With the chance that you will have more than one career over your lifetime and your education and qualifications counting for far less than they used to, a personal brand is a great way to show people what you are about, tying in all the experiences you’ve had, and promote yourself to potential employers and customers.
But where do you start? Here are 5 steps to help you to identify what your personal brand should be about:
1. Identify your Area of Expertise
Finding your area of expertise can be a difficult operation, so an easy way to get started is to ask yourself some questions:
- What do people say that you are good at?
- What do you enjoy in your professional and personal life?
- What do you read about most often online? What do you like learning about and sharing with others?
- Will you still be interested in this particular area six months or a year from now?
You can then hone in on what you enjoy and develop a name and a niche for yourself. For example, enjoying your day to day job as an HR manager is not enough, but you could focus on your ability to nurture new talent, create team leaders within organisations or sharing with others how you break into the role and what day-to-day life is like for school leavers.
2. What are your Objectives?
Why are you building a personal brand? What do you hope to achieve when people search for your name? What do you want them to see? Some reasons may include:
Differentiating Yourself From Competitors
With 118 applicants for every full-time position, you might want your personal brand to be tip top so you are more likely to receive job opportunities through social media sites such as LinkedIn.
You might want to use your personal brand to help clients find out about you and what your company does so that they can buy your services.
You might want more consumers to find out about you so you can sell more of your products.
3. Who are Your Audience?
Knowing your audience means that you can tailor your message to suit them and their needs. Think about:
- Your customer’s age and what language they use
- What kind of voice you want to build (formal, informative, personal, chatty etc).
- What your competitors are doing - what you like about them and what you are going to do differently
- What are you trying to achieve and what are you doing (digital marketer, HR specialist, selling personalised stationery to freelancers etc).
- Who is your target market? Who are you going to benefit from most?
4. Develop Your Core Message
Create a brief mission statement that identifies who you are, what you do and what you stand for. Take some time to study other people with similar messages online and try to find your own unique view on your area of expertise.
5. Reinvent your Personal Brand as you Grow
As your industry changes and your career evolves your personal brand will as well. This means that you’ll need to adjust your message and objectives accordingly, to reflect your new persona.
5 Tips to Help you put your Personal Brand into Practice
As well as identifying what your personal brand is all about, you also need to put it into practice, and here are some quick and easy wins to help you get your persona out there.
1. Research your Industry and Follow their Experts
Find out who the thought leaders are in your industry and follow them online, reply to their comments and read their blogs. If you are looking to create a similar persona, use your favourite accounts as a template for what you want to achieve, examine what they are doing and how they are doing it, and imitate the aspects you think will be useful for you.
2. Grow your Online Presence
With social media ubiquitous in society, there’s no getting away from having an online presence, and it is one of the best ways and easiest ways to convey who you are. Check out our Using Social Media to Build your Personal Brand blog to find out how you can take your social media to the next level and engage with others in your field, hiring managers and colleagues.
3. Be Authentic
With a crowded field of personal brands it can be difficult to stand out, but one aspect that you can leverage to set you apart from the crowd is what is unique about you. You have your own story, your own journey and your own experience that no one else can compete with. As a newcomer, you can especially use this to your advantage and communicate your career journey, road to freelance or self-employment with others. Others will be interested to follow you on this journey, be proud of your development and achievements when they come along and learn about the industry with you.
4. Ask for Recommendations
An easy way to communicate your value is to get others to endorse you by gaining recommendations from current and former colleagues and managers. This means that they do all the hard word for you, illustrating your strengths and ability to perform your role and the knowledge you have of your industry.
LinkedIn is the best place to ask for these recommendations as they’ll likely catch the eye of future hiring managers and ideal head hunters.
5. Remember that your Personal Brand is not just Online
As well as having an online presence, personal branding also involves how you communicate in your workplace and in other aspects of your life. On occasion, take a step from your work and ask yourself whether you are acting in a way that’s congruent with your preferred persona. Are you taking the helm enough? Are you being civil? Are you listening to your colleagues? Are you working in a timely manner? If you are not living up to your brand in certain areas, or you’d like to strengthen other aspects, now’s the time to reenergise and refocus.