By Mike Simpson
Please share this article by clicking the buttons below:
So you want to learn a little bit more about personal branding?
Well, in order to do that, start by taking a good look at what you’re wearing.
Odds are, you’ve got an article (or more) of clothing on with a logo on it.
What are those logos? Is it an easily identifiable ‘swoosh’ on your shoes? Maybe it’s the little embroidered alligator on the front of your shirt? How about your watch? Is there a logo on there?
Now look around you. What do you see?
What’s on that cardboard coffee cup you picked up this morning on your way into the office? I bet you it’s a green mermaid! How about your technology? Is there an ever present glowing fruit logo on the back of your laptop?
Each one is distinct and unique, and in our consumer driven world, instantly recognizable. As soon as you see a familiar logo you make a mental connection to the larger company overall.
You consciously (and often, unconsciously as well) make purchasing decisions based on your relationship to a company and their brand.
This is called corporate branding, and is the cornerstone of almost every successful corporation out there today.
But what is corporate branding exactly?
Corporate branding is the practice of promoting the overall brand name of a corporate entity (Nike, Tommy Hilfiger, Starbucks, etc.) rather than focusing on the specific products or services the corporation provides.
Sounds like fun, right?
So why don’t you get in on this branding action?
Why should corporations have all the branding fun? What if you were to sit down and brand yourself? In an increasingly difficult job market where there are thousands of qualified applicants vying for positions, it’s time to stand out from the crowd.
It’s time to create the brand that is you!
Now before you rush off and design a logo and start slapping it onto everything, we need to make sure you understand exactly what branding is, and how to make it work for you…not against you.
So what is personal branding?
Personal branding is a little less clear than corporate branding because it relies more on intangible concepts rather than physical products, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t any less important, especially in this day and age!
When you build your personal brand, you’re going to be taking your passions (what drives you), your key personal attributes and your strengths and rolling that all into a brief, clear, laser focused and targeted message that defines not only who you are, but how you’re different from everyone else.
It’s a way of making sure that you clearly communicate to your target audience exactly who you are, what you stand for, what makes you unique, and what value you can offer.
To boil it down even further, personal branding takes how you present yourself to those around you and refines it, allowing you to strengthen and market those unique desirable qualities that make you…well, you!
So how does personal branding relate to your career?
Like we said above, the job market these days is tough. There are thousands of incredibly talented and qualified people applying to the same jobs you are…and the best way to get hired is to stand out for the right reasons.
A solid personal brand carefully built can generate a connection with a hiring manager that not only helps get you into the interview, but help make the decision to hire you an easy one.
You want to build a brand that is true to you while at the same time attractive to both your current and prospective employers.
Right. Look, I get what you’re saying, but I don’t need personal branding. I’m amazing at what I do, my resume is killer and my cover letter is flawless.
Okay…that might be true…but let’s slip into a quick little scenario…and we’ll see just how important personal branding actually is.
Let’s pretend you’re a hiring manager with a media company.
You’ve narrowed down the field of candidates from hundreds to the top 5. You’ve brought them all in, one at a time, and interviewed them. They’re all great. They’re qualified, eager, and each one seems like a good fit.
So who do you hire?
Now in our scenario, you’re a good hiring manager, so rather than just randomly picking one and hoping for the best, you turn to the internet. You type in each candidate’s name and look at what pops up.
The first two candidates have no social media presence at all. The third candidate has an extensive social media presence but its’ all cat videos and recipes. The fourth candidate has a fairly impressive social media presence, but again, it’s all very personal posts.
You just want to find the right fit for the job, and although each candidate looks good on paper, there’s just something…missing. You type in the last candidate’s name and hit enter with a sigh…and then gasp.
Not only is their social media presence impressive, it’s relevant to the job. Candidate 5 even has a blog they’ve started on their own which has a clear voice and direction!
Your heart pounds as you scroll through months of posts and entries, each more impressive than the last. Not only is the blog well done, but it’s engaging and Candidate 5 has already built a solid following and interacts with readers regularly.
Their twitter feed is funny, targeted and on point and ties back into the blog flawlessly. It’s clear to see exactly who Candidate 5 is from their posts. You can get a sense of their personality, as well as what they value, based off of what you’re reading…and it’s all perfect for the job you’re trying to fill!
