It doesn’t matter if you’re seeking a better job, looking for a promotion, considering changing your career or simply growing your network – building a personal brand can help you achieve your goals. As marketers, we frequently market services and products. However, we overlook the fact that we need to market ourselves! Here are seven steps to help you begin building your personal brand.
Step 1: Identify & prioritize your values and passions to help build your personal brand
Values are the things that you feel are important in the way you live and work. They are the core of who you are as a person and ultimately determine your priorities. A few examples of values include friends, family, honesty, community, ambition, etc. When faced with difficult decisions, you typically rely on your deepest-held values.
Values are essential for business and building your personal brand, especially during a job search. Candidates are far more likely to earn a position when their values align nicely with that of the company they are interviewing with. Prioritizing your values helps you establish the vision of your brand as a whole.
Passions, on the other hand, are the ways in which you enjoy spending your time. They are typically different from your values. However, they may overlap at times. In order to build your personal brand, you must first identify your passions – both personal and professional. Your professional passions may include technology, automation, marketing and/or design, whereas personal passions include lacrosse, family, and reading.
Values and passions aid in determining where you want to be in two…five…or even twenty years down the road – this includes your ideal career path. If the above passions and values were attributed to an individual, they would likely excel in an email marketing role involving design and automation, though they would need to live in an area that provides plenty of opportunities for outdoor activities.
Step 2: Define your core traits
What about you genuinely sets you apart from the rest of the crowd? Whatever these traits are, they are your unique traits and they are essential to building your personal brand. Furthermore, they help shape your individual identity. The Big FIve Personality Traits are identified as:
- Openness to experience
Each of the five traits is assessed on a scale, and where you fall on the scale defines your unique personality. You can take a free test to determine yours. This test provides some insight into how agreeable, extroverted, open-minded, etc. you are and help you refine your personal brand. These traits are by no means permanent. If you don’t like your results, you can take steps to move along the scale in either direction. For instance, if you’re closed-minded, you can try new things at work and in your personal life. On the contrary, you aren’t likely to have much luck changing core traits such as extrovert and introvert characteristics.
Need more insight regarding who you are today in order to build your personal brand? Ask your friends and family for their genuine feedback. Start by asking them to give you a series of adjectives they’d use to describe you. Once you have your key traits, you can then create your personal branding statement. Make sure to envision your best self when crafting this.
You can use the following fill-in-the-blank template from Dummies.com to help you get started writing your statement. Remember, this is nothing more than a starting point, so feel free to edit it to best fit your needs.
I use my _____ and _____ for _____.
Known for _____, I _____.
Using (key trait), I _____, by providing _____.
Through my _____, I _____, when I serve _____.
Step 3: Develop your personal image when building your personal brand
Once you’ve identified your values, passions, and personality traits, it’s time to start showcasing them! Here are a few ways that you can get started:
- Invest in professional headshots and use them on LinkedIn, your company profile, etc.
- Develop an email signature that is unique to you – use your personal email address if you can’t edit the email signature you use at work. Make sure to include all of your contact information, your social media icons, your company, and your website.
- Establish credibility via content. Use your blog, LinkedIn profile, or publishing tools like Medium to get your message out on topics you’re knowledgable about.
- Dress to impress! Stay prepared for networking events and big meetings by keeping a fresh blazer and pants/skirt pressed and ready to go.
Step 4: Define your target audience
It’s flat out impossible to make everyone like you, so why would you bother trying to appeal to everyone when building your personal brand? Defining your target audience is vital for organizations and it’s also important for individuals. Think back to when you were younger and you made darn sure to get requests approved by your parents when they were in a good mood. This simple concept teaches an important lesson – it’s best to invest your time and energy into an audience that is more likely to give you your desired outcome.
Your target audience includes:
1) The person who will pay you
This person is typically a leader, investor or client. This person is in charge of the next step of your career. Create a description (buyer persona) of this person (whether they are real or fictional) and include as many details about them as you possibly can. From there you need to identify this person’s personal and professional motivations. Understanding their motivations can help you better comprehend how they can help you meet your goals and even how you can help them meet theirs.
2) The person who influences the person who pays you
Make it easy for your boss or client to put in a good word for you with their superior or direct influencer. Diagram your current achievements and clearly outline your goals in a friendly format. Showcase how you’ve gone above and beyond in your current role.
3) Your supporters
Who are your messages crafted for? Who will benefit most from consuming them and provide you with what you’re asking for? That’s your target audience when it comes to supporters. If you’re aiming to achieve a new job or promotion, your supporters could also be your peers who will help you get where you want to go by providing stellar recommendations.
Step 5: Build your online presence
This shouldn’t come as a surprise, but you need to get your voice out there in order to build your personal brand. First, you must secure URLs, social usernames, etc. that are the best fit for your brand before someone else does. This includes both your personal website and any social networks you elect to join. Tools like knowem and NameChk can help you check the availability across hundreds of social communities. If your ideal name is already taken, try using dashes, underscores or numbers to find one that best fits your brand.
LinkedIn is one of the top places to start getting social if you’re interested in improving your job standing or looking for clients. Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram are other major networks you’ll want to consider. Secure your username here and start building your profiles on the network(s) that will best fit and help further expand your personal brand.
Furthermore, you want to ensure that your personal website showcases your best attributes and/or work. If you’re a writer or designer, establish a portfolio. If you’re a speaker, start a podcast or film yourself speaking at conferences.
Step 6: Start blogging!
The vast majority of marketers consider blogging to be the best way to build a business. They can also prove to be pivotal when building a personal brand. Once you have your website, start producing valuable content. Once you have followers, you’re well on your way to establishing a lasting personal brand.
Some of the best tactics for gaining followers include:
- Writing about influencers and getting them to share your posts
- Use social sharing buttons on your blog
- Join (and engage with) the right online communities
- Syndicate your content
- Repurpose your content
ONce you’ve established an audience, make sure to post on a regular basis. Follow SEO best practices and continue to cater to your audience for the best results possible.