Creating a strong personal brand is arguably the most important step in self-marketing. Make sure you're doing it correctly.
How is your personal brand looking these days?
You may have never considered yourself a brand, but the truth is that we all are our own brand, constantly projecting a certain image of ourselves to the world.
Keep in mind, however, that branding isn’t about you; it’s about what you are offering to other people.
Craft your personal brand to tell the world, “I have this set of skills, and here’s what I can do for you.” Here are some ways to make that clear.
Maintain an Active Social Media Presence
There are two main schools of thought regarding personal branding.
Some professionals believe in the value of maintaining entirely separate social media accounts to ensure that their personal posts go only to people they know personally (and vice versa for their professional/public posts).
Others believe that consolidating personal and professional social media accounts is just fine as long as they strive to maintain a healthy balance in the type of content they post.
One benefit of the latter approach is that it appeals to your audience by adding the human touch, showing that you are a person too with humor, insight, and personal interests.
Focus on Quality Over Quantity
People don’t like to be bombarded with posting for the sake of posting.
It gets old very quickly and they feel like they’re being talked at rather than being talked to, which is no way to win friends and influence people.
Brand yourself as a genuine individual, putting time and thought into the things you post.
In doing so, you’ll show your readers that you respect their time and intellect as much as you do your own.
Additionally, find ways to creatively spin the mundane, making yourself easily discoverable online while simultaneously appealing to the people searching for you.
Some tips for doing this include:
Maintaining consistency across platforms:
A good rule is to use the same version of your name, as well as the same profile photo, across all your social media platforms.
This builds consistency within your brand and helps avoid confusion for people trying to find you online.
Additionally, when uploading your photo to a site, make it a habit to label the photo file first with your name for good SEO.
This increases the chance that your photo will appear in the image results when people search for you on Google.
Tailoring your out-of-office messages:
Add a personal touch to your email “away” message when you’re out of the office.
Try saying something like, “I’ll be unavailable until X date; in the meantime, you can keep up with me on [Twitter personal link].”
Of course, this message can be tweaked to match the feel of your personal brand better. The point is that it can give people a way to “bite” and see what you’re up to, making you more approachable.
They’ll feel they are dealing with someone who’s an actual person with human interests, not a cold business robot.
Monitoring your online presence:
What comes up when you Google your name? If you haven’t yet begun, now is a great time to make sure you rank high in the first page of search results.
If you have a delightfully unusual name like “Saoirse Bonaventure,” you’ll likely have no problem securing the top spot in the Google results if you consistently use your full name online.
However, it can admittedly be trickier if your name is more common, yielding search results for dozens of other people who share the same moniker.
To help yourself stand out more from the crowd, you can try including your middle name online, or simply your middle initial.
Monitoring your overall Internet presence is also important. Shama Hyder at Forbes suggests setting up Google Alerts for your name to learn where your name is appearing online, allowing you to keep track of your online reputation.
With a little tweaking and conscious effort, you can build and maintain your personal brand.
Investing even a small amount of time can pay off richly down the road, so take a few minutes regularly to audit your personal brand and make improvements where necessary.