You throw a silent prayer of thanks heavenward as you reach for the phone. It’s time to offer Candidate 5 the job!
See how having a solid personal brand can make or break you in this day and age? Having a good resume and cover letter is a great way to start, but if you really want to see your job searching (and job getting) go to the next level, it’s time to start branding yourself…
Fine. I see what you’re saying. You have a point. But branding is so hard! Major corporations have entire teams of professional brand managers working for them. How am I going to be able to pull that off?
Branding Yourself: Building Your Personal Brand
First, take a deep breath and relax. We’re here for you…and have we ever steered you wrong? Of course not!
Believe it or not, branding yourself isn’t as hard as you might think…and to prove it to you, we’ve done all the hard work for you already! We’ve pulled together a quick and easy guide to help you jump start your own personal branding.
We’re going to walk you through what branding is, why branding works, and how to get your own personal brand started. All you need to do is follow along.
By the time we get done with this, you’ll be ready to not only declare yourself a brand, but you’ll know what that brand is, what your strengths and weaknesses are, and have all the information you need to set up your own personal branding website.
Wait, my own website? Seriously? Why do I need a website?
Whoa there, Nelly. We’re not there yet, but it is a good idea to plan the seeds now so you can start getting used to the concept.
In this day and age it’s increasingly necessary for individuals in the job market to utilize online platforms and personal websites to help get the attention of hiring managers and companies they’d like to work with and for.
More than ever these days hiring managers and employers are turning to the web to search for and recruit new talent and by not having your own website, you’re shutting yourself off from this new and emerging job market.
But don’t worry. We’re not to that step quite yet. We still have a ton of work to do figuring out just who you are.
This is so exciting! Okay, when do I get to start my own branding?
Well, how about right now?? Let’s go!
Once upon a time in the good old days job searches were easier. You had a resume you handed over, and after a quick interview and a handshake, you had a job.
Unfortunately times have changed and as the job market has become more difficult, it’s become more and more important to set yourself apart as an applicant…and that’s where personal branding comes into play.
There are three distinct stages to any modern job search/career where having well-crafted personal branding can play a huge role in helping advance you to the next level, and we’re going to quickly explore each of them in turn.
Applying for jobs
Hiring managers have mountains of resumes and cover letters to dig through and it’s dangerously simple to end up at the bottom of a pile…forgotten.
It’s simply too easy to be one in a million.
By using proper branding techniques and setting yourself apart from the crowd, you’re not just making yourself memorable…you’re also positioning yourself to be hired!
Interviewing for jobs
Congratulations on making it this far, but don’t rest on your laurels quite yet. Getting in the door is one thing…staying there is another!
By having your personal branding already established, you’re proving that not only do you want the job, but that you’re doing the hard work it takes to get that job, and you’re not even being paid for it…yet!
An interview is a great way to get a general idea about an applicant, but one who has spent the time and done the work for personal branding brings more to the interview than just a copy of their resume.
Advancing in a job (or your career)
You’re a great employee. You work hard, you’re always on time, and you’re well respected by those you work with…but you want more!
Rather than sit back and bask in the glory of what you’ve already accomplished, you’re hard at work making sure your branding stays current and up to date. You never know who is going to look at your personal website and see what you’re up to.
From internal promotions within your own company to outside opportunities with potential new employers, it’s always a good idea to keep your branding current.
Getting Started: How to Brand Yourself
Now that we’ve shown you just how important having a personal brand is to every stage of your career, it’s time to talk about how to create that brand.
The first thing you have to do is set some serious professional goals.
Why start with that?
Because goal setting is a great way to help you get a clear picture of what you ultimately want.
It’s also a way to look at what you’re doing right now to achieve those goals, and help identify any distractions that might be blocking your path to the successes you want.
Branding is more than just a slick personal website and some fancy business cards, it’s also a huge mental game. You have to believe in the brand that is YOU and goal setting is a great way to kick start that mental shift.
By identifying your goals, you’re helping to program your subconscious mind and activate your mental focus to help you achieve those goals.
Finally, goal setting is a great motivator. It’s easy to feel stalled out and overwhelmed in today’s fast-paced society. By writing down your goals, you’re giving yourself a reason to move past being stuck in a rut.
