How to Build Your Personal Brand
Photo by Paweł Czerwiński
Coca-Cola, Microsoft, and Amazon are all brands. We’re familiar with their marketing and branding. They have logos, jingles, and a slogan.
Jay-Z. Cher. Bill Clinton.
Regardless of your opinion of any of these people, they all have one thing in common: They are their own personal brand.
So, what if you’re not a multi-billionaire businessperson or a celebrity? Do you need to create your own personal brand?
Yes. You are your own brand. We are each our own brand in the internet age.
Potential employers will look you up online. If you run your own business, your customers will expect you to have a brand. Even if you’re a freelancer, a writer, an artist, or mommyblogger, you are your own brand.
What is a personal brand?
A personal brand is essentially like