Taking control and creating an awesome personal brand puts you on the front foot when it comes to establishing yourself as a force to be reckoned with in your chosen field, but how do you go about building a brand that will bring opportunity knocking at your door?
The truth is, whether for better or worse, you already have a personal brand. It’s the impression you convey in person and online about your values and what you stand for. Everything you do contributes to the brand you already have.
In today’s digital world, potential clients or employers may well turn initially to the internet to form an opinion of you – so it is more crucial than ever to ensure that the personal brand they find when they Google your name portrays you in the best light.
Here’s my five simple ways you can take control of your personal brand and put it to work to help you achieve your goals.
START THINKING OF YOURSELF AS A BRAND
What qualities, skills and values do you want people to associate with your name. Once you pin down what you want your personal brand to convey – be that fun-loving, compassionate, serious, professional, community-focused – you can become more strategic in conveying and building your brand in every interaction you have, whether in person or online. But remember – BE AUTHENTIC. Don’t pretend to be someone or something you are not. People will see through any false persona, destroying any trust in you, and you will struggle to maintain a fake brand day in and day out.
AUDIT YOUR EXISTING PERSONAL BRAND
Whether or not you have done anything so far to build a personal brand, unless you have been living under a rock for the past 10 years or more the chances are that you already have some kind of personal brand in terms of a digital footprint. Now’s the time to be brave and stick your name in some of the top search engines and see what comes up. If there are some things on there you don’t like, the likelihood of being able to wipe them completely is limited. But, at least once you know you can take some steps to limit the damage and make a commitment to do better from now on. Don’t forget to look at what images appear in search – drunken pictures from your teens which your friends posted on Facebook may not fit in with the image you are trying to convey through your personal brand but will be there for all to see.
GET A PERSONAL DOMAIN AND WEBSITE
Securing your name as a domain name is simple and costs very little, while setting up a simple website is relatively simple, even for those who don’t consider themselves at all techie. The benefit for your personal brand of doing this is that it remains one of the best ways to rank for your name on search engines. This, in turn, gives you a much greater control over what people will discover if they look you up.
Your own website doesn’t need to be a large or complicated affair – a simple CV, short bio and links to your social media profiles are sufficient for starters – but it does need to look professional and convey your brand message. Think about the fonts and colours you use, for example.
If you are so inclined, you can use your website to grow your brand further by adding a blog and posting regularly on topics that matter to you and the people you wish to convey your brand to.
SHARE YOUR MESSAGE
If you are serious about cultivating your personal brand you need to start being purposeful about what you share, particularly online where every word and image can remain for all to find with a simple search for many years to come. Ensure every tweet, Facebook post and image you share contributes to your personal brand message.
A brand isn’t built in a day – it takes weeks, months even years of consistently putting out the same message. It means you need to be crystal clear on what you want your message to be and then be strategic about building it over a long period of time.
REINVENT OR RE-IMAGINE
An awesome brand is all about having a powerful “story” to tell about who you are, what you believe and what you do. Do you know what your story is in relation to your brand? If it is complicated and includes many areas of interest, for example, you made need to take some time and put some effort into tying all the strands together to make a unified narrative which sums up in a very clear and concise way what you are all about.
Your personal brand is YOU – it’s a living, breathing thing. It should evolve and grow as you do.
For more help on defining and growing your personal brand, I recommend reading The Road to Recognition: The A-To-Z Guide to Personal Branding for Accelerating Your Professional Success in the Age of Digital Media by Seth Price and Barry Feldman.