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Personal Branding 101: How To Perfect Your Own
McDonald’s. Coca-Cola. Google. Three brands everyone the world over will know, and maybe even love. Branding is a powerful tool that will often influence your decisions, purchases, and associations with a company or product.
Branding is the process of tying a unique name, image, and often feeling, with a product. It’s like a shortcut in your brain, helping you to make quick decisions in the supermarket or at the train station so that you can pick up your favourite coffee or newspaper.
But did you know, the same can be applied to you?
What is personal branding?
Personal branding is the process of aligning your name and image with an attitude, industry, or topic. It lets people know what you’re about, and even better, it tells employers you’re passionate about what you do, and why you do it.
Personal branding is a relatively new concept, and the rise of social media has enabled forward-thinking professionals to harness the power of branding for their own gain. By creating a personal brand, you’ll benefit from:
- More job opportunities
- New contacts and/or clients
- Better reputation in your industry
How to create your personal brand
If you’re already on platforms such as Twitter, Instagram, or LinkedIn, you’ve already started down the path of a personal brand.
Nowadays, employers routinely search for candidates on social media, so the bare minimum you can do is have a clean profile with a photo of yourself, and your relevant career history. Make sure information is co-ordinated across each profile too: inconsistencies can cast doubt over how truthful you are.
And it really goes without saying: if there’s content on your social accounts that you don’t want employers to see, make sure you set your profile to private.
However, this alone won’t make you stand out from the crowd.
You need to have a vision, and commit time to making that vision a reality. That means positioning yourself correctly, consistently creating posts on your social profiles, and engaging with employers.
1. Set your sights on your dream job
The first step to building your personal brand is to know what you want to get out of it.
For some, that will be career progression in a field they have specialised, such as Accountancy, or Medicine. For others, it’s about finding what appeals to you now, and what you have the stamina to work towards. That might be the teaching job you’ve always wanted, or a role as a Communications Officer for a business you love.
Whatever you’re dreaming of, your personal brand can help you catch the eye of potential employers, and make you desirable over a long list of job candidates.
2. Get to know – and embrace – yourself
Knowing what career you want is step one. Knowing yourself, and how you can add authenticity to your personal brand, is step two.
Whether you’re taking the first step on your career path, or you’re a seasoned employee, knowing your character, your strengths, and your weaknesses, is incredibly useful.
First, define the values that are important to you. Do you strive to be polite or persuasive, charismatic or knowledgeable? Who do you look up to, and why do you look up to them?
A sure-fire way of defining your character is to take a personality test. Not only will this help you to build your brand, but you can use the knowledge to your advantage in the workplace, and even communicate what kind of person you are to your managers and employer.
By combining your character with your career aspirations, you’ve defined what makes you unique, and what you’re aiming to achieve. It’s now time to apply this to your profiles.
3. Position yourself online
Most of the time, a personal brand can be built using general social media platforms. LinkedIn is a social network specifically created for professionals, but places like Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook can all raise your profile significantly too.
First, you need to update your bio on each platform to define who you are, and what you do. For an journalism student, that might look like:
Journalist, @CityUniLondon Student, @GlamourUK Contributor
As you may have noticed, this student is already indicating they’re a journalist. In order to leverage yourself into the career you want, there’s no point in indicating you’re “aspiring” or “soon to be” in a role. Give yourself the job title you want, and work to back that up through the work you do and the content you post.
It’s also important you let your character shine through your bio too. Add in what interests you, or the style of work you do:
Beauty Journalist, @CityUniLondon Student, @GlamourUK Contributor. Lipstick is my life!
…is very different to…
Political Journalist, @CityUniLondon Student, @GlamourUK Contributor. Youth voters are the future!
By indicating your career and personal interests, you give like-minded users and employers more reason to follow you.
4. Nurture your networks
So, you’ve defined who you are, the job you want, and connected with the right people. Now you need to nurture your networks with relevant content.
If you’re in a career that would usually require a portfolio, such as a photographer or a web developer, it’s essential you create a website that showcases past projects. You can then share this content on a fairly regular basis, and keep connections up-to-date with the work you do.
Similarly, if you’re looking to be a thought-leader in your field, a blog can enhance your reputation greatly. By giving your opinion on specific subjects, you will position yourself as knowledgeable and confident in your work. Blogging can also lead to PR-worthy opportunities, such as featuring in the press or being interviewed for radio.
If neither of these appeal, there’s still opportunity to share compelling news stories, articles, and information on your channels. This will colour your character as much as it will elevate your reputation, and keep you at the front of your clients’, contacts’, and colleagues’ minds.
5. Connect with the game changers
Now you need to connect with the right people. Just as you would mingle with people at a networking event, you need to search for the employers you aspire to work for, and follow their updates.
Each platform does this differently – on LinkedIn, you can follow businesses and/or personal profiles, whereas on Twitter you can follow individuals.
As well as posting your own content, make sure to follow the updates of leaders in your field and potential exciting connections, and engage with what they post.
In a sea of people shouting about new discoveries, commenting and conversing about someone’s update is much more memorable than simply shouting alongside them!