You’ve got an end-game to work towards…and sometimes that’s all the motivation you need to go from jogging in place to sprinting towards your prize!
As you make your list of goals, ask yourself these questions.
Where are you right now? Is it where you want to be? Is there something else you’d rather be doing career wise?
It can be as simple as a promotion in the company you’re currently with to something so big as a complete career change. The important thing is to figure it out and write it down.
Make a list. Break it down into categories.
What do you want right now? How about in a year? Five years? Ten?
Write them all down in chronological order, starting with the shortest term goals and ending with the longest term. Look at those goals and identify the common thread that runs through them all. This will help us as we focus on your brand later on.
Next, go through each goal and identify what obstacles you have to overcome before you can achieve them. What’s standing between you and your dreams?
4) Identify What You Need
Once you have that done, go through them again and this time, review each goal and determine what you need to make your goal become a reality.
Is it a specific skill? A lack of knowledge? What do you need to achieve your goal? More training? Taking classes or even going back to school for an advanced degree?
Remember, this is about branding YOU and that means investing in you as well. It’s easier to take the time to do this work now than down the road when you’ve already established your brand but find yourself coming up short when you go to deliver on your promises.
This step is a little tougher than the goal list because it’s going to require some serious introspection and reflection…as well as a little outside research and interaction with other people.
For this step you need to write down what you think your strengths are.
Next, ask your co-workers and your friends what they think your strengths are. You might be surprised what they have to say! Not only that, but this is going to give you a more realistic impression of what your strengths ACTUALLY are.
This isn’t just a fishing expedition for compliments. If they’re honest, they will tell you things about yourself you might not know that can really help you out! You might write down that you consider yourself to be a great team member and your co-workers might see you as potential leadership material.
You never know until you ask!
Next you want to try to identify the qualities and characteristics you feel set you apart from others. Remember, we’re branding you, so we need to figure out what it is that makes your brand better than your competitors.
Go back to your co-workers and even your friends and ask them what your greatest strengths are. Do you get comments from customers and/or clients? What have they said about you that is positive?
Ask yourself: what am I beyond my job title? What am I most proud of? What is it that I bring to the table and that makes me unique at what I do?
7) The Brand That Is You – In 2 Sentences (or less!)
Now that we’ve gathered all this information, it’s time to start turning it into the brand that is you and that starts with finding your personal branding statement!
A personal branding statement is a 1-2 sentence statement that clearly tells people who you are and what you stand for. It’s a quick way for people to know what it is that makes the brand that is you so important and unique and helps to clearly state what it is you represent.
Let’s go back to our corporate brands we were looking at earlier. Most of them have mottos that are quick and easy ways to identify what the company is all about. Can you identify what companies we’re talking about just by their branding below alone?
“Just do it.”
“Be all you can be.”
“Finger lickin’ good.”
How did you do? Did you get them all right?
Your branding statement has to do the same thing. Now, because you’re representing you and not a series of products, you can let your own personal branding statement be a little bit longer. Of course, if you can sum yourself up and everything you stand for into a short and sweet little sentence like the ones above, go for it!
Take a look at all the lists you’ve pulled together from the above section. Pay special attention to your goals and your strengths. These will help you build your unique promise of value and shape your branding statement.
Now, in two sentences or less (one is just fine!), who are you (and remember, it’s who…not just what…which is just your title), what do you do and what makes you unique in what you do?
I am an award winning back-end developer who specializes in providing my clients with vibrant, dynamic tailor-made apps.
I am a dedicated educator who strives to make learning approachable, “rewardable” and fun by stimulating the curiosity in all my students. My approach to education, which blends individual attention with interactive group activities, has increased student retention by over 30% and increased test results by 54%.
As an Executive Career Coach who utilizes holistic insight and innovative tools for self –discovery, I inspire people every day and help them transform them from “stuck” on the corporate ladder into forward-focused leaders who are on their way to the top.
Go ahead, give it a try! In two sentences (or less) who are you and what do you stand for? Once you figure that out, write it down and then post it somewhere (preferably in several places) where you can see it every day.
Remember, you are creating your brand and seeing it written down only helps to reinforce it.
The next step after creating your personal branding statement is to create your “elevator pitch“. An elevator pitch is a short, 30-60 second well crafted business pitch telling someone who you are and why they should want to hire you. We have written an in-depth blog post on how to craft one here.
