Personal brand is more than just a buzzword thrown around at career building workshops or a term you read about in a LinkedIn article during your job search. It’s the power we all have to mold and create an identity online. At one point we were able to maintain personal and professional identities that lived in their own separate spaces of printed resumes or friends on Facebook. That simply isn’t the career field anymore. Not only that, but everyone essentially has the potential to be a journalist with the digital capabilities we all have to join in the conversation. Personal brand is establishing how you want to combine all of those factors to create a tool for personal and professional success.
1. Actually use LinkedIn.
I know this seems like the most generic advice, but LinkedIn combines so many of the factors of personal brand into one incredibly effective interface. It’s not only for your job-search either. So many business opportunities and partnerships have come my way through LinkedIn when I wasn’t searching at all. The amount of activity you have and the completeness of your profile, including work samples, make you more likely to make an awesome connection. Also, when you connect with peers and coworkers, and then move on to a new position, you keep that contact open. And if you post relevant industry articles, your colleagues and management see that.
2. Determine and stand by your own brand values.
In business, a brand identity is the value that a company is trying to bring to the market. Personal branding is the same but for yourself. It’s the unique set of principles, passions and views we support when we represent ourselves online. I have left certain websites because some of the content didn’t correspond with my own personal brand. It wasn’t what I stood for elsewhere so I felt continuing to be associated would be both contradicting and deceptive. You’re your own brand and one people will start to count on if you take pride in that.
3. Fill out your contact information and profiles.
A multitude of half-completed social pages and accounts appears unprofessional and makes you unreachable. Fill out your contact information with a professional address and ensure the availability of information about who you are and what you do.
4. Get involved in industry conversation.
No matter what your interest is, engineering, finance, crafting, business, fashion or anything else that you have a background in, there’s a place for you to contribute. Your perspective is valuable. The more you read and discuss your topics in your field, the more you establish yourself as a thought-leader. Follow blogs, newsletters or anything that peaks your interest, then jump right in. This not only shows to anyone in your professional realm that you are interested and credible, but it builds your own confidence in articulating your ideas in new conversations.
5. Use clean and clear communication online.
Establish clear methods for certain levels of communication. Decide what kind of mediums (email, phone numbers, addresses) you want to make available to those in your circles. One identifying email address is a good choice. Use a signature and respond promptly. Let people know if you have to change the address for some reason. Don’t leave your contacts in the dark and they’ll appreciate that communication and also never lose the ability to reach out.
6. Show pride for your college, groups, job or city.
This not only enables others to want to engage with you more online, but it also helps your personal brand resonate with others. Online branding/networking often boils down to feeling some sort of connection or similarity with someone and what they are expressing. The more you demonstrate pride for the people and places you know, the more others share that with you and recognize who you are because of it.
7. Find your voice.
The most essential aspect of personal brand is recognizing the potential you really have. It’s easy to feel embarrassed about reaching out to others or involving yourself in online conversation. Many people are apprehensive or fearful of the reactions they may receive from putting themselves out there. However, true success can only really be obtained through the breaking of comfort barriers. This is how we all discover our voices and feel comfortable using that voice to reach for our dreams.
Express yourself. Stick to your gut. Find your niche. Share your perspective. Be proud of the best brand you’ll ever get to promote, the one that couldn’t be created in a conference room because it was created in only your heart.