What comes to mind when you hear the term personal branding?
Many people think of social media influencers, coaches, authors, or public speakers when they hear the term personal branding, but it has expanded to include everyone from employees to CEOs and executives. When it comes down to it, personal branding is merely the digitization of reputation — let that sink in.
In the age of digital media, your personal brand could make or break your career, and with over 2 billion social media users in the world, standing out from the crowd is no easy task. Every day, the speed and scale at which information is being shared grows, making it seem increasingly difficult to keep up with the status quo.
Why is this important? Whether you like it or not, perception is reality in today’s world. The story you tell online can open or close doors before you even know they’re there. That’s why we’ve put together 5 easy ways to jumpstart your personal brand. It’s complicated, and the oversaturated digital landscape is challenging to navigate alone when you’re trying to create a personal brand, so buckle up and get ready to take your career to the next level!
Audit Your Current Brand
Before you get started, you need to evaluate where you are. Run a quick Google search of your name and see what comes up. It’s a good idea to see what is already being said about you or your brand before going further. You may consider turning on Google alerts for your name so that you can be notified any time people are talking about you online.
As you evaluate, try to have an objective point of view and determine which consistent themes appear alongside your name. This is your current brand identity. If you don’t have a large social media footprint, you can start small by ensuring you have an up-to-date, professional headshot. You should also take time to list your most recent work experience on LinkedIn.
Did you know 91% of executives use LinkedIn as a source for content? That’s all the reason you need to make sure your LinkedIn is up to par!
Create a Personal Brand Statement/Have a Focus
For years, companies have created personal brand statements to help guide them by defining who they are and why they do what they do. As an example, Coca-Cola’s brand statement reads, To refresh the world. To inspire moments of optimism and happiness. To create value and make a difference.
Can you see the value that crafting a meaningful brand statement has? To be honest, we expected nothing less from a brand as huge as Coke, right? Coca-Cola has had decades to perfect its brand statement, and it shows.
Writing one of these takes time as well as the ability to assess your brand and see its strengths. What are you passionate about? What makes you great? We all have unique superpowers, but it can be difficult to see these ourselves sometimes. Don’t be afraid to ask a close friend this question if you have trouble. Someone who knows you will be able to describe what makes you great.
When you think you’re ready to take a swing at writing your personal brand statement, consider combining these three elements: the value you create, who you’re creating it for, and the expected outcome. Keep in mind that your brand statement should evolve over time as you and your brand do. With time comes more experience and therefore more value you can bring to the world.
Many people fall into the trap of trying to be everything for everyone. They try to stretch themselves too thin and lose focus of what they set out to do or even what their brand statement says. Decide what your core message is and stick to it, even as your brand statement evolves over time. Keeping your message focused on your target demographic will make it much easier to create content around your personal brand over time.
Join In 200 Million+ On The Journey to Greatness
Don’t get it mixed up — authenticity doesn’t mean sharing every thought you have with everyone all of the time. People use various social media platforms to document every single thing that happens to them, and while it is important to keep your followers up to date on important changes and events, this is not what being genuine means. Being genuine means standing by your values and principles and saying what you truly mean.
Never underestimate people’s ability to see right through a disingenuous act. We are all constantly scrolling and seeing people put on fake performances for their social media followers, and as a result, we have become acutely aware of the differences between authentic and inauthentic behavior. If you’re being genuine, managing your personal brand will be so much easier.
You will not have a brand without a group of people who recognize it, so it’s critical that you invest enough time and effort into your network through authentic conversation. You don’t have to shake the hand of every person — even replying to comments on Instagram or Twitter can go a long way. Social media has given us the opportunity to create an amazing platform, but you have to put in the effort to take full advantage of that opportunity. After all, it’s not about getting a million followers on social media, it’s all about the reputation you have with the followers you already have.
Tell a Story
If your personal brand isn’t telling a story, you’re going to be fighting an uphill battle. It is absolutely essential that your personal brand tells a story that your audience can engage with. No one wants to listen to one person shout about their brand into the void of cyberspace, so you should create an honest narrative about your brand that appeals to your audience. One of the most effective ways to tell that story is through video or written content. Don’t be afraid to use your smartphone to record a video message for your clients and create a personal connection.
How do you build trust? We trust people we can see, that’s why a lot of the time we see celebrities as trustworthy even if we don’t know their real names. Familiarity makes us feel like we know someone even if we don’t. You trust the barista who makes your coffee every morning more than a stranger walking down the street, don’t you?
That’s because you see their face on a consistent basis. By addressing your audience in a video message where they can see your face, you’re familiarizing yourself with them. This is also why social media is so beneficial in building your brand. Through it, you are providing your audience with the ability to see you, be entertained by you, and get to know you.
In addition to telling your story, you should also be providing your audience with regular updates about your brand. Did you just receive a new certification in your profession? Share it with your audience on LinkedIn or elsewhere!
However, you should check out other mediums to see if they’re better suited to your brand’s needs. Do you like sharing short bursts of information with your followers? Twitter might be the best option for you. Maybe you feel more comfortable and effective speaking out loud than you do with written content. Well, who better than us to recommend starting a podcast? Regardless of whatever medium suits your brand best, a consistent, concentrated message to your audience will go a long way in setting you apart from the crowd.
Be Prepared for Failure
As much as it’s everyone’s dream, you can’t knock it out of the park every time. You are only human, and that means you are going to fail before you succeed. You don’t need us to tell you that failure isn’t fun. The fear of failure is what keeps many of us from accomplishing our goals. For others, it’s the fear of failure that pushes them to reach their goals.
Regardless, you can’t hope to have a successful brand without failing first. Hard failure is what teaches you what can happen when you try, and that’s important to understand when you’re just starting out.
You will never achieve the best branding until you fail while pushing yourself beyond your comfort zone. In fact, the best brands come not from instant perfection but from repeated mistakes and failure — the tried-and-true method of trial and error. Take solace in this fact of life, and prepare yourself for failure.
Jumpstart to Greatness
Even the experts who enhance the biggest brands out there know there are no hard rules when it comes to building your personal brand. It’s a lifelong process that changes and evolves with you and with the world. These steps are not written to be rules for you to follow, but merely guidelines when you’re just getting started building your personal brand. Having a strong personal brand will not only allow you to be known in your field, but it will help you land the consistent work you love.
What are you waiting for? Elevate your career and personal brand to greatness!