Building an online personal brand for yourself is something more imperative than you may think. When you hear the word branding, you may think about it only in terms of a business and not as something you need personally. However, establishing a personal brand is very important and will help you advance down your career path.
In this article, I want to talk about the importance of developing a personal brand for yourself and provide some tips for getting started. First, let’s discuss what a personal brand is!
What is a personal brand?
Personal branding is all about creating a reputation — aka, a brand — that represents the sum total of your career and professional persona. It’s about who you are, what it is that you do, how you work, and where you are headed.
Like a consumer brand, a personal brand not only tells your story, it sets the stage for growth and will advance you towards your future career success. A personal brand goes beyond the basic resume to deliver a more complete picture of who you are professionally.
Why do you really need a personal brand?
As I mentioned above, a personal brand is more imperative than you may think. Here are just a few reasons why you need to develop your personal brand:
Employers search online to investigate their candidates
There are scads of examples out there of qualified candidates applying for jobs and getting turned down simply because they ignored their online image. Almost 80 percent of employers “Google” job seekers before even inviting them into an interview. This is No. 1 reason why a personal brand is so important. Employers do, and will, search for you online.
Take charge of your message
When potential employers search for you online, having a strong personal brand can ensure that what they find is what you want them to find. You can take charge and lead the way they perceive you and your image.
Develop a clear vision
A personal brand helps you discover who you are and what you’re all about. Employers can learn about your passions, see what excites you, and even envision where you would like to be in the future.
Boost your expertise and authority
Building your personal brand will not only show you in a more professional light but also tell your potential employer what you’re about and what you’re an expert in. Once you have developed a clear vision for your brand, the expectation of your expertise and authority in your field will gain momentum.
Taking control of your personal brand is one of the most important things you can do for your online reputation. It may take a lot of thought and more than a little effort, but in the end, you and your career will be stronger for it.
Top tips for creating a personal online brand
Now that you know why a personal brand is important, here are some tips on how you can start developing it:
1. Create your brand
The first step is to determine how you will brand yourself. How do you want your company to be thought of when you come to mind? Are you an expert in your field? Are you one of the best at what you do? Or is it more about the experience of working with you that should stand out? Define these aspects as clearly and concisely as you can and put them into words that anybody from your intended audience will understand.
2. Define your audience
Do you know who you are selling to? Do you know how old they are, what they do in their spare time, what they value most? Having a clearly defined audience ensures that your marketing efforts will be directed appropriately. It will hone your efforts and make them count, both from a time-spent standpoint and from a financial one.
3. Develop a strong, professional social media presence
Choose platforms that are appropriate to your line of business. LinkedIn and Twitter are the best ones to get started with, but having a Facebook business page and Instagram may also important. Instagram is actually a great platform if your work can be represented in a visual way. Best of all, social media is free, until you get into paid advertising, but first things first – that’s not necessary right away.
4. Curate content to share across your various platforms
Content curation is a way to encourage interest in your brand on social media. You can’t just be selling all the time because people will just switch off. Choose a few influential and/or entertaining sites that you like (hopefully related to your niche) and choose some of their posts to rebroadcast to your audience. Mention influencers in your posts, and reach out to them for link-backs and cross-posts. Connect with your audience and they will keep coming back for more.
5. Register a domain name and get a professional email address
Get a professional domain name and create an email account for yourself. For example, JohnSmith.com. If the .com version is taken, register the .me version. Create a professional email with your new domain name like firstname.lastname@example.org – this way you won’t be tied down to your ISP, or a free email service like Yahoo or Gmail. Using a domain name email gives you a more professional image right off the bat.
6. Get a local vanity phone number
A really unique way to help build your own personal brand is to get a vanity phone number. You can get either a toll-free or local area code, although a local one would be just fine for your personal brand. It’s pretty easy and affordable to do this and you can get a cool number like 555-john-doe.
7. Get a website
Having your own personal website is a great way to develop your personal brand. It gives you a launching pad where people can go to learn all about you. You can put it on your business cards, connect your social accounts, and in general, it’s just a great way to promote yourself on a professional level.
8. Come up with a great tagline
This is also known as a personal slogan – it should be short, concise, and to the point. You should be able to tell the world exactly who you are in six words or less.
9. Get a cool logo
Get a cool and unique logo designed for yourself and one that you can use on your website, printed materials, social accounts, and email signatures. If you aren’t design savvy, hire a graphic designer from a freelance site such as Fiverr, Freelancer, or Upwork.
10. Write your bio and take a great headshot
If you haven’t got one already, write a great bio and take a professional headshot for yourself. If this is not your forte, find a bio writer on one of the freelance sites written above. For your headshot, make sure it represents the image you are trying to convey.
11. Start a blog and write about your expertise
Start a blog where you write about things you are interested in and know about to show off your knowledge and area of expertise. A blog is also helpful for having shareable content to post on your social accounts. It builds credibility and positions you as a subject matter expert.
12. Make sure your information is up to date
Make sure every little thing you have posted online – listings, reviews, articles, guest posts, resumes, CVs – all of these should be up to date, current, and accurate with the appropriate links back to your home website and/or social accounts.
13. Actively listen to news in your industry
Find out what the competition is doing and keep up with your peers. Follow thought leaders in your niche and connect with others who are doing similar things, even if they are in other cities or states.
14. Give credit where credit is due
Recognize influencers in your niche and shine a light on their accomplishments, especially if it’s something or someone that has had a positive impact on you, what you do, and how you do it.
15. Join groups and volunteer to help others
Contribute your advice, comment on posts that you find a personal connection to, and find ways of helping others in yours or in a complementary field. Ask and answer questions and encourage your audience to reach out whenever you can. The more active you are, the more relevant you become.
16. Develop your story
A strong personal brand is almost always supported by a compelling story. If you work in a range of disciplines, this is especially important, as having a common thread you can weave through will pull it all together. Think of a few individuals who have strong personal brands: Martha Stewart, Bill Gates, Richard Branson – these are all very good examples of people with a strongly identifiable personal brand.
Developing a strong personal brand is important for you and your career. Potential employers will search for you online, and when they do, you need to be able to control what they are able to find. Even if you are busy enough without a website or social media channels, make sure that your message always comes across loud and clear.