Do you think branding is just for businesses?
Well, hold on to that thought. It’s now becoming increasingly important for individuals to create their own image and voice that others come to recognise.
This article explores why you should brand yourself, and also shares some tips on how you can get started.
Why is it important to brand yourself?
1. Open professional doors
If you have a strong brand, people will start to notice you. You may therefore find that you attract like-minded people, such as professionals connecting with you on LinkedIn. Having good connections can be extremely useful, particularly when looking for a job. Your connections could have opportunities that may be relevant to you and it can even open avenues that you’ve never explored or considered before.
2. Establish yourself as an expert
As well as people getting to know you by name, you can also position yourself as an expert within your industry. This way, people will get to know you for your experience and knowledge too. People will soon stop and listen to what you have to say, which can be extremely useful for your career path, showing potential employers that you have something that is valuable to them.
3. Set yourself apart
If you’re applying for a job, it’s likely that you’re not the only one. It’s therefore important to stand out from the crowd, differentiate yourself from others and be unique. Instead of just having a basic CV and cover later to show a prospective employer, a powerful personal brand can help you to get noticed and be remembered.
How can you brand yourself?
Before you read any further, take a moment to go to your search engine. Type in your name and see what results appear. If you have a Facebook page, it’s likely that you’ll see it near the top of the page. You may even see your LinkedIn profile picture appear, or your blog if you have one. All of these things come together to form part of your brand, so you will already have one, without even realising it. In fact, with social networking and search engines such as Google, it has now become virtually impossible not to have a personal brand.
However, don’t just leave your brand up to chance. You need to brand yourself and maintain it continuously in order for it to be effective. Although you may never be able to 100% control what people think about you, you can take a series of simple steps to help develop the impression others have of you:
1. Decide how you want people to perceive you
Just like any business, you need to start out with a long-term plan. Decide how you want others to see you and write a personal branding statement so you can refer back to it. Focus on areas such as your passion, goals and tone of voice. You may also want to consider how you will brand yourself so you stand out from others, for example, you could focus on a niche area of expertise. However, don’t forget that to be unique, it may just require you being yourself and letting your true personality shine through.
2. Build your online presence
Make sure you consider how you want people to find out about you. You may want to brand yourself by creating relevant social media accounts such as LinkedIn and Twitter. Next, you could consider setting up a website and a blog, where you can show your expertise in a particular subject area. Ensure any platforms you use are consistent and that you update them all on a regular basis.
Don’t forget that social media is a two-way conversation, so as well as publishing content for other people to read, you could also encourage professionals to engage with you. For example, you could join a LinkedIn group and start a conversation, run a poll on Twitter, or ask people to leave their thoughts on a particular subject at the bottom of your blog post.
You should also audit your existing online presence and ensure you are happy with it. For example, if an employer clicks through to your Facebook page, do you really want a picture of you out on a night out to be the first thing they see? You may therefore need to consider removing anything unprofessional, or change your privacy settings.
3. Don’t underestimate the power of offline
In addition to your online presence, take some time to develop your offline brand too. Focus on your own personal appearance, attend relevant events, network at tradeshows and you could even create some professional business cards to hand out when you meet people. How you brand yourself doesn’t always have to rely on digital mediums.
4. Create something visual
To help you better understand your brand, or even to help show it off, you could create something visual which encompasses all of the traits of your personal brand. Whether you want to write it down or create a mood board, this may be a truly useful step in branding yourself.
Seek out resources that can help with your personal branding. For example, a simple step-by-step personal branding tool can create a personalised webpage to help you communicate your brand to colleagues, people within your industry and prospective employers.
So what are you waiting for? Get started today, and brand yourself you stand out from the crowd.
Elizabeth Harmon is a writer for Open Colleges, one of Australia’s leading online education providers. She discusses various subjects, including careers, business and online marketing. She is a Social Media Consultant with a number of years’ experience in the field. She has worked with a growing list of clients around the world, helping to build successful social media strategies, create effective content and much more. You can follow her on Twitter @Liz_Harmon.