Living Your Personal Brand Every Day
A big part of your personal branding is taking it and making it yours, and that means working it into your everyday world.
You have to live and breathe the brand that is you and that means from your head to your toes…including your wardrobe!
Remember, if you’re the brand, then how you look is a part of the “packaging.” Think about how you dress every day. Is your packaging a reflection of your brand?
Having your own personal ‘dress code’ is an easy way to help guide how others perceive you.
First impressions are lasting ones and by always presenting a look that is consistent with your brand, you can help guarantee that the first impression is the right one.
Styling your wardrobe to reflect who you are doesn’t mean you have to wear a ‘uniform.’ The key is to find a look that works for who you are, but is versatile enough to grow and mature just as you do.
Be aware of your accessories as well. Each and everything you put on and/or carry has to serve a purpose and that purpose is identifying who you are.
If your brand is all about polish and professionalism, you might want to consider ditching your old high school backpack and investing in a quality briefcase. Are you branding yourself as a youth oriented educator? A pinstripe suit might not be the best choice then.
Consider also the fit of what you’re wearing. Well-made and tailored clothes will say just as much about you as will badly constructed and baggy clothing. And don’t forget to buy an iron!
Along with what you wear, how you groom yourself is also important to your brand. Make sure to choose a hairstyle that fits your brand and don’t be afraid to change it as often as you need to make it work with what you’re projecting.
Proper personal grooming is also essential to building your brand. Make sure you’re putting the best you out there you possibly can every day…from head to toe.
Remember, above all, be authentic in who and what you are in relation to your brand.
Building Your Branded Tool Kit
You’ve got your goals written down, you’ve refined your personal branding statement and you’re even looking and dressing the part! Now we’re going to take those and start building your personal brand toolkit.
Tool kit? Like an actual tool kit? With hammers and screwdrivers and things like that?
No, we’re not being quite that literal, but like a real tool kit, your personal branding tool kit will be used to help you build…but instead of building things like birdhouses and skyscrapers, this tool kit will help you build your career.
In order to communicate your brand effectively, you’re going to have to get the word out to the world, and that’s where your tool kit comes into play.
Just like the literal tool kit we discussed above, your own personal branding tool kit is filled with the essentials…and we’re going to detail exactly what each one is and what you need to do to make it work for you!
Having business cards on you at all times is job hunting 101, but in the world of personal branding, it’s not enough to just have a piece of cardstock with your name on it.
A business card is a quick and easy physical reminder of who you are that you can leave behind with anyone. You never know when a chance meeting can turn into a future job, or client.
Business cards are a cheap, easy and effective way to make yourself visible.
The card should contain your picture, your personal brand statement, and your preferred contact information. You can have your cards either professionally designed (our suggestion) or design your own…as long as the information is correct and up to date and reflects you and your brand.
Make sure you always keep a few extras in your wallet, purse, car —anywhere you can grab one in a hurry and pass your info along. In the event you find yourself sans card (gasp!) there are also several mobile phone apps that allow you to upload your designs and share them digitally.
Hang on…before we go one step further, you need to do something…and you need to do it right now.
Go to your computer and Google yourself (or Bing, or Yahoo, or whatever search engine you prefer…we don’t care…as long as you DO IT!).
Did you do it? Good! What came up?
Is it stuff you’re okay with being out there for everyone and anyone to see? Is it ‘professional’ or is it page after page of embarrassing photos?
This is your digital reputation, and if you’re seeing it, that means anyone who searches for you is going to see it too…including hiring managers, recruiters, clients, your mom…the list goes on.
Cleaning up your online presence can be a daunting task. There are plenty of websites out there that can help walk you through this process. You can even set up Google Alerts and have it send you a message whenever your name appears in a new search result in order to keep on top of what other people can see when they search your name.
While you’re Googling yourself, take a look at how all your social media profiles might appear to a recruiter as well.
Of course, you can option to keep those private and set things like Facebook to restricted statuses that only allow close friends and those you approve access to them, but if you’re thinking of using your social media as a part of your branding (and we strongly encourage you to do so) then you have to be aware of how they reflect on who you really are.
