosted by giving back to your network, which includes alumni networks, philanthropy involvement and opportunities, association involvement, and maintaining past and current professional relationships and mentorships.
Measure Your Brand
As with any project, you want to measure your results and adjust your strategy as needed. However gauging and measuring your personal brand can be tough. To help, ask yourself these questions:
- Am I attracting the right audience?
- Is the audience of quality rather than quantity?
- Am I engaging with my audience?
- Is my audience engaging with me?
- Am I building a trusting relationship with my audience?
It is not about having 500+ connections, but having quality connections and knowing who those connections are to you and your professional goals.
Building and developing your personal brand is a marathon, not a sprint. It takes time for things to come together. Presenting yourself consistently through online and offline channels is key. Let everyone see you in the same light, whether in person or on the Internet. Your brand is always evolving. Remember, change is good. Do not be afraid to make tweaks here and there to build your brand the way you want. Challenge yourself. Step outside of your comfort zone to meet and talk to new people. Building your list of quality connections for networking can only help you in the long run.