Brand is just as important for individuals as it is for products. Without a strong personal brand, you’re bound to be left on the shelf to gather dust.
Personal branding is about presenting yourself authentically and engagingly to prospective clients, employers and more broadly, people in your industry. It’s not about being everything to everybody and it’s not about making claims you can’t back up.
Here are nine personal branding tips to help lift your profile and improve your professional reputation.
1. Why am I doing this?
What’s the purpose of your personal branding? You need to be clear on why and how you’re creating your personal brand.
As a business owner, your personal branding should link in with your business, creating synergy between your personal branding and your business. Think about how an entrepreneur like Richard Branson has crafted his image as a reflection of the Virgin brand: fun, innovative and a little cheeky.
2. Know your strengths
Play to your strengths. Identify the skills and knowledge that make you an asset and set you apart.
Go deep on these areas and bring them to the fore. Don’t dilute your brand by jumping on buzzword bandwagons or dabbling in areas you don’t know about. Your personal brand will grow when people see you have substantial insights to contribute about your areas of expertise.
3. Differentiate from the crowd
There are usually plenty of people, and sometimes thousands, with claims to be an authority in your area of expertise.
What makes you so special? What is it in your history or knowledge or approach that separates you from the pack? Find that thing, and you will be able to stand out from the herd.
4. Target your message
Who are you talking to and where do they hang out? If you’re trying to get your personal brand across to a broad, consumer audience, Facebook might be the way to go. If you’re targeting professionals in your field, go big on LinkedIn. Get in touch with industry associations and pitch yourself as an expert speaker.
There are so many ways now to get your brand out there, you just have to find the right ones for you.
5. Googled yourself lately?
Your personal brand is tied to Google. People inevitably Google your name. So what comes up when you Google your name? Is it brilliant, so-so, or horrible? Managing your online reputation is essential to building and maintaining your brand integrity.
Undertake personal branding activities that will bolster your Google image. For example, the more frequently you post blog articles the better your Google ranking will be. If you’re getting a byline on reputable publications (like SmartCompany or StartupSmart) this will immediately translate to improved results when people search your name.
Set up a personal website. This can give you a digital anchor point and allow you to start developing a stronger online presence. It’s cheap and easy to do.
6. What are others doing?
What are your colleagues, competitors and heroes doing about their personal branding? What ideas can you take from them? What are they doing well or badly?
Someone in your industry might be making podcasts, or someone else is making regular YouTube videos. This doesn’t mean you have to do these things as well, but it might open your eyes to new ways of presenting yourself.
7. Show some personality
Online interaction, especially via social media, allows people to express their personality in all sorts of ways; mostly good, sometimes not so good. Even if you work in fairly conservative industries like banking or insurance, a bit of personality can go a long way.
8. Put yourself out there
You could use the Greta Garbo brand strategy and become a mysterious recluse, but that’s probably not going to work for you unless you’re as famous as Garbo was in the first place. The reality is you have to get yourself out there if you’re going to make your personal brand pay dividends.
At the very least make sure you have established social media profiles on LinkedIn and at least one other social media platform that works for you. This is an easy and cheap way to get things started.
Networking is also a valuable way of building your personal brand. Not everyone is outgoing and gregarious, so it can be hard for some people to commit to the grind of networking events. However, the more regularly you network, the easier it becomes.
9. Be consistent
Live up to your brand and stay consistent. As with any consumer brand, people want to know what they’re getting. With an Apple product, it’s a device that’s stylish and easy to use. With your personal brand, it could be attributes like creativity and innovation, or reliability and accuracy. Deliver on your brand promises.