Profanity, explicit language, drug and alcohol use, photos of compromising situations—all these things (and many many more) can be serious red flags for any potential hiring manager who looks at your social media accounts.
Be sure to go through and review what you have posted. Take a serious look at your postings, animations, pictures, profile information…everything and anything, and look at it through the eyes of a potential employer.
If you’re happy with what you see (or at the very least, comfortable) then continue on.
As one of the largest social media sites in the world, Facebook is a great way to spread awareness about your brand.
Facebook lets you instantly share with anyone a whole range of information – the ability to connect your profile to other sharing platforms like Twitter, Instagram, and others makes it easy to find, post and spread things like your photos, your interactions with your friends and acquaintances, your ideas, opinions, likes, dislikes, what music you listen too, books you read, shows you watch—even causes you care about and charities you donate to.
It’s in many ways a digital snapshot of who you are..which is why you have to be so careful with what you post.
Using Facebook as part of your personal branding means keeping a careful and constant eye on it.
No, you don’t have to be logged in 24 hours a day waiting to see what people are posting to your page, but it does mean making sure you have some safeguards in place.
Some quick fixes to make sure you’re only displaying what you want potential recruiters and hiring manager to see include turning off the option for others to tag you in photos and adjusting your privacy settings.
You might want to consider setting up a second Facebook account which you can use for personal contacts.
You probably don’t want to unfriend Crazy Grandpa Moe and his slightly off color remarks…but it might be a good idea to make sure the CEO of your dream company doesn’t stumble across his posts as well.
As far as professional networking sites go, you can’t beat LinkedIn. Recruiters use LinkedIn because of the ease of access to work and employment specific information it makes readily available.
Many of the rules we posted above for Facebook apply here. Keep your photo professional and your information current. Make sure your resume, work history, cover letters and reference lists are correct and accurate.
It’s amazing how much information you can put into 140 characters! Because Twitter is so easy to update, it’s a great way to keep your followers appraised of your every move.
Use it wisely, though. Posting random bits of nonsense might seem like you’re being productive, but it’s far better to post one quality post a day. Keep your posts engaging, on topic and targeted.
Go through your follow list carefully and remember to surround yourself with people you’d like to work with that reinforce your brand.
There are many other social media platforms out there, including sites like Tumblr, Instagram, YouTube, Delicious, Digg, Reddit, Stumbleupon…the list continues to grow each and every day.
Rather than devote the rest of this article to each and every one of them, we wanted to cover the three biggest. Just keep in mind, no matter the platform the rules are all generally the same…your brand is a reflection of you and the best way to make sure potential employers are impressed with what they see is to make sure you’re always putting your best foot, and face forward.
While you’re cleaning up all your social media, it might be a good time to clean up your email address as well. Sure, Happybunny13@email.com was great in high school, but now that you’re a professional, it might be time for your email to grow up as well.
Consider getting a Gmail account as it works so seamlessly with Google and GTalk. Your email should be a clear reflection of who you are and make it easy for people to get in touch with you.
Emails like firstname.lastname@example.org are easy to remember and are clean and professional. Keep Happybunny13 for your personal emails.
Social Media Cover Letter/Resume
We’ve already done a few posts on making sure your paper resume and cover letter are 100% up to snuff (which you are more than welcome to review by clicking the links) but in the world of personal branding, we’re going to take it one step further…and make your info social media friendly…and that means taking them online!
In situations where you’re unable to meet your potential employer in person and hand off your paperwork to a real, living, breathing human (increasingly rare in this computer age) it’s more important than ever to make sure that you’re doing everything you can to avoid getting lost in the digital crowd.
Submitting your resume blindly online can feel a bit like tossing it into a deep, dark, and seemingly bottomless hole. You hit send, cross your fingers, and then usually never hear anything back.
Resumes that are social media friendly are a great way to help attract hiring managers to you, rather than trying to work the equation the more traditional, other-way around.
Unfortunately, you’ll still have to send your resume out and submit it blindly to different websites…at least in the beginning, but if you build up your own social media friendly resume and do it the right way, those blind submissions will become fewer and fewer.
The idea is to create a resume that contains not only your traditional work history elements, but also various multimedia elements, sharing options and integrated social networking feeds in such a way that the resume becomes not just a resume, but a billboard that reflects and advertises your personal brand.
