More and more people are talking about the importance of personal branding both in your career search and in your career development. Effective personal branding not only makes you stand out from the crowd to employers and recruiters; it can also increase your job security by communicating your value as a leader and team player to your organization.
What is personal branding?
Personal branding is the process of identifying the unique and differentiating value that you can bring to an organization, team and/or project, and communicating it in a professionally memorable and consistent manner in all of your actions and outputs, both online and offline, to all current and prospective stakeholders in your career.
Everyone has a unique personal brand. You communicate your own brand in everything you do — whether you know it or not. It is important to remember that personal branding is so much more than what you put on your social networks or what you write on a blog.
It’s who you are inside and out, online AND offline. Your personal brand is your reputation.
How do you create your personal brand?
1) Write down your differentiating strengths (those you feel make you stand out from the rest)
2) Ask your friends, family and colleagues/managers to do the same
3) Identify the top 3 to 5 strengths that you feel will support the career direction you want to pursue
4) Create/find a word or phrase that can become your personal brand and that represents these strengths
5) Develop a short pitch that can follow your brand, describing your strengths in more detail
Note: Ensure that your word or phrase is versatile and can change with your direction
How do you build your personal brand?
There are many ways that you can build and communicate your personal brand both online and in-person; however, to get you started, here are some topline recommendations for establishing your brand and credibility in today’s career marketplace:
Get active and get visible online and offline: If no one meets you or sees you, it won’t matter how strong your personal brand is. Therefore, it is essential that you get your name and yourself in front of your target network. Here are some ways to increase your visibility:
- Create a LinkedIn profile and follow the suggested steps to complete your profile 100%, making sure you include your personal brand and pitch in your subtitle and summary sections
- Create a Google account and profile for improved search engine optimization
- Include your personal brand on your resume, cover letter, business cards, email signature, voicemail message and across your other social networks, such as Twitter and Facebook
- Consider creating a personal website or blog site where you can house all of your information, including experience, education, skills, honors, entrepreneurial efforts and more
- Join associations or networking groups within your industry and try attending their events to meet new contacts and build your target network. Be sure to share your personal brand with those new contacts you meet
- Conduct informational interviews with target network contacts (whether or not you’re seeking a job) and share your personal brand with them in your introductions
Contribute consistent value: Make sure that everything you contribute is valuable to those with whom you share it and also relevant to and supportive of your personal brand. Consistency is critical, for the more consistent all of your own marketing efforts are both online and offline, the more powerful and memorable your personal brand impression will be on all current and prospective stakeholders in your career. Here are some ways you start contributing value:
- Book or product reviews
- Comments on other blog posts
- Blog articles or articles for print publications
- Discussions in LinkedIn Groups or in other forums
- Advice via LinkedIn Answers and other forums
Become a thought leader: As you grow the quantity, quality and uniqueness of your contributions, you may be increasingly considered as an industry thought leader. Here are some ways to support and even expedite your rise to thought leadership:
- Start your own blog with a unique POV on your industry/area of interest
- Found a company with relevant and valuable products/services/resources for the industry
- Publish and offer print and/or electronic publications
- Get quoted in the media by joining HARO and contributing advice, experiences and insights to writers and journalists seeking expert sources
- Find ways to bring fellow industry thought leaders together on a project or at an event
- Find ways to contribute to the projects or events of fellow industry experts
- Get recommended on LinkedIn and any other networks where you or your offerings are available and/or collect and display testimonials from customers, clients and partners