Whether you’re searching for a better job, looking for a promotion, considering changing careers, or growing your network, building a strong personal brand can help you reach your goals. Your personal brand is how the world sees you; how people would describe you. It is the set of values and characteristics that describe who you are and guide your choices-in work and in life.
Your personal brand is how people perceive you. Even before they meet you. In order to be an expert on something, people need to perceive you as such. Working out loud and taking charge of your personal brand is important to stand out to potential employers. It’s important to learn how to market yourself to the world. Here are 10 steps to get started on your personal branding strategy.
1. Define Your Brand
How do you want the world to perceive you? What is it that you want to be an expert in? What do you want to bring to the table? Write down the words that you want people to use to describe you. Be honest and choose words that are authentic to who you are professionally. Then look at what is actually online about you. Does it line up with what you want your audience to see?
2. Have a Specialty
Specializing in something specific that you’re excited and passionate about is important. It’s important to be vocal about what makes you stand out from the crowd and why employers or clients should choose you. Maybe you are passionate about building websites or writing or graphic design. If you can’t think of a skill that’s your specialty, then learn one! Take classes that will help you refine your skills and develop your niche.
As you’ll read, you can be an expert in anything so long as you can do the research and show your work. So don’t be afraid to explore subjects you have always wanted to but don’t have experience in. Over time and with the right amount of work, you can be a specialist in anything.
3. Write Your Bio
People want to know more about you, and you’ll want to grab their attention. Write a short bio, so you have it ready. A professional bio is a necessity for freelance writing gigs, networking events, speaking on panels, and keeping your LinkedIn profile up-to-date. Your bio might include your education, work experience, any published writing or press hits, awards you’ve received, volunteer work, and possibly even some of your personal interests. Personal branding doesn’t happen solely on your portfolio site or social media profiles. Writing an on-brand bio can make sure that your reputation follows you wherever you go. Also, consider streamlining your profile picture and bio across all your social media accounts so people can recognize you right away.
4. Create a Blog
Blogging is a great way to showcase your creativity and thought leadership. Blogging regularly on your own site is an excellent way of working out loud. If potential clients and collaborators can read about your work process and habits, they’ll have a crystal clear idea of who you are and what defines your work strategy. Go to wordpress.com or squarespace.com, and buy a domain. Preferably, this would be yourfullname.com. As an added bonus to blogging, you will continually be creating new content and generating new SEO results, so it’s easier for people to find you! Add your contact information so people that read your blog can contact you to network. If a blog isn’t your style, you could also explore sending personal newsletters.
Prefer to talk instead of write? Another great content strategy is to simply turn on that video camera and talk. Start a Youtube channel and start making videos. Or create videos on Linkedin or Instagram depending on the topic you want to focus on. Just like blogging, regularly producing is key. Get on a schedule and stick with it.
6. Participate on Social Media
Social media is a perfect platform for positively promoting your own personal brand. Whether it be on Facebook, Twitter, or other social networks, you can share articles, blog posts, and other work achievements related to your authentic personal brand. You should also follow people in your industry and jump into relevant conversations. What are you interested in? Where do people who are interested in that hang out online? Go there and participate. Don’t spam the community with links. Comment, give feedback and help others more than you promote your own posts.
7. Use Linkedin
LinkedIn is one of the best places to promote your academic or career changes and achievements. It is, essentially, your digital, public resume. LinkedIn allows you to put your accomplishments out there for the world (and potential employers) to see. Also, if you set up a LinkedIn profile, it will be one of the first things that people see when they search for you online, so it’s another easy way to work aloud. Ask employers to recommend you on your LinkedIn profile, you’ll have a permanent record of testimonials from the people that matter most.
8. Build Your Communication Skills
Whether you’re shy or outgoing, it’s important to communicate well as you build your personal brand vision and learn how to tell your story. One way to do this is to practice both a personal and a professional “pitch.” It’s also an excellent idea to build a quick summary of your personal and professional interests as well as experiences. This is important so you’re able to quickly and concisely explain what you do, why it is important to you, and your extracurricular interests to other people.
9. Build Your Network
In order to build and share your personal brand, you need to also be growing your professional network. Over 80% of job seekers say their network has helped them find work. Networking contacts can help with more than job leads. They can provide referrals or insider information about companies you might be interested in working for. Take advantage of the opportunities in your city and your industry to meet new people at places like networking and industry events. You may make new friends, meet new clients, or even have someone to work with when you need to get out of your home office or coffee shop!
10. Free Work
Free work is a secret weapon for building social capital. Offering something of value for free without strings attached can help you build a strong network and expand your opportunities. Your goal isn’t to work for free for a long time. The idea is to get your foot in the door, create value, learn a lot, and of course to have the opportunity to transition to paid work as soon as possible. Help others without expectation, and they’ll want to help you. The next time they or someone they know needs help with something similar, they’ll recommend you first.
These 10 ways to build your personal brand are just the start of how you can work out loud and build your professional network. Creating a personal brand will define how the world sees you, and with some work and persistence, land you opportunities you wouldn’t have otherwise gotten. Interested in getting more professional development advice? Check out the Meratas blog!