In essence, you want your social media resume to be so dynamic that it becomes easily accessible through searching, sharing and distributing. You want your social media resume to do three things for you:
- Accurately represent who you are as a brand.
- Showcase your talents and abilities as well as what you’re looking for in a job
- Attract recruiters, hiring managers and work opportunities to you rather than you going out to them!
Posting your information on the above mentioned social media sites is a great way to get started, but if you really want to blow recruiters and hiring managers out of the water and ensure your spot on their list of desirable new hires, you have to put your resume on its very own individual platform…and that is where our next topic comes into play…
We’ve saved the biggest, and in many ways, most important part of your tool kit for last…the personal website.
Your personal website is going to be your single biggest and best way to get the brand that is you out there for the world to see. Having your own webpage/website that you create and control means that you can personally guarantee that it is a 100% accurate reflection of your brand, beliefs and values.
In essence, it is the most you branded thing out there, which is why you have to make sure you’re very careful about how you set it up.
Having your own website means the only limit to what you can post is what you can think up. It’s a platform for you to be able to showcase exactly who you are. You can build websites that allow you to post almost anything you can imagine.
Are you an aspiring journalist or newscaster? Why not post interviews and stories you’ve done with people in the past?
Are you an educator? Use your website to post tutorials and instructional videos detailing how you’ve done something or teaching people new skills.
Are you a blogger? Increase your views and followers by integrating podcasts and inviting your listeners to participate.
Personal websites are also a great way to share what others think of you. Invite past clients and coworkers to submit testimonials for you. Having your past clients interact with you not only helps to build a reputation for your brand through honest feedback, but it also helps to spread awareness of who you are.
People love to talk about themselves and share what they’ve done. If you’ve got a solid website that is engaging and encourages interaction, you’ll naturally increase your viewership.
The more you get people involved, the more likely they are to share what you’re doing with their friends, family and clients…and once those people are engaged, can also share your site.
It’s a process that, if you cultivate it carefully and maintain your brand integrity, can increase your visibility exponentially over time. Of course, that also works in the negative as well which is why it’s so important to make sure your interactions are positive.
You can also expand your digital footprint by integrating your social media profiles into your website. By using badges and links, you can easily blend all your social media accounts into your personal website.
This linking not only gives you a bigger area of influence, but helps people to find you as they link to and from your page from other sources and sites.
But what do I know about websites? I can’t do this! This is too hard! Too much pressure! I’m so intimidated!
Are you starting to hyperventilate with fear at the thought of coding and building your own website?
Don’t worry! It’s not as hard as you might think.
In fact, there are plenty of site builder programs out there that take the hard work out of putting your info online and we’re here to help you choose the one that is right for you and have even set up a whole separate article for you on just what you need to do to get started…in less than ten minutes! Amazing!
Common Personal Branding Mistakes
Now that we’ve covered the basics of personal branding, let’s quickly touch on the most common personal branding mistakes to avoid.
Branding without Thinking
The fastest way to fail at branding yourself is to rush into it and not put thought into each and every step. If you skip a step or blow through a process, you run the risk of missing a critical component of what makes you and your brand unique.
The ultimate goal of branding is to end up doing what you love and getting paid to do it, but that takes a lot of time, a little bit of luck and some serious networking in the right direction.
Rushing through your branding might mean you miss out on including a piece of information that could help get you where you want to be.
Branding out of Order
It’s tempting to jump straight into the online stuff, or to skip around and work this out of order, but trust us when we tell you we’ve put this into a specific order that is guaranteed to make your branding process smooth.
If you rush into one part and overlook another, you might find yourself later on down the road wondering where you went wrong. It’s hard to build a website all about you and your brand if you haven’t finished clearly defining who you are!
Not Being Authentic About Who You Are
And speaking of who you are…remember, nobody likes fakes!
If you brand yourself as something you’re not, you run the risk of being exposed as an imposter and losing the trust of those around you. A big part of branding is defining what you value as an individual and what you stand for.
If you have a hard time committing to ideals or fulfilling your promises, your brand will seem hollow and cheap. That can make people see you as untrustworthy and false. Similarly, if your brand relies on opinions or convictions, make sure you really believe them before you start asking others to believe you.
