Branding yourself may seem daunting, but if you break it down into steps improving your personal brand becomes far more manageable. These ten tips will walk you through the actions necessary to discover and implement the unique brand that is you.
Personal branding is simply the way you present and promote yourself. It's taking the combination of your skills, experience, interests, and passions and shaping them into the image you want the world to see.
You may not be an influencer talking about the latest trends or even an entrepreneur pitching your company or product, but that doesn't mean you aren't selling yourself. It might be in the pursuit of advancing your career, finding new employment, or even securing clients as a freelancer. It can also be as simple as wanting to gain a foothold in the finicky world of social media.
No matter what your ultimate goal might be, there are ways to get the best results as you promote yourself. Here are ten tips to help you launch and grow your personal brand.
1: What is your brand really?
The clearer you can be about who you are and what the image is that you want to present to the world, the better results you will have. Don't try to be too many things to too many people.
Ask yourself what makes you unique – or ask others who know you. Do you have a personal style? What do people remember about you? What do you bring to the table that nobody else can? What are your goals?
Remember that just because you don't include something as part of your brand, it doesn't mean it's not still part of you. Not telling people you collect miniature spoons doesn't take away from who you are. It doesn't need to be part of the brand you are creating to get the career of your dreams or sell yourself.
2: Who is your brand's audience?
This is a difficult one because your first reaction is most likely that you want to reach out to everyone. We often think that by casting the widest net, we will reach the most people.
The opposite can actually be true because without targeting a particular audience - whether it's entertainment, sales, or looking for employment - your brand and message will most likely go unnoticed and quickly disappear.
If you are looking to get a foothold in a specific industry, creating your audience in that area is vital. In fact, the more niche you can be when you brand yourself, the better.
If you are searching for a job in the tech sector, wouldn't it be better to narrow down the potential audience to people in that industry that can help you reach your goal versus just a wide general reach that gets lost in the countless postings, hashtags, and search results?
The more you can narrow down your audience, the more successful your personal brand will be. It's the same as in business. If you have a niche, you can sell to that group instead of wasting time on non-related potential audiences. For example, if you sell fishing poles, it makes more sense to center on people who fish versus just a general larger group that likes the outdoors. Using the same mindset, think of yourself as the product.
3: Follow others, learn from them, and interact with them
There are always going to be things you can learn from others and their personal brands. They may be in your industry or niche, or they may just be people who have learned the ins and outs of social media and branding.
Follow people who are in your niche or have an approach you like and pay attention to how they do things. It could be how to post better images, use hashtags properly, or the way to address specific industries or topics. Repost their articles. Don't send them odd requests for work or collaborations and be careful about "sliding into their DMs." If you do this properly, not only will you develop skills from them, but you will get noticed through genuine interaction, both by the person and others who know and follow them.
Also, you don't need to mimic or try the grand campaigns of some personal brands. Always remember that, like you, what is put out online is carefully crafted and thought-out. Often larger personal brands have a number of people or even a management or PR service working behind the scenes to create their brand. You can learn from them, but don't compare yourself.
4: What's your elevator pitch?
When you brand yourself, you don't just do it online. In person, you need to be able to sell yourself in a minute or less. Online, it may be only a few seconds before they click away from you. So you want people to understand you and your brand as quickly as possible. In a way, this is your "mission statement" of what you are and want.
Practice your "elevator pitch." Who are you, what are you looking for and what do you have to offer? The more you can get this down to a couple of sentences, the better you will be at selling yourself online and in person. It will also help you develop your online and digital presence because you'll be able to use it as a guideline to make sure your personal brand is staying on track with your core mission.
5: Make things all the same
A brand is a type of shorthand. It's a quick template people can refer to. One key metric of successfully branding yourself is quick recognition wherever people come across you. You want people to automatically know the person they are interacting with is the same one they saw on social media, websites, or even on your resume.
Unify your social media sites. While a logo might not be right for you, try to have the same usernames and emails throughout your various footprints. It will tie things together and add to your unified branding image. While you don't need to use the same profile image on each site, consider the ones that tie your brand together and do indeed look like you.
6: The professional side of your brand
Your brand and online footprint are representations of you. Be professional, especially when posting on a career-oriented site like LinkedIn. Be very careful about the content you post, and avoid posting controversial or potentially divisive things on the site. You may also want to consider staying away from this type of content on other sites as well.
Also, consider professional appearances when creating your emails and usernames. If you are still holding onto a funny email address you used when you were younger, it might be time to let it go and get something more professional.
The same goes for websites. Create a well-thought-out domain URL and use a site such as Wix to easily build a clean and professional-looking website that represents your brand and goals.
7: Be positive
Everyone has bad days, but don't wallow in failure. And don't be angry or call people out, especially not on social media. Project gratitude, professionalism, and a positive outlook, even when you may not be feeling it. Better to say nothing than show that darker side online. Never post knee-jerk content out of anger, either. Always consider and reconsider what you are going to put online.
Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson and other social media personalities have this down to a science. Johnson is constantly polite, grateful, and positive, and it shows in his branding. Even in the face of failures, Johnson finds the silver lining and refers to them as learning experiences. He also uses a tactic that works well by posting success stories and uplifting content. It's a great way to help develop a positive online reputation as well as grow your audience.
Consider posting events or situations that started out bad, but out of which you were able to create a positive. They could be personal, but don't get too involved. Or they could be a work-related situation that shows how you handled a problem and turned it around. This is an excellent opportunity to not only show your positive outlook but showcase your skills.
8: Be consistent
Once you have figured out who your audience is, be consistent with your message. If you are in the world of fitness, you probably don't want to veer off into another topic that is too far out of your niche. You are developing an audience that likes and expects certain things. Give them what they want, and you will see your reach and brand grow.
Also, be consistent in your posting on social media. Post every day, but make sure it's quality content. Consider apps such as Hootsuite to assist with your posting schedule.
9: Be authentic
We all know that the world is full of filtered and photoshopped images as well as people saying not what they think, but what they believe people want to hear.
You wouldn't fake your resume, so don't fake your brand or online presence. You will eventually be found out. If it isn't in the public forum, it might be during an interview or once you are hired, the truth could come out on the job, which could result in embarrassment if not outright dismissal.
Also, interact with your audience through comments. Be positive, interested, and grateful. You never know who they are or who is reading. Also, the more you interact with comments on social media, the more the algorithms will see it as a positive and will reward you and potentially spread your posts wider.
10: Put yourself out there
One last tip is to get yourself known. There's nothing wrong with sharing your expertise with the world.
Go on podcasts as a guest or find ways to have your story told through interviews and online articles. You can use websites such as PodcastGuests.com to find opportunities to appear on shows that cater to your audience. This also helps you with honing your presentation and pitch and learning more about what your brand really is.
Appearances work wonders to get your brand out there to new audiences. Plus, it creates content for you to use. You can post clips from appearances, announcements of shows, and more. In addition to the content, it shows that you are an expert in your field and sharing your experiences. All of this is in addition to the word being spread by the podcast or article creator.
Plus, the cumulation of these interviews adds to your brand's digital footprint. If you eventually reach a point where you decide to seek verification on one of the social media sites, these articles and interviews will create the foundation for certification.