Restaurants, retailers, designers, technology companies, and more all have their own brand. When we see a logo, symbol, or design, we immediately know it’s from that brand. While we’re all familiar with branding for companies, branding on a personal level is also important. Discover why personal branding has become crucial in today’s world and learn how to create your personal brand.
Tom Peters, who wrote an article titled “A Brand Called You” for Fast Company over 10 years ago, was the first person to popularize personal branding. In his article, he states that regardless of our age, position, or industry, we need to know the importance of personal branding. Why should you care about creating your personal brand?
What is personal branding?
Personal branding is the practice of people marketing themselves as a brand for their career. Even if you’re just getting started, you already have a personal brand. Simply search your name and hometown online. Your social media pages, any local news articles, any blog posts, or your personal website are all part of your personal brand. While building a personal brand was once reserved for entrepreneurs who own their own business or people who wanted to start their own business, today personal branding is important to everyone.
Developing your personal brand is your way of controlling your career development. Consider an example of three people interviewing for the same job. They all have a good education, and all three had excellent interviews. However, before the hiring manager makes a decision, she searches the candidates’ names online. She discovers that the first candidate doesn’t have much of an online presence, the second candidate has a lot of social media and blog posts disparaging his last job, and the third candidate has written and published several articles that back up his qualifications.
In this example, you can easily see which candidate the hiring manager would choose. A lack of an online presence, or worse, a negative online presence, can have a harmful impact on your career. If you’re looking to create and build your personal brand, consider some of the following tips.
Start with your platform
The best way to start building your personal brand is by creating your own website. Ideally, your website will simply be your name. You’ll also want to use your social media accounts as part of your platform. Since you’ll be using these accounts to grow your career, you need to make sure they showcase your professional side. This means no pictures of wild weekends and no posts that can come across as unprofessional.
Some people choose to have separate personal and professional social media accounts. The personal accounts are kept private with the highest security settings possible so that they don’t show up when someone searches their name, and the professional accounts are kept public so they show up on the first page of results. Additionally, make sure you update your professional accounts frequently. Social media profiles rank highly because they’re popular websites and search engines recognize how relevant they are.
Define your target audience
Just like businesses draw up a target audience when they’re marketing a product, you need to decide who your target audience is when you create your personal brand. While a business is trying to sell a product or service, you’re trying to sell yourself. You’re selling yourself to possible clients when you’re attempting to start a business, and you’re selling yourself to a new boss when you’re looking for a job. By narrowing down who you want to attract with this personal brand, you can make it even easier to communicate the right message.
Share your knowledge
After you’ve created your personal website and you know who you’re targeting, you need to share your knowledge and show you’re an expert in your field. The first way to do this is by identifying your unique strengths. This is one or two characteristics that you’re exceptionally good at and everyone turns to you for help with. If you’re not sure what this strength is, consider asking your friends and family for input.
Once you know what this strength is, teach others how to improve in the same skill set. You can do this by publishing online and print articles, creating videos, or making social media posts. The point is to show that you’re an authority on your subject matter.
The point of personal branding is to showcase your best qualities, yet also show what makes you special. If you try to build a brand around what you’re hoping people will see, it’s going to feel inauthentic, and you’ll become exhausted trying to portray someone you’re not. Don’t be afraid to showcase your uniqueness. Use it as a way to show your personality and value.
Think offline as well
While a lot of personal branding focuses on what you can showcase online, don’t completely ignore what you can do offline as well. There are still plenty of offline opportunities in this digital world to build your personal brand. One of the best ways to do this is with speaking engagements. Not only are speaking engagements a great way to build your communication skills, but they’re also ideal for being seen and heard. You’ll meet new people, have the opportunity to share your knowledge, and answer questions to help your audience.
Chances are you won’t land high-quality speaking engagements right away. Instead, you’ll have to start small and keep working your way up. The more you work, the more you’ll start to build your following, and the better chances you’ll have of getting invited to bigger conferences and events.
Many people focus on writing articles for online publications, but don’t forget about submitting articles for print publications as well. Like the speaking engagements, you’ll have to start small when you submit articles and interviews to build your credibility and brand. However, the more you do it, the more you’ll begin to grow, and soon bigger opportunities will come your way.
Never stop learning
No matter how well you think you know your industry, it’s important to remember that things are always changing, and you have to stay current with the latest trends and changes to stay relevant. It takes time to build your personal brand, and you don’t want to waste all of your hard work and effort by letting it fall by the wayside. To make sure you’re not discredited, continue to produce a steady supply of articles, videos, blog posts, and more to showcase your knowledge.
While you certainly want to stay on top of the latest information in your own field, it never hurts to learn or develop a new skill. Doing so could branch off into an entirely new and productive personal branding field.
Always monitor your brand
After you spent all that time and energy building your personal brand, you need to monitor its growth and perception so you can see how your target audience and your industry feels about you. Your personal brand is all about your name, and just like the previous example with the job interview, people will use your name to search for you. You don’t want to have negative results or results mixed up with other people with the same name show up. That’s why it’s important to constantly watch your personal brand.
If you find unflattering results, you can work to have them removed. If it’s an embarrassing picture of you that a friend posted on his or her social media site, kindly ask if they’ll remove it. If you explain why, most people will understand. If you realize you’re getting someone with the same name as you in your search results, you can work to differentiate yourself. You can include your middle name or middle initial, use your first and middle name only, or even go by your first and middle initials and your last name.
Whether you’re trying to get a new job or grow your current career, creating a personal brand is an important step. With this information, you know how to create your personal brand, use it to meet your goals, and monitor your brand to make sure it’s always portraying the information you want.