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How to build a personal brand

Personal branding can help with your career and job search. Here are six tips on how to build a personal brand.

A well developed personal brand can be a great thing to have for anyone looking to establish themselves as an industry expert or simply looking for a job or to advance their career. So, you might want to consider building your up.

According to personalbrand.com, “A personal brand is a widely-recognized and largely-uniform perception or impression of an individual based on their experience, expertise, competencies, actions and/or achievements within a community, industry, or the marketplace at large.”

We often think of personal branding as something specific to influencers or people who want or need to get a lot of attention on themselves and what they have to offer.

Some examples of some good personal branding include the following:

Gary Vaynerchuk – wine critic turned entrepreneur and major social media personality.
Alison Wu – lifestyle and wellness influencer with a flair for visual imagery and food styling.
Alice Thorpe – freelance graphic designer with an engaging personality who helps others become better digital creators.
Allison Baggerly –  budget expert whose goal is to help women learn how to budget and pay off debt.
Ronald Van Loon – influencer in big data, analytics, and data science. Speaker, writer and educator.

I tried to pick a few people with different areas of expertise, to demonstrate that, no matter what your area, you may benefit from working on your brand.

These people have far larger audiences than most of us need. A personal brand can be a smaller scale project designed to appeal to a specific industry network or audience that includes employers and potential colleagues.

You don’t need to appeal to a million people. You need to appeal to the right people.

There are a lot of resources out there on how to do this. To get you started, here are just a few tips on how to build a personal brand.

How to build a personal brand.

Establish your goals

What do you want to accomplish? Is it thought leader or influencer status, a new job, move up the ladder, career change, or getting a book deal? This doesn’t have to be set in stone – goals change – but knowing what you want to accomplish is imperative to figuring out how you’ll get there.

Identify your audience

Whose attention do you need to capture in order to reach those goals? Is it leaders in a specific professional community or sector, like software or wellness start-ups? A CEO or hiring manager of a specific company? Social media users with an interest in a particular topic, like food or health?

For example, you may want to gather a social media following as an expert on cars if your goal is a high ranking position at a major car company.

Identify your unique value

Now sit down and list all the things that are amazing and remarkable about you. This includes your awesome skills as well as anything that makes you stand out from others who also possess those same skills. Are you a great programmer, writer, caregiver, or accountant? Super. What else might be interesting to an employer and/or target audience? Are you also creative? Funny? Great with people? Do you have a unique hobby that adds to your value? List those things and pull out the best of them.

Pick your platform/s

A good way to get someone’s attention is usually to find out where they’re looking and be in that place. Employers are usually on LinkedIn. What other platforms are appropriate for your purpose? Someone with an interest in fashion or food might find Instagram the most effective place to promote themselves while a mathematician or research scientist might find a different platform more useful. Then again, if you’re a mathematician or research scientist with a flair for the visual and a lot to say, that’s a unique value totally appropriate for Instagram. Someone with a lot to demonstrate and a great camera personality could use YouTube. Do you or will have a personal blog or use Twitter? You don’t have to use every platform and probably shouldn’t. Focus on one or two.

Create content that highlights your unique value and appeals to your target audience

Now that you know the image you want to portray – YOU at your best – create content that does that. Knowing how you want to be perceived and what you want to highlight should help you come up with content ideas. Write articles that highlight your knowledge and expertise and that educate and help others. Post images, graphics, and visuals that relate to what you want to talk about. Create content around your interest in finance, sustainability, or fitness, that also highlights your unique value.

Are you a scientist and excellent songwriter? Awesome. Have a YouTube channel featuring songs about science. Work on making the diverse pieces of you into a compelling whole package. The content on your social media, blog, website, and job application materials should all reflect this package.

Be genuine

Don’t try to be someone you’re not. If you’re not a foodie, a deeply spiritual person, or a buttoned up and serious professional, don’t fake it because you think that’s what people want to see. Be you and be real. You’re good enough.  

Be consistent

Be that same person across all platforms. Be consistent. That doesn’t mean you have to post the exact same content everywhere. What it means is don’t be a wisecracking sassypants in one place and an earnest user of inspirational quotes in another. Use the same style of pictures, and speak in the same language. You want people to find you and get to know you.

Influencer Marketing Hub says:

“Underlying consistency is the secret behind creating a successful personal brand. This means that you need to act in a way that fits in with your perceived image. You would like your personal brand to be authentic. In short, you want to ensure that your personal brand matches what people say about you in your absence.”

Also, “Another aspect to consider is that the whole aim of personal branding is not to focus on selling. Thus, you do not want to come across as another salesman.”

Educate, learn, engage, inspire, entertain, relate. Don’t sell. If people want what you’re offering, they’ll buy it without you having to sell it to them. Make sure they know it’s available. But don’t overtly sell it.

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