Years ago “branding” may have been solely associated with companies. However, with the rise of the Internet, social media and the cool entrepreneur, branding as a person is also incredibly important. In the digital world, some may argue that strong personal branding is no longer just a competitive edge but a necessity.
Many organizations will do an online search or background check before they consider hiring you. If you are an entrepreneur, you can bet that investors and clients will do research before chatting with you.
Your personal branding is your reputation. Ask yourself two questions: What are you known for now? What do you want to be known for?
If you don’t know the answers, then you likely need to work on building your personal brand. Otherwise, you leave it up to chance and anyone could find embarrassing and inaccurate details about you like what’s left on your MySpace profile from over a decade ago. (Let’s face it--no one wants anyone to form an impression of them based on that.)
Building a personal brand takes a conscious effort, but it can give you more control over your image and access to amazing opportunities. Other benefits of strong personal branding are that:
It increases your job prospects.
Businesses also need to protect their reputation, so many organizations have a thorough vetting process. In fact, over 77% of HR recruiters Google and research candidates online. According to a survey by Jobvite, 92% of recruiters are looking to social media to not only research applicants, but to search for new talent.
The top three networks that HR professionals use to research candidates are Linkedin (87%), Facebook (55%), and Twitter (47%). You can count on people viewing your Linkedin, so make sure that your resume is up-to-date. Highlight your skills and ask for recommendations from people you have worked with in the past.
Your social profiles should be kept professional, as well as any photos that you are tagged in. Don’t be too bland or too promotional though. People want to know you, so be honest about who you are. It’s okay to post about your painting hobby, the 5K you ran last weekend or a new book you can’t put down. You may feel more comfortable adjusting your privacy settings. However, if you have over 500 friends--many you’ve never met--setting your profile to private won’t help you.
You gain a competitive edge.
Over 95% of recruiters believe that in an increasingly competitive job market, those that invest in personal branding will stand out. Those that do not, will get left behind. A positive reputation can increase referrals from clients, friends or acquaintances and expand your network. Whether you want to land your dream job with a large company or start a company of your own, strong personal branding will help you do it.
It’s good for business.
If you’re a business owner with employees, encouraging strong personal branding can even help your company’s growth, especially on social channels. For instance, Social Media Today claims that content receives 8 times more engagement when it is shared by employees versus brands.
You can develop thought leadership.
A strong personal brand can give you documented credibility and expertise. With credentials, you could become a thought leader or influencer. You could even generate profit through content or build your own company. There are countless examples of bloggers, influencers, and social media stars that have turned their personal branding into a stream of revenue.
Steps to Build Your Personal Brand.
There are several enticing reasons you need strong personal branding. Here are some ways that you can make it happen.
1. Google yourself.
If you want to strengthen your brand, then you need to know where it stands. Think like a recruiter or potential client and do research on yourself. You may not like what you find, but it is better that you find it before someone you want to impress does. If you find results you don’t like, change what you can. Delete outdated accounts that you don’t use anymore. You can improve the search results and accurately reflect who you are by posting a blog, website, portfolio and other content on a consistent basis.
2. Get a professional photo.
You may be surprised by the number of people that use dark, grainy photos or photos where someone is obviously cropped out on their Linkedin profile. If your profile picture is you, posing with your cat with your messy apartment in the background, you may want to update it.
A well-lit professional photo from the chest up is the standard, but don’t be afraid to add a personal touch, especially when it is relevant to what you do. For instance, the team at Greatist, a content website geared towards Millennials and healthy lifestyles posed with giant food props.
3. Design a logo and branding.
A high-quality, professional logo visually symbolizes your brand. It can help people recognize your content and communications. If you don’t have the design knowledge, there are many places where you can hire a designer to create a professional logo for you at an inexpensive cost.
4. Invest in quality business cards.
Technology has changed a lot in the business world. Yet, business cards have lasted the test of time. If you meet someone interesting at a conference or bump into them in your local coffee shop, it is convenient to have a business card on hand. Depending on the person, they may get dozens of cards or more every day. Invest in some memorable, but professional cards that leave a good impression.
Make sure they include your logo, contact information and a link to your website or portfolio. You may even want to invest in a virtual card or video, especially if you are in the creative or tech industries.
5. Develop a website or landing page.
In the digital era, your website is your virtual portfolio. In some ways, it can be your online store. If you are in tech or design, a website is a necessity. People want to see examples of previous work. Showcase recent projects (with permission from clients) or links to thought leadership. Make sure to include a contact form to field inquiries and to include the website link on your social channels.
Alternatively, you can start a blog, vlog or podcast. Remember, personal branding may benefit you, but it should also benefit others. If you start a blog, make video tutorials, DIYs or other types of thought leadership for your brand, you always need to provide value.
6. Ask for feedback, recommendations and referrals.
What others are saying about you is just as if not more important than what you say about yourself. Word of mouth is one of the most powerful influences on your reputation, so start the conversation on a positive note.
If you run your own consulting service or business, focus on developing positive customer experiences and ask for reviews and feedback. If you make a good impression and delivered high-quality work consistently, people will remember it and keep your name in mind if their network every needs similar products or services.
Your personal brand sticks with you for your whole life. If you own a business or are preparing to launch one, a strong personal brand is crucial to success. It helps you build a network of people that are in your corner supporting you. When you are job searching it increases your chances of landing the position that you want over other candidates. For help developing your brand or to discover more ways to increase your business success, contact 10twelve.