As many of us work from home and are forced to socially distance ourselves, one now has the time to review, define and improve our personal brand. To stand out, to find your next job, to build your network.
Personal branding is the practice of marketing people and their careers as brands. It is an ongoing process of developing and maintaining a reputation and impression of an individual, group, or organization. Even Oprah Winfrey began by going through several iterations of her show before finding her voice and transforming into one of the most influential brands in the world.
Today, the reality is that your personal brand is linked to social media whether we like it or not. Your personal brand is not solely based on your perspective, but largely on the perceptions from others; your personal brand is the aggregate of positive and negative as seen largely through the lens of others. Remember social media has little to do with what we say about ourselves, and has everything to do with what people say about us.
You’re a brand. I’m a Brand. We’re all brands whether we want to or not. Now to those five tips to help improve all our brands.
- Start by defining your personal brand
Too many people are unfocused and trying to be “everything to everyone.” In today’s hyper-competitive world it’s crucial that you build your case of what it is that you do differently. As important as it is to define your purpose, it is of utmost importance to differentiate yourself.
Knowing your personal brand “why” is an important step. Only when you truly know your “why” can you find the courage to take risks needed to get ahead, stay motivated, and define your brand clearly with a rewarding trajectory.
You can begin to define your personal brand by answering these questions:
- Who do you want to serve and why?
- What are you passionate about?
- What are you great at (your areas of expertise)?
- How are you different from others within your field?
- What unique value do you offer (related to your business)?
- Identify your target audience
Once you’ve identified your niche the key is to begin to narrow it down to address a specific demography. It’s crucial to have a clear idea about who your target audience is. Since branding is based on authenticity, you need to understand who you are and what makes you compelling to your target audience aka the people who are making decisions about you.
As you think about what makes you, start to ponder some of the below questions:
- What do they want from you?
- What are their biggest aspirations?
- What are their biggest fears?
- What experiences have you had that can help them?
- Where do they hang out the most?
- What do they associate themselves with?
Conduct thorough research on all these questions and then build your message to best balance authenticity and what your audience might be looking for.
- Post Regularly on Social Media
The key to using social media to build your personal brand is to have a focused strategy, set time limits, and continuous reinforcement.
Sharing online allows you to craft an online persona that reflects your personal values and professional skills. Even if you only use social media occasionally, the content you create, share or react to feeds into your public narrative. How you conduct yourself online is now just as important as your behavior offline.
Building your personal brand on social media takes some work, but it can help you land you your next job opportunity or help you to foster valuable connections.
- Focus on platforms where your audience hangs out. You don’t have to be everywhere, but you may need to tailor your content based on the platform you’re using – such as images on Instagram, articles on LinkedIn, and a combination of media on Facebook.
- Engage with your audience by asking questions, posting discussions, setting up polls, making comments, and replying to comments to keep the dialogue going
- Start a private community with your target audience where you can offer help and advice
- Join groups relevant to your area of expertise and interact with the members there.
- Consistently share your personal brand content by maintaining a social media content calendar.
- Spend time on platforms that your fellow influencers run. By engaging within those networks, you’ll increase your visibility with people who can have a valuable effect on your success. And with a clear personal brand, you’ll be able to show them exactly how you can help them and they can help you.
- Develop valuable content
Decide which social media account(s) you are going to focus on, and delete any old accounts that you are no longer using. For the networks you will be using, make sure all of your information is complete and accurate. This will help build traffic on the networks you want to showcase your work. It can also remove any potential “questionable” content from years past that doesn’t have a positive effect on your professional image. Before you begin to develop content, think about what you want to be known for. Your digital reputation stays for life, so I encourage you to treat your reputation that way.
Everyone’s an expert at something – whether it’s content marketing or having an in depth knowledge of your favorite TV show. Is it time for you to experiment a bit more? What type of content have you created that your followers have responded to most? Can you replicate this with other similar content? The more unique and engaging content you create on your chosen topic of expertise, the more your followers will start to think of you as a leader in your chosen field.
As you get going with developing content ensure you’re producing content regularly and staying on topic to gain trust. Once you’ve become a thought leader, begin to seek out guest appearances. Working with other relevant people within your field to expand your reach can help tremendously to enhance your personal brand.
- Think of being an influencer like being an intern, everyone must prove themselves.
Nobody wants to work with a self-interested, self-absorbed, self-serving self-promoter. Nobody. The days of endless self-promotion are over. The quickest way to lose followers is to constantly promote yourself.
It’s important to seek to promote others and become a curator of content that speaks to your purpose or product with the goal of adding value. Assume everyone can help you.
- Always Respond: Conversation > Promotion
- Have an opinion online, add value, and become engaged within online feeds.
- Follow people, really… it’s okay! And when you get unusual followers (good ones) always reach out!
The very best brands come from repeated trial and error, mistakes and failures and not from instant perfection. My final piece of advice for those of you reading this is to remind you to be ready to fail. Failure is tough, and all of us generally want to avoid it – it’s human nature.
Walt Disney spoke of this when he reminisced about his failed first attempts at creating an animation brand.
“I think it’s important to have a good hard failure when you’re young. I learned a lot out of that. Because it makes you kind of aware of what can happen to you. And what can happen is never as frightening as not trying at all.”-Walt Disney
Defining your personal brand takes time and it doesn’t come easily. Like anything else worth investing in, it takes time, effort, patience and thick skin to make it a success. Learn from failures, but try to fail fast and move on.
It’s hard to imagine a future where social media in whatever form is less prevalent than it is today. Now is the time to spend time defining your personal brand and get started with simple steps.
Regardless of age, position, line of business, all of us need to understand the importance of branding. We are CEOs of our own companies: Me Inc. To be in business today, our most important job is to be head marketer for the brand called You. It’s that simple — and yet, that hard.