The first time I heard the words ‘personal branding’ I was convinced that they didn’t apply to me. I’m not a company or a celebrity, even the image of branding a cow came to mind, so why should I have my own branding, what does that even mean?
Unknowingly, through the course of my university studies I started to naturally develop a personal brand online through the use of social media. Now, I wish I’d used personal branding to my advantage sooner.
Since developing a strong personal brand, I’ve received job offers, partnership opportunities, freelance clients and overall amazing networking with industry relevant people. Here are the things I wish I knew about personal branding right from the start:
1. Personal Branding Isn’t Complicated
Your personal brand is the attributes people associate with you and the perceptions people have of you after you connect.
Think about the social media driven world we live in, where you can Google someone and learn what their cat’s name is – that is why you need a personal brand.
What you do and say (online and off) stick with you – you might as well start making it work for you. Your personal brand is you consciously associating with what is important to you (your industry and knowledge).
When people think of me, they don’t think ‘Hailley – not quite sure what she’s interested in.’
Instead, I always get ‘Hailley – can you help me with this social media problem?’ My personal brand is so strongly associated with social media that I get several questions a week (sometimes a day) from friends and contacts.
Whether you’re looking to get an entry-level position or you’re looking to be the VP of a company, clearly telling people who you are and what you’re about will help you stick out of a crowded marketplace and connect you with the right network.
How to Kick Off Your Personal Brand
Don’t let personal branding scare you! It is easy once you wrap your head around it! I promise! Here are a few questions (and follow up questions) you can use to kick off your personal brand:
- How do you want to be perceived online?
- Do your social media profiles convey that?
- Who do you want to connect with in your industry?
- What do they do online? (Where do they spend time, what knowledge do they share?)
- What skill or knowledge do you want people to associate with you?
- How are you going to demonstrate that skill? A blog, portfolio, etc.
- How will people learn about you online?
- Ex. Are they on Twitter? Are you on Twitter?
2. Make Personal Branding Work For You (Tools to Use)
Now that you’re figuring out your personal brand and how you want to frame it online, how do you start?
While this may seem like a lot of work in the beginning, once you start getting set up it is a lot easier to maintain. Here are the top tools you to start conveying your personal brand:
Take advantage of about.me
About.me is a great platform for telling your story. Here are some of the things to think about when you’re creating your about.me page:
Why should someone be interested in you? What is your focus? What are you looking for? (I.e. Job opportunities, networking, volunteering, etc.)
Having an about.me page is also useful because social media sites ask you for a website link – now you have one. Start using your about.me link everywhere (on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, etc.) when someone wants to learn more about you, point them to the place where you have all of the most important information.
Create a powerful LinkedIn profile
As for LinkedIn, think of it as your digital resume. Use it to connect with all of your current and former colleagues, anyone from University or people you’ve met at events where it’s just not right to add them on Facebook.
I’ve written about making an amazing LinkedIn profile a few times, check it out for more on this:
- 16 LinkedIn Tips to Make Your Profile Amazing
- 12 Easy Improvement you can Make to your LinkedIn Profile
Use Twitter to Connect and Share
Twitter is amazing for connecting. Start by looking for industry leaders, follow them and interact with their content. (I create private lists for the people I want to keep tabs on on Twitter.)
Twitter is also amazing for creating thought leadership. Start tweeting out important articles and that knowledge becomes associated with you.
Tweet about events you’re going to and connect with the speakers, tweet to companies you want to work with and ask pointed questions (you’ll get a response, and maybe an in to their company!) You can also join industry relevant Twitter chats.
All in all, Twitter is the best way to get the word out about who you are, and what you care about.
This is the intro list – start with these tools and slowly adopt more that can help you create and maintain your brand with even more ease. Here is a more detailed list of even more tools to use to brand yourself online.
3. Personal Brands Evolve and Change Over Time
When I first started creating my personal brand, I got really hung up on using the perfect photo on about.me, or tweeting exactly three times a day and if I didn’t I was missing out, and writing content every single day (that one didn’t last long).
Your personal brand will change over time – naturally. Keep slowly making changes and adjustments. Your brand will grow with you as a person. The personal brand you create early in your career will evolve as you get more experience and learn about how you want to be perceived.
Investing in personal branding is so worth it in my opinion, by creating a strong personal brand now, you are lining yourself up for even more opportunities later.
Hailley Griffis is a digital nomad and PR Specialist at Buffer who is obsessed with communications and Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. Connect with her at www.hailleygriffis.com and keep up with her current location in the world in 140 characters or less on Twitter as @hailleymari.
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