Building Up Your Own Personal Brand, The Basics
When we hear the word ‘branding’ we immediately think of companies. However, branding isn’t just something that companies think about, but can be applied to every single person out there. Whether you’re with a company or self-employed, it’s always good to build up your own personal brand since it’s what will get you opportunities. Your brand is how people perceive you and if you’re doing it right, more opportunities will open up for yourself and your business. With the tools now available to us, you have more opportunities to manage and shape your reputation.
Building up a reputation isn’t something that will happen overnight, it’s a long-term strategy that requires work and perseverance. If you manage a team, then it’s also a good idea to encourage them to build up their own brand as it will reflect well upon the company.
Define Who You Are
The first thing you should look out for is how people perceive you. If you’re looking to become a source or be known for a particular level of expertise, then you will need to build up your public image.
Take a look at your abilities and experiences, what can you bring to the table and what separates you from others in your field. If you had to evaluate yourself, what words would you use to describe yourself? How would other people describe you? If you’re unsure about the latter, ask some trusted colleagues or friends to give their descriptions.
If their answer reflects the direction you want to go in, then you’re on the right track. If not, you will need to look at why that is and identify the steps necessary to change that.
It may sound obvious when it’s said, but when someone is vetting a potential employee, they will google your name and try to find out as much about you as possible. Don’t think that this won’t be the case, the majority of employers will do it, meaning that you should be aware of the results that appear.
Take a moment or two to search your own name and see what results appear. Chances are the first page will display your social media profiles first, but there could be other things like blog posts, articles, comments and mentions that will appear. The results that will appear on the first page will shape a stranger’s first impression of you.
In the case of your social media profiles, these can be easily rectified through some editing and adjustments with privacy. Unless you’re directly involved with a site, it can be difficult to modify or change any other results that appear, but unless a link in question is incriminating, then you should only focus on the results you can change.
Choose A Portfolio
There are so many ways to showcase your skills and expertise, but picking the right one is necessary. Do you go for a blog, an about.me profile or settle for a LinkedIn profile? The answer is relevant to your line of work: a creative type would do well having a Flickr or Tumblr page showcasing their work, the majority of professionals would use a LinkedIn profile to connect with others within their industry. This can be the most straightforward way of connecting with people and with the InMail function, it allows you to contact people you’re not connected with for a small price.
An about.me page is also a good way of showcasing your skills and bringing together all of your social media profiles together. If you’re looking for a more creative way to display your talents and social media plays a part in it, it’s worth experimenting with.
Like all things, if you provide value, people will want to follow and interact with you, but you need to determine the type of people you want interacting with you. If you need direction, you should define your niche and focus on that area alone. Provide links relating to it, follow leaders within that field and those within the local scene, contribute to discussions and interact with people. People won’t know you if you keep to yourself so take the first step and interact, most people won’t mind and some are happy to continue the conversation.
When people become more familiar with you and are regularly engaging in conversations with you, they will also begin to trust you and your opinion. This is important as you it will mean that these people will vouch for you, potentially increasing the number of business opportunities you will get.
Don’t Expect Anything In Return
It may sound counter-productive, but it’s an effective method of getting your name out there. The same principles that apply to social media apply here. When you’re networking, it’s tempting to go up to someone with the intention that they can help you out with something. While it’s perfectly normal to feel that way, getting something in return should be a long-term strategy.
Think about it, if someone that you never met before came up to you one evening, introduced themselves and then shortly after, asked for a favour, would you consider it? Chances are you wouldn’t because you don’t know them. However, if it was someone that you knew for quite a while, then you would be more willing to go ahead with it since there is a friendship there.
In short, networking is not a short- or even medium-term strategy, it’s one that will take some time to properly form relationships and understand what they’re looking for.
- Business Insider provides ten tips from different experts about the best ways to develop your personal brand.
- While focused primarily on businesses, The Branding Muse gives some great branding advice which you can adapt for personal use.
- The Guardian explains how you already have a personal brand, whether you choose to develop it or not.
- Forbes provides the first steps you should take to build your personal brand.
- Inc.’s interview with Julia Allison focuses on the important features behind a good personal brand.