Building A Personal Brand — How to Get Started
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In this post we’re looking at personal branding from the perspective of a beginner’s mind. Forget what you think you know, Grasshopper, and we’ll look at the steps to building a personal brand with fresh eyes.
Definition and importance of personal branding
Personal branding is who you are and what you stand for. It encompasses the values that people associate with you. It’s your reputation, in short.
Tina Turner’s personal brand, for instance, is of a dynamic, persevering performer who defined several eras of music. It’s also said that she taught Mick Jagger to dance.
Tina didn’t necessarily set out to build her brand, but it came with the territory. For the rest of us, building a personal brand is a way to let people know who we are. It’s a calling card.
The benefits of building a strong personal brand
Imagine people hearing or seeing your name or the name of your company or business and immediately associating it with qualities like “integrity,” “world-building,” and “awesome products.” Half of your work is done.
Understanding Personal Branding
What is a personal brand?
A personal brand is the ways and means in which you communicate who you are as an individual or company. It’s key to expressing what you stand for to potential clients, business partners, employees, and colleagues. It can also help you manage your reputation and establish yourself as a thought-leader and expert in your field.
Why is personal branding crucial in today’s digital age?
Today, when people can find out about you through a Google search at the drop of a hat, it’s important to curate your personal brand in a way that makes maximum impact. Fortunately, there are countless tools, not to mention blog posts, to instruct you on how to build your personal brand.
The impact of a strong personal brand on career opportunities and professional growth
A strong personal brand can lead to growing your social and business network.
When you are recognized as someone who is an expert in their field, more people will look to you for input, feedback, and leadership.
Sara Blakely is an example of someone with a strong personal brand on social media.
Steps to Building Your Personal Brand
1. Self-Reflection and Defining Your Brand
Identifying your values, passions, and unique qualities: Sit down with a pen and paper. Not later, now. Quickly jot down your values, passions and unique qualities. What makes you stand out from the crowd? What makes you or your company a unique proposition?
Assessing your strengths and areas for improvement: This might be tough for some people. Assessing your strengths and areas that need improvement can seem daunting. No one likes to feel vulnerable. But admitting where you are weak is the first step to improving yourself. And this will lead to a better, stronger brand.
Developing a personal mission statement: Next, define your mission statement. What do you want to accomplish with your company or business? Do you want to save the world or sell plastic shoes with holes in them or wire the world on a new energy drink?
Monster Energy Drink’s mission statement.
2. Establishing Your Online Presence
Creating a professional website or blog: As mentioned above, personal branding is especially important in the digital age. Fortunately there are countless tools you can use to establish your online presence and with it, your brand.
A professional website, whether you DIY it or hire a professional, gives you the opportunity to demonstrate your skills and experience. Adding a blog to the website or writing one independently is another way to build your personal brand.
If you’re worried about creating content for the blog there are many guides and tips on coming up with new posts. You can also hire professional blog-writers to ghost-write posts, or invite other professionals in your field to contribute.
Optimizing your social media profiles: Make sure these are up to date. Use professional photos. This is especially important on LinkedIn, where you are more likely to attract professionals in your industry.
Curating and sharing relevant content: Before you post, ask yourself: who is this valuable to? Whenever you publish new content, it should be relevant to your audience.
3. Crafting Your Brand Story
Identifying your target audience: Your target audience might be fellow industry professionals, potential customers or even potential hires. Ask yourself who is most likely to be interested in your project or who you want to tailor your project for.
Creating a compelling narrative around your personal brand: What made you start your business? What life experiences led you to who you are today? What are some of the obstacles and challenges you faced that your audience might relate to?
These are some of the questions to ask when crafting your brand story.
Showcasing your expertise and achievements: Whether your business has doubled in size since inception or you won the award for #1 salesperson in your region, these are all ingredients that you can showcase in telling your brand story.
The sister-run business Dannijo is an example of strong story-driven branding.
4. Consistency and Branding Elements
Designing a cohesive visual identity (logo, colors, fonts): We are visual creatures, and a cohesive visual identity is important in attracting eyeballs, whether those of customers, the workforce, or other business leaders. The right combination of logo, brand colors and font are quick and easy ways to establish a visual identity for your brand.
Maintaining consistency in your messaging and tone of voice: If, in one blog post or LinkedIn story, you are cracking jokes about your mother-in-law and in the next you are writing an op-ed about law enforcement budgets, you are going to confuse your audience. To quote Neil Young, “Don’t spook the horse” — be consistent in your messaging and tone.
Building trust through authenticity and transparency: Own up when you make a mistake. Let people know how the sausages are made. Don’t pretend to be something you’re not. People appreciated authenticity and transparency, especially when social media makes it easy to wear a mask.
5. Networking and Building Relationships
Engaging with industry peers and thought leaders: Building a personal brand goes a long way to establishing relationships and enabling more networking with peers. If people feel like they already know you and what you’re about thanks to your online presence, it will be easier to connect with them. Engaging with industry peers and thought leaders is, after all, a primary reason to create a persona brand.
Attending conferences, events, and meetups: Besides the perks of meeting fellow industry professionals, attending conferences, events and meetups offer opportunities to build your personal brand even more. Take advantage of every invitation that shows up in your inbox to take your personal brand show on the road.
Photo by Matthew Osborn on Unsplash
Leveraging social media for professional networking: You can use social media for professional networking by reaching out via comments and sharing on your various channels. By leaving comments and sharing others’ content you are showing your appreciation for their own personal brand. You can also learn a lot about how to build your personal brand from how industry leaders whom you respect are building theirs.
6. Providing Value and Sharing Expertise
Creating and sharing valuable content (blogs, videos, podcasts): We already mentioned sharing, but it bears repeating that posting others’ content — blogs, videos, and/or podcasts — can be beneficial to forming your personal brand. Ensure that the content aligns with your values and your target audience.
Demonstrating expertise through thought leadership: If you are the type of business leader who follows trends and keeps up with what is happening in your industry, then sharing this type of information can position you as a leader. Thought leadership is a valued quality in this day and age, when so-called experts are putting up their digital shingles all the time.
Engaging with your audience and responding to feedback: Keep in touch with your audience by responding to their comments. Never ignore negative feedback. Responding with reasonable and considered answers will bolster your personal brand.
Maintaining and Evolving Your Personal Brand
The importance of continuous growth and adaptation: Your personal brand is not static. Rather, it is an ever-shifting identity that requires maintenance.
Strategies for managing and protecting your online reputation: Keep an eye on what others are doing in your industry, on changes in the ever-shifting tools on social media, and in your target audience’s viewing, buying, and communication habits to maintain and evolve your personal brand.
Leveraging feedback and analytics to refine your personal brand: Use analytics on various channels to check on which posts are connecting with your target audience and the kind of feedback they get. Set a goal for how many followers you want to reach and the peers you want to connect with. If you’re not getting the response you want, adjust accordingly.
That’s a wrap
Building your personal brand is a crucial part of business, if not life. Begin with a values and mission statement, decide who your target audience is, figure out the best ways to reach them and allocate your resources. See what others in your industry are doing and follow best practices.
There is no better time to start building your personal brand than right now. The sooner you start, the sooner you’ll start to see big pay-offs. We are in the age of personal branding, and you don’t want to be the last person on Myspace.