Good personal branding will give you credibility and help grow your professional influence, helping you to get noticed by industry peers and recruiters. If you’re trying to land a more senior position at a new company, you can showcase key data such as the number of social-media followers you have, how much traffic your website gets or other vital metrics that could give you the edge over other candidates.
Think of it as your online portfolio allowing more people to get to know who you are, what you might be like to work with, and how you add value.
1. Remember that your personal brand isn’t just online: Your brand is everything that you say and do, off and online. Even when you’re commuting into work, you’re conveying a message about who you are. Branding yourself can feel egotistical on the one hand, overwhelming on the other. But success is about keeping it real – a strong personal brand reflects who you really are. You don’t have to invent anything. Nor do you have to spend hours every day cultivating your brand. It’s just about taking the right steps here and there and having the confidence to put yourself out there.
Take every opportunity you can to work with others, volunteer for projects and step up if a leadership role is on offer (whether it’s at work or in your community). Even just sharing your thoughts on an interesting article you’ve read is a good start. It all helps develop an impression of who you are, in and out of work.
2. CV: Your CV is a live document that should always be at hand to showcase your expertise and career journey so far. It’s also your first chance to make a great impression with potential employers.
When writing your CV, set out your stall with an opening ‘profile’ paragraph – summarise yourself in a way that makes your skills/qualifications stand out. After that, put your experience upfront and be clear and concise throughout. Focus your CV on your achievements and how you made a difference in your current/previous role/s. Wherever possible, evidence the impact you made with facts and figures.
Upload your CV to LinkedIn and regularly update it. This saves you work in the long run and ensures you don’t miss out on unexpected opportunities.
3. Speak at events: A great way to build your brand is to get your name out there by speaking at events. Lots of events may remain virtual for some time to come, but think of leading a webinar or speaking at a virtual roundtable or conference and it will help build your confidence, demonstrate your expertise to others, and help build and cement valuable networks. Sometimes you may get the opportunity to collaborate with other like-minded business professionals on panel sessions or discussion groups. Whatever the format, seize the chance to speak up and shine.
4. Networking: Try to build relationships with as many people as possible. Be helpful and also willing to accept help/advice if you need it. This again may feel more difficult right now while so many of us continue to work from home, but even if you’re not meeting people face-to-face, make a point of finding virtual networking groups or forums. At Totum, we have hosted numerous Zoom virtual meetings bringing together business services professionals from lots of different firms. They’ve been a fantastic way to get to know people across the industry and share ideas. And we know we’re not alone in setting up such groups. A small but important detail: when you meet someone new, make a point of remembering their name and some details about them (a quick Google brings up lots of memory tools for this). This will help you make a strong impression on others, which in turn will strengthen your personal brand.
5. Be present and active on social media: Social media is crucial in terms of your personal brand – and never more so than now, in these days of on-going coronavirus. Most employers and recruiters these days will check out your social media presence as part of the hiring process – and if they find a rounded and engaged person on the other end, your career chances will get a welcome boost. On the other hand, you may dash your prospects if something negative or embarrassing comes to light. No wonder then, that time invested here is never wasted.
Google your own name and see what comes up. If you find anything you wouldn’t want a potential employer to see, explore ways to remove it. Check your privacy settings to ensure you have full control over who gets to see your posts in future (keep your holiday snaps for just your friends, for example) – and as a rule don’t post anything that would embarrass you should they leak out.
Once you’ve got the basics sorted, go across your social media accounts and ensure they present a consistent picture of yourself. Ensure every aspect is complete and tell prospective employers everything you want them to know about you.
6. Twitter: If you’re not using Twitter (or only half-heartedly tweeting on the odd occasion) then investigate how to use the format properly. Look at the people you would like to work for or influential individuals in your field, follow them and retweet their posts. Engage with what is being said. Make your own comments. Demonstrate your knowledge, without sounding arrogant. You don’t just have to tweet about work – show what a rounded person you are. Twitter is a powerful tool for getting noticed so use it to your advantage. Wherever possible, link your tweets to articles, blogs, pictures, or video clips related to your message.
7. LinkedIn: LinkedIn is the critical site for your professional profile: time invested here is never wasted.
Make sure your LinkedIn profile is up to date and includes all your latest experience. Adding a friendly, professional and approachable photo will make your profile seven times more likely to be found in searches; add your two most recent jobs and you’ll boost those figures even more. Take every opportunity to source new testimonials/recommendations. Think also about what updates you could post to engage with your professional community. Is there an upcoming event you could comment on? Or a report coming out that’s relevant to your line of work?
This channel is typically the first port of call for potential employers and recruiters, so don’t ignore it!
8. Create a personal website: A personal website will help your personal brand. A simple website with an ‘About’ page and a blog is all you need to get started.
9. Start blogging: One way to establish a stronger professional identity is to blog about your chosen field – to establish yourself as an expert in your field. You could even consider vlogging or recording podcasts – the more variety the better. The more ways in which your audience can engage with your content, the stronger your personal brand will become.
10. Don’t panic – a journey of 1,000 miles…
It takes time to develop a strong personal brand. You don’t have to do all the above overnight. Take one step at a time, think little and often, and before you know it you will have a brand to be proud of – and one that will work wonders for you with seemingly little effort (once you’re established it’s a case of keeping on top of it, not constantly reinventing the wheel).
You never know, you even may find you enjoy the journey.
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