Part Time Branding
Creating and maintaining your personal brand isn’t something you do part time. It isn’t something you only work on once a month or so. It’s something you have to be conscious of and aware of all the time.
By working on your branding every day, you’re ensuring that your information is current. Also, by ensuring that your branding is a part of your conscious thought process, you’re much less likely to slip up and make a mistake online that might have consequences either immediately or down the road.
Always think about every action you take and how that will affect your overall brand and your ability to achieve your goals. A single badly written blog or negative exchange on a public social media post might seem small, but when it comes to branding, no action is insignificant.
It’s far easier to avoid a mistake than have to clean up after one.
Quantity over Quality
The idea is to make sure that your brand is not only authentic and engaging, but that everything you put out is quality. Whether we’re talking about blog posts, Facebook updates, business cards and resumes distributed, sometimes more isn’t better.
Make sure you’re putting though and intention into everything you’re doing. It’s far more important to have one meaningful connection than hand out 100 business cards that all get thrown away.
Using Branding to Get Famous
You’re not a Kardashian, or a Hilton…at least not yet. You can’t expect that branding yourself is going to lead automatically to internet stardom.
Branding isn’t about becoming rich and famous and getting your name out there, rather it’s about making sure that you control what is out there. Branding is about making sure that people get to know the genuine, authentic you (see the above bullet “Not Being Authentic About Who You Are” if you need clarification).
Being Your Own Island
Yes, personal branding is all about you, but at the same time it isn’t. Building up your brand means reaching out to those around you for help, guidance, honest opinions, and support.
Branding is all about networking and by reaching out to those around you that you admire and respect, you are also building up your own brand. Try to always surround yourself with people who believe in your brand and who are likeminded.
Not Taking Your Brand Online
It’s tempting to do just half of this branding process, especially if you have any hesitations about going online or have no experience building a personal website, but trust us when we say, you’ll only be shooting yourself in the foot.
We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again, this is a digital world and the job market is moving from the back pages of the newspaper and word of mouth to smack dab in the middle of the internet…and if you’re not there to be a part of it, you’re going to get left in the dust.
So start with a personal website as a “hub” for everything that is you, online.
Forgetting To See Where You Are
Personal Branding is only as good as your exposure and network. You could have the most amazing personal website ever, but if nobody’s looking at it, then it doesn’t matter.
A quick way to see how your brand is doing is to utilize online analytical tools. Not only will it give you a quick measure of how things are going, it can help you decide to focus on what is working and drop what isn’t.
I know, I know. We’ve thrown a ton of stuff at you in this article, but trust us, it’s all for a good reason. We’ve given you a ton of instructions and a ton of tools and now it’s time for you to start figuring out who you are and putting that personal branding into action!
We suggest reading this whole article again…and maybe even a third time before you officially start your own branding process. Remember, personal branding isn’t something you should rush into.
It takes a lot of time to really hone down who you are and what you stand for and making sure you’re answering every question authentically will only help get you there.
The goal is to zone in on the “you” (your brand) that most accurately represents who you are, what your goals are and showcases your strengths and unique qualities.
And as a reminder, when it comes time to build your own personal website, makes sure you put just as much effort into that as you have every other step.
Once you’ve established your brand, you’ll need to keep working to project a strong, authentic and consistent brand identity.
Always remember that actions speak louder than words — be sure to follow through on the promises associated with your brand every day with everyone you encounter.
For example, if you brand yourself as a hard-working and reliable person, coming in late or neglecting your work at your current job doesn’t help to reinforce your brand image.
Also remember that as time goes on, things will change, including you. Your brand will need to be flexible as you move between various positions and career paths as well as life milestones and accomplishments, so don’t be afraid to make changes to your brand as needed.
Locking yourself into an aging brand just because you’re reluctant to change or too lazy to do the work it requires can be just as detrimental to your career as not branding at all.
Along with changes in your brand come changes in your goals. As you accomplish them, make sure to reexamine what’s coming up next.
Always celebrate and share your current victories, especially with those people who have helped you, but don’t forget to also keep your long term goals in sight as well. It’s important to not only assess your brand from time to time but to also reevaluate where you’re ultimately headed.
Some parts of your brand that were once relevant may need to be updated; refreshing your brand identity can help you build new relationships and potentially continue to advance your career.
And as always, good luck!