Personal branding is not a new concept. The practice has been around longer than most social media companies that shaped the world as we know it today. The term “personal branding” was first used in a 1997 Fast Company article by Tom Peters titled The Brand Called You.
Essentially, personal branding is the ongoing process of creating an impression in the mind of others about yourself as an individual.
Your brand is a perception or emotion, maintained by somebody other than you, that describes the total experience of having a relationship with you.
David McNally and Karl Speak, authors of Be Your Own Brand
In today’s digital age, the phrase “personal branding” is synonymous with displaying one’s top achievements and being a thought leader. It enables today’s professionals to reveal their presence through action, data and performance.
Here are five tips to help you get started with building personal brand online:
1. Invest in your own website
When someone is interested in working with you or inviting you to speak to an event, the first thing they are most likely to do is Google you. You’ve probably done it yourself (if you haven’t yet, you really should). The ideal outcome of this search would be your personal website in the top results.
On your website, you should have a clear narrative about who you are, what your experience has been in the industry where you’re considered to be an expert, and how people can connect with you.
Here are some key questions your website should be able to provide an answer to:
- What makes you unique and what do you want people to remember about you?
- What’s your USP (unique selling proposition)?
- What is your expertise?
- What is the value you bring to the table/project/organisation/event?
- What have you written/published about the subjects you’re an expert on? Where can people read your articles or buy your books? Do you have a newsletter?
- How can people reach you?
- What collaboration opportunities are you offering?
- How does one start to work with you? What are the necessary steps they should take?
- Where can people connect with you, on other channels?
The design should reflect your personality and it should be tailored to your audience first and foremost. If you’re looking to attract companies, think what type of website they would find it easier to navigate and what they would look to obtain from visiting your website. If you want to connect with event organizers think what they’d like to find there.
Use your personal website to show past collaborations, events, partners and guest articles. Everything you put out there should also be reflected or linked to from your website. The link exchange will also be beneficial in terms of SEO, if you have other authoritative websites linking back to you.
2. Start blogging
If you don’t have a blog yet, you should think about starting one on your new website. Blogging is an important online practice that helps you create your own content, express your expert opinions and get more credibility online.
You can also blog on an external platform if you know your audience spends a lot of time there. Medium, for example, is a blogging platform that has evolved into a publishing platform. It was made by the company that brought us Blogger and it was made by the co-founders of Twitter, Evan Williams and Biz Stone. Visually, it’s clean, attractive, and modern. You can use it as a second blog, where you can diversify your content and engage with your audience based on their preferences.
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Your articles will help you grow a list of contacts. Create a database with all these contacts interested in receiving content newsletters from you or downloadables.
3. Be present on social media
Find your audience where they spend most of their time and where they like to consume content. Every day, you should be sharing and producing content. Adjust the frequency and types of content based on the audience presence. I recommend focusing on two or three social networks and try to be active on them, rather than posting sporadically to a half-dozen.
The best way to organize your social media posting is to create an editorial calendar and a diverse content plan so that you won’t resort to publishing the same types of articles every single day.
Be sure to include images, videos, infographics, and even questions. The more divers your content, the better chances you have of expanding your reach and growing a loyal follower base. And, remember, consistency is key.
4. Monitor your brand
A big part of managing your personal brand is knowing what people are saying about you and being able to connect with them on the many different channels they spend their time on online.
There are different tools that you can use for different activities. There are many brand monitoring tools, social engagement tools and content tools that you can use. Here are some of the most popular ones:
Make sure you use a consistent look and feel on all your channels - the same profile image, name and bio. You want to personalize and adapt the content and frequency to each individual channel and their specific audience, but you want to present yourself in a recognizable manner. Potential clients may notice you on LinkedIn and decide to check out your other profiles so it’s important they know they’ve found the right account at first glance.
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5. Become an industry influencer
Be a source of news and opinions in your industry. You can start by studying other influencers and their audiences to get a feel for the type of content they create, how they share it and how they connect with their followers. Get in touch and try to collaborate with some of them. Over time, you’ll build a relationship and you’ll be able to define yourself as an influencer as well.
Once you achieve this status, you’ll be able to connect to other brands as well, especially company brands. Make sure to select and leverage strong brands which can elevate your own personal brand.
If you’re unsure where to start, try the three C’s: company, college, colleagues. Ask yourself:
- Which school did you attend?
- Are there groups you can join?
- An alumni newsletter you can contribute to?
- What hidden opportunities are available within your company which you have yet to tap?
What other tactics have you tried for building your personal brand? Share your thoughts with me in the comments below.