In the digital world that we live in today, the term “brand” has become ubiquitous. Everywhere we look, businesses are focusing on crafting unique profiles that set them apart from their competitors and are constantly seeking to promote their products or services through various channels. After all, a strong brand is one of the most critical components for prolonged success. For individuals too, personal branding is crucial for your professional goals. Whether you’re an entrepreneur, consultant, or freelancer, it’s important to develop a public image that inspires trust and loyalty from your clients or customers. Through branding, you can show your industry expertise, build trust, and develop your signature image that readers, followers, and fans can recognize. Part science and part art, here are 5 steps to getting started on the road to building your own personal brand.
1. Know yourself well, like really well
As the saying goes, “know thyself.” To understand what your brand is and how to strategize building it, it is important to first fully understand who you are and what are your values. While most people have a good sense of what their personality is like, the hardest part is translating that knowledge into specific words. As an exercise, write down your top 10 strengths on a piece of paper. Then think about how each of those traits ties into the type of brand that you wish to build and how you can leverage your strengths to your advantage. Asking yourself questions such as, “what do you want people to associate with your name,” “how do you want your brand to be perceived,” and “what purpose will your brand be used for,” are a great way to start the brainstorming.
2. Build your online presence
Once you understand the type of persona that you want to craft, now is the time to choose the channels on which you will be active and what type of content you will create. Taking the time to develop your image on various social media platforms will pay off later in terms of business relationships, brand recognition, and potential partnerships. Facebook and Twitter are great platforms for sharing links to articles, quick quips, or daily updates. Instagram is a must use if your business is heavily image-based. And LinkedIn is necessary for connecting and keeping up to date with professional contacts. Post updates regularly (At least once a day for Facebook and Instagram, and multiple times throughout the day for Twitter) and make sure that the content that you are posting is always in line with the message of your brand. Having a personal website that showcases your accomplishments and current projects also is effective in expanding your online presence.
3. Write articles and speak at industry engagements
Content creation is critical to developing a loyal following. If people are following you, then they want to hear your unique voice and thoughts. Write articles on subjects that you are passionate about and be as specific as possible. Sure, so you want to write an article on marketing—but there are thousands of articles and books already written about the subject. So what makes you stand out? Instead, pick a niche field within that subject where your voice will stand out. But make sure that what you’re sharing every day has value. Posting something ridiculous or monotonous every day is a sure way to lose followers.
4. Always keep learning
Learning is a lifelong activity that must never stop. Richard Branson once said, “I see life almost like one long University education that I never had — every day I’m learning something new.” Even if you’re an expert in your field, there’s still something out there that you can expand your knowledge about. Follow the thought leaders and leading publications in your industry and always be on top of what is happening. The hard part about learning is staying committed 365 days of the year. So set yourself a schedule for what you want to accomplish every day and make a list of the tasks, however trivial.
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5. Network, network, network
Once you have put together all the pieces of your personal brand, the next step is to see its effect in action through networking. Now that you have built your personal story, it’s time to go out and fluently tell that story to others. Practice first with friends and family, but then spend time connecting with other professionals in your industry, social influencers who have online clout, and anyone else who can spread the word about your skills and expertise. Attend networking sessions in your city and participate in online discussions to cultivate those connections.
Building a personal brand takes dedication and time. But once you lay the groundwork and develop your brand carefully, you will be rewarded in the future in the form of greater online recognition, more professional contacts, and even business contracts.