How To Build Your Personal Brand
Everyone has a personal brand, including you.
What people think of when they hear your name, what appears on Google when someone searches for you, your presence on social media, etc.
Strategically crafting your personal brand and creating something that will help advance your life and your career is critical. If done effectively, a strong personal brand leads to new opportunities and connections that can change your life.
While it’s great to see so many people embracing their entrepreneurial spirit, every self-employed freelancer, independent contractor, and entrepreneur will soon face more competition than they already do. The key to differentiating yourself from your competition is creating a personal brand.
In this article, we’ll talk more about the importance of creating a personal brand and give you some practical steps to create one, even if you’ve never considered it before.
Why is it important to build your personal brand?
Your personal brand is important because it’s how you represent yourself when others search for you online, as well as the image you choose to communicate with face-to-face.
Whether we know it or not, all of our online activities – on LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter or other social media platforms – create a searchable online personal profile. Today, employers and recruiters use the Internet to conduct employment background searches and gauge an idea of the character and interests of their potential employees.
Actively building your personal brand allows you to have a say in how you market yourself and gives you control over crafting an accurate image of your identity, rather than something that happens by default.
Although social networking sites are primarily about engaging in a social context, it’s wise to look at them as sites where you can easily start building a personal brand.
With all of this in mind, let’s dive into how you can begin building a powerful personal brand.
8 Steps to Building a Compelling and Profitable Personal Brand
Your personal brand should be structured so that it is easily expressed in an online environment, as well as clearly communicated verbally and through behaviors and actions.
Because you ‘live and breathe’ your personal brand, it’s important that your brand is authentic and accurately portrays who you are.
1. Figure out what you’re passionate about
To create a personal brand that accurately reflects your personal and professional identity, you must first know who you are. Be introspective and make a list of your personal strengths and weaknesses. Ask yourself:
- What motivates me?
- What qualities did others admire about me?
- What projects do I need others to help me with over and over again?
- Which roles sap my energy?
- What projects can I spend hours on without feeling overwhelmed or exhausted?
If you struggle to answer these questions, ask friends, family and colleagues how they would describe you. Once you become familiar with the different aspects of your personality, you can decide how best to brand them.
Remember that many people struggle to choose a specific niche because they don’t want to limit themselves. Realize that your personal brand, like many corporate brands, will change as your career grows. The best strategy is to pick a specific area you want to focus on and let it evolve over time.
Doing so also attracts like-minded people who are driven by the same things as you or who see value in what you offer. This creates a stronger network.
2. Grow your social footprint
Create profiles on social networking sites that reflect your interests. Maximizing your LinkedIn profile to reflect your interests, skills and ambitions is essential. If you’re active on Facebook and Twitter, make sure your profile and the information you share on those sites are consistent with the tone and message of your personal brand.
3. Choose your target audience
Before you start crafting your personal brand, you also need to decide who you’re trying to reach. Is it other industry thought leaders? The individual in a particular organization? Recruiters? The sooner you define your audience, the easier it will be to craft your story because you’ll better understand the type of story you need to tell (and where you need to tell it.)
In order to attract your ideal clients, you must be willing to turn away the ones you don’t want to work with. It is about identifying a specific target audience and creating a brand that appeals to them.
It may sound counterintuitive, but if you try to be liked by everyone, you won’t impress anyone. You have to polarize to stand out. Not everyone who is exposed to you or sees your message will like you or resonate with you, and that’s perfectly fine. You don’t need to reach out to everyone to build a successful business. You need to reach your ideal customers.
4. Tell a story
One of the most effective ways to create a compelling personal brand is through storytelling. It’s easy to say who you are and what you do professionally — but a ho-hum description of yourself isn’t going to cut through the noise and allow you to stand out from the pack.
Think about what makes your story unique: Did you take an unusual path to get to where you are today? Has your life taken interesting twists or turns? How have your life experiences influenced your professional choices? The more color you can add to your story, the more compelling your personal brand will be.
One of the best ways to tell that story is through written content or video. Simply use your smartphone to video message your clients, make a personal connection with prospective clients and connect with co-workers. After all, you always have your smartphone on you!”.
5. Optimize your personal website
If you don’t have one, it’s time to make one. On your personal website, include the following:
- About you (interests, education, aspirations)
- Past experiences and relevant accomplishments
- Links to your socials
- Value proposition
- Professional logo and/or professional headshot and photos of you
- Clear calls-to-action
6. Have a content strategy
Creating and distributing free content is one of the most effective ways to build your brand and gain the trust of your target audience. Instead of trying to convince your audience that you can help them, you create content that actually helps them. It builds trust and helps establish you as an expert and authority in your field.
Research what subjects are generating buzz within your niche. Google Keyword Planner, Google Trends, and Exploding Topics are great tools to help you find what’s popular. You can go to trends related to your niche to make sure you’re in the conversation.
7. Build a community
Lastly, while accumulating followers may seem interesting, it won’t do anything if no one engages with you. Building a community means creating a place where people can talk to you and each other, get to know each other and help each other.
This is a great way to differentiate yourself if you want to build a business. Likewise, it helps if you want your name to advance your career.
To start building a community, consider the following strategies:
Facebook and LinkedIn groups. It allows people to start threads on related topics and talk amongst themselves. You can always spark a conversation.
Meetups. It’s hard to overstate the value of meeting people face-to-face. These meetings can be one-on-one or large gatherings of people to gather, share and learn.
Webinars. Webinars allow you to bring people together for a shared learning experience. It’s an opportunity to meet your audience, share your expertise, and continue to develop yourself personally.
8. Create a positive impact
After you’ve built your personal brand over a period of time, there are generally two ways to continue building your brand – jump on others and burn bridges, or steadily grow a community around your brand. Keeping a positive attitude and helping others will help keep your brand healthy in the long run.
Rediscover your personal brand as you grow
As the digital environment changes and your career evolves, so will your personal brand. As you meet different people, discover new networking opportunities and adjust your personality accordingly as you grow in your career. As long as it reflects your career, feel free to create a brand that allows you to shine.
While building a personal brand is a lot of work, the payoff when done right is huge. Personal brands allow you to build a network of professionals who see your value and think of you first when new opportunities arise.
Whether you want to build a business, accelerate your career, seek a mentor, or never find a job again, a personal brand can get you there.
Thanks for reading this article!