Managing your personal brand
Successful businesses typically have a strong brand. We all immediately recognise the Apple, Google and Virgin logos. We intrinsically understand what these brands stand for – what they sell, how they sell, the business culture and perceived impact on our lives – usually positive.
Branding in business is common, but today branding on a personal level is also becoming important.
Here, we explore how to build and manage your online brand to maximise your possibilities for career, business and personal success.
What is personal branding?
Essentially, your personal brand is your reputation. It’s what others think and say about you based on what you do and how you do it.
“Personal branding is about identifying and then communicating what makes you unique, relevant and differentiated from your target audience.”
It is about packaging yourself and ensuring that you present a successful image. Your brand is largely influenced by your online presence. Managing your online presence is essential to ensure that you are presenting yourself in the best possible way.
It’s important to build your brand in order to:
- Create a professional presence on the internet to enhance your reputation.
- Demonstrate expertise and leadership to your current employer and network.
- Market yourself as a strong candidate for future employers.
- Connect with contacts that will help you with your job search and/or other professional opportunities.
- Help prospective employers find you.
In addition to the traditional resume, you can provide potential employers with information about yourself with a variety of different personal brand assets. Such assets can include:
- links to a carefully managed LinkedIn profile and a personal blog
- comments on other posts seeking input, information, assistance and/or debate
- articles you have written and/or sourced which provide original ideas, technical information or analysis
- presentations you have made or attended which support your own field and technical expertise
- evidence of having an online following.
These efforts may provide you with an increased chance of being noticed by potential employers.
Technically, you only have one brand, despite the fact that you may post online in both personal and professional capacities. On occasion, the line between your professional and personal lives can become blurred. It’s therefore important to have a strategy in place to ensure that your brand is not compromised; employers can easily find out a plethora of information about potential candidates, both from a professional and social context.
Why should you be building your personal brand?
The concept of personal branding is becoming more prevalent in relation to employment, career progression and job search. If you’re seeking a job, you must think, act and plan like a business leader. You must manage your own reputation, both on and off line.
Your professional brand needs to reflect your skills, interests and expertise so that when someone finds information about you online, it connects them to who you are, what you do and what you can offer.
It is becoming common place for employers to “Google” a candidate being considered for a role. If you don’t want a prospective employer viewing something from your personal life (for example, holiday photos or personal and social occasions), simply don’t post these online, or post them in such a way that they are restricted from the public eye.
It’s all about perception; ensure that your brand is one that is going to impress both potential employers and your networking contacts.
How to create your professional brand:
- Define your target audience
- Build up your online and offline assets
- Build your brand through exposure
- Connect with others
- Monitor your brand
What is it that you want to highlight?
- Technical skills
- Industry experience
- Relevant academia including qualifications, publications etc
- Thought leadership/currency
Focus on your core skill areas. When someone first searches your name online, you want them to be able to immediately see what it is that you are good at and how your skills can benefit their company.
- Create a profile on at least some of the top networking sites – LinkedIn is the best. Be strategic about who you connect with and ensure that your connections are a reflection of your own professionalism.
- Ensure that your privacy settings on Facebook are restricted so that potential employers cannot see what is going on in your private life. Be mindful on how photos and posts linked to you can be shared by others.
- If you have a Twitter account for work related purposes, ensure that you are following relevant people and be mindful of what you are posting.
- Set up a blog page on WordPress or alike if you are keen to publish your own thoughts/ideas on a particular topic that would benefit your career.
- Websites like ‘Brandedme’ not only offer a free opportunity to create your own branded website outlining your bio, skills and experience, but a greater chance of being found on Google searches: https://branded.me.
- Continue to audit your brand online. Ensure that you are not being tagged or referenced inappropriately.
- Be authentic; your professional and personal worlds should be aligned in reflecting the same values and behaviours.
- Be strategic about what you are posting and sharing.
You also need to ensure that you are making use of the appropriate privacy settings and connecting with the right people on the relevant platforms. The widely accepted view is that LinkedIn is for professional connections and Facebook and Instagram are for social connections. Due to its explicitly public nature, Twitter has become a double-sided platform that can be utilised in different ways depending on the amount of censorship a user decides on.
A final word
Personal branding is the process of highlighting, and in some cases, glorifying, certain positive characteristics of an individual, and is therefore not unlike the traditional branding of products and companies. Use the appropriate online channels to only promote those benefits which are true and authentic.
Rampton J, 2014, ‘How do you separate a personal brand from a professional one?’, Huffington Post
Bussin R, 2015, ‘What makes you unique, makes you successful’, Aspire