What Is a Personal Brand and Why Do You Need One?
Personal branding is how you present yourself to others. It is the practice of people marketing themselves and their careers as brands. Personal branding is a powerful tool for professional success. Everybody brands the qualities that make them different and unique, moreover, building a recognizable personal brand opens new professional opportunities. During personal branding process your will have the opportunity to discover these qualities, strengthen them and market them. It’s just a process to raise your profile and show your talents to a wider audience.
Your personal brand, like a company’s, is the image that employers connect with you. Your resume, LinkedIn profile, Twitter account, public profile, etc. convey your personal brand. Many people think that personal branding is just for celebrities such as Kim Kardashian, Kate Perry, Lady Gaga or Beyoncé. However, we are our own personal brand and we can also use the same tactics as the big names to make ourselves known.
Online and Offline World of Your Personal Brand
Social media can provide passive channels for sharing knowledge and updates about your latest success, but they can be also the main source that is going to affect your career in the bad way. Face it, prospective clients and employers are Googling you! Are they going to find something that sets you apart from the crowd in the good or bad way? Have you ever Googled yourself?
Your online reputation and perception is really influential in almost every hiring process and your digital identity can literally determine whether you get hired. Sometimes, it can also determine whether you get fired. (Oh, you had great success at work that you mentioned on LinkedIn and you get new recommendations from your customers, congratulations! But what about the party pictures from Facebook where you were drunk?)
Recruiters, head hunters and employers can often make assumptions on your personality based on your online social media input.
Don’t forget that your personal brand is also connected with and affecting the company brand. For more information, see the LinkedIn article “Your Employees are Your Ambassadors”.
Having your own blog is a great way to build brand awareness online. That is if you are writing about the industry where you are working, sharing interesting tips and content. People could take you as an expert in that field. Your blog will help you increase awareness about your person. Your posts can be shared by others and they can help you to introduce yourself to a wider audience (recruiters, headhunters, etc.)
Whether you like it or not, LinkedIn is an essential tool for your career. It is your personal online resume, but it could be also used as a portfolio of your work (graphics, presentations, videos, articles, etc.). This can encourage people to click and find out more about you and your work. Post the content on a regular basis so that recruiters and potential employers can see you. Keep it relevant, up-to-date, and definitely succinct. There is no need to post information about every voluntary work or that two years ago, you won a hot dog eating contest. Customizing your profile picture, headline, and choosing a custom URL can help you be more noticeable on LinkedIn. But don’t forget to keep your LinkedIn up-to-date.
Twitter is more informal than LinkedIn, but it’s a great space where you can meet new people and a wider audience. You can also easily promote your brand to new contacts, potential employers, or recruiters. But make sure that you keep your Twitter account professional because no employer likes reading some weird tweets. And don’t forget, every tweet could be found. Also the tweet that you posted two years ago.
Instagram / Pinterest
Of course, everybody should be allowed the freedom to share pictures with friends but it is always common sense not to post the pictures from wild parties.
Facebook is a private place where you share updates with your friends, however, make sure you have a suitable photograph and header image. You can have an extra private Facebook account, but still, people will be able to find both images. If you have your colleagues on Facebook, they can easily share your posts and pictures and you won’t be able to stop the sharing.
Check your privacy settings and close your Facebook from public views. Every post you send, every status update you make, every picture you share, contributes to your personal brand.
Ask yourself what would someone find on your Facebook if they went digging through your whole profile?
One of the best ways to promote you is sharing content on social networks. You can use the opportunity to promote your work accomplishments, skills, and your brand. But think twice before you post something, because you can easily affect your career in the bad way.
A Short Story (how to affect your personal brand in the wrong way):
A person I knew got an inMail from a company. I don’t know what was the reason behind it, but the person was offended by this inMail/offer, so he replied in a kind of weird way: should he start working for the company, he would request a red carpet with his name on it and other crazy things like that. He thought that it was funny, but his reply was shared through the HR community and started to live its own life. Sadly enough, it is going to affect his future career even if this person has a huge potential.
Don’t kill your personal brand and the brand of your company when you can do great things. And think twice before you publish a post, because once it’s on the Internet, it will be there forever.
Contacts are often a great source of opportunity, from putting new experiences your way to giving you access to useful resources. From time to time, make time for a lunch chat with someone who can help your career, try to build relationships with as many people as possible. Keep valuable contacts fresh. When people are going to talk about you in a positive way, it will help your personal brand to grow stronger. Your personal brand is reflected in what people say about you after they meet you. Having a positive personal brand has always been a good idea!
Your offline world is your resume which is another great place to communicate your brand identity.
Business cards are still a great way to introduce yourself to new people. Business cards are also a part of the brand, because you are using them for your networking. Get a professional, unique looking business card.
Ready to Build Your Brand?
The key to a successful personal brand is to identify what differentiates you, determine what you want your brand to be. Ask yourself what do you wish for people to associate with you when they think of your name? What do they see when they search for you on Google or social sites? What are you unique in?
Do a Brand Audit
Don’t just Google yourself. Check all your social accounts and see what strangers see when they search for you on these social networks.
Identify What Makes You Different
Find out why you are unique. What are yours special skills and talents?
You Need to Be the Best!
Every good brand involves the notion of expertise. You need to create the perception that you are very good at what you do. And it doesn’t matter what the field is. However, continue with your studies and learning. If you are not learning and improving, you can be expert today but not tomorrow.
If you have confidence in your abilities and believe you can get that job or get that promotion, then this will show through.
Share Your Accomplishments
Don’t say “I am the best car dealer in whole city”, share some success stories. Everybody loves a good story, so share something about you and your accomplishments. Others need to recognize you as a “best car dealer”.
Don’t forget that your personal brand is communicated every time you interact with another individual (online or offline). And as you continue to develop your personal brand, stay consistent with your efforts. Keep in mind that your personal brand is your reputation and that people will seek you out for your knowledge and expertise.
Be authentic! You are in charge of your brand.