A lot has been written about the importance of personal branding. Yet, personal branding may still seem like an enigma, because what has been written often doesn’t focus on how to put it into practice.
Before you start building your personal brand, you need to determine your “why.” What do you want to get out of having a well-curated personal brand—exposure, job opportunities, clients? Once you know your why you’ll know what steps you should take to create the personal brand that will lead you to the opportunities you want to have.
A personal brand will look vastly different depending on your “why,” your audience, and your personality. If your audience is potential clients, then a quality website and brand assets, like a logo, will be a necessary part of building your personal brand. However, if your goal is to get a new job you may not need such a big deliverable. Although the “why” and the audience may vary from person to person, here are four practical tips for creating a personal brand that everyone can use.
If you haven’t Googled yourself recently, you might be surprised at what you find. Here’s the thing: potential clients, employers, and other gatekeepers of opportunity are certainly Googling you. They want to know more about you and that’s likely the first place they will check. It’s important to be aware of what comes up when you Google yourself, so you can remove anything that is counter to the brand you are trying to create. Be sure to check your privacy settings on certain social media sites. YouTube and Pinterest, for example, allow you to hide your profile from search engines. Do you really want potential contacts finding your dream wedding pins or your saved workout playlists? Maybe you do. If not, consider hiding personal material to be low-hanging fruit on your personal branding journey.
The whole reason you’re creating a personal brand is so others can see it, right? That means you have to put yourself out there. Here are a few ways to make yourself visible to your target audience.
- Presenting or speaking at conferences: Personal branding is all about building your authority as an expert in your field. There’s no better way to do that than to speak at an industry event. Most networking events have space for speakers to apply on their websites. Try reaching out to event planners, local organizations, and marketing departments to inquire about speaking opportunities.
- Articles: The internet has made self-publishing easier than ever before. Websites like Medium make it easy to write articles or blog posts on the subjects you care about. This is another great way to start positioning yourself as an authority. In addition, reaching out to already established blogs and publications and offering to make a guest post is a great way of putting yourself out there.
- Website: A website can be as simple or as complicated as you make it. With drag-and-drop platforms like Wix and WordPress, you can have a website up and running in 30 minutes. However, if you’re looking for something more customized or sophisticated, you’ll need to spend more time and money. In this day and age, most people won’t do business with an organization that doesn’t have a website. If you’re performing a service, a strong website is a must. IAW members get special rates from our partner Dotlogics on web design services.
- Online portfolio: If domain names, hosting, and designing all seem like a bit much to you, you may not need a website. If you’re simply looking for a way to showcase your skills and projects, websites like Journoportfolio or Behance offer a platform for you to do just that, with very little effort on your part. Having a quality portfolio is the best way to stand out from the competition.
Use media—traditional and social
The great thing about social media is that there are no gatekeepers. Everyone, in theory, has an opportunity to be heard and can amplify their thoughts to a virtually limitless audience. Using social media sites like Twitter, Linkedin, Fishbowl, or ClubHouse is a great way to start building a following of people who find value in what you have to say. Everyone has a unique perspective. Connecting with your audience authentically is the best way to build a great online reputation. Getting to know people on social media and turning likes and comments into stronger relationships is another way to expand your network.
Traditional media is also a very important avenue for building personal brands that businesses shouldn’t neglect. Yet, depending on your “why” and audience, traditional media opportunities can be much more difficult to pursue. Tools like H/A/R/O make it a bit easier to find and get traditional media opportunities.
Build your network
We all know that success in the business world is based on connections. When you build quality relationships with people in your industry, those relationships can reinforce your personal brand. It’s akin to someone endorsing your skills on LinkedIn. They’re saying that they know what you’re qualified to do and can vouch for it. Networking can be tricky, especially during the pandemic. There are options, however: IAW and many other organizations are still hosting multiple virtual events weekly. Consider dedicating a few hours a month to attending relevant events and meeting new people.
Building your personal brand may seem like a lot of work, but don’t overthink it. Your main task is to make genuine connections with people and be your authentic self, regardless of the stage of your career. Remember that personal brand building is a continuous process. As your career develops and your audience changes, your branding strategy and tactics will likely change as well.
Everyone has something of value to offer. Personal branding is about finding what that is and elevating it so it can be seen by the people who will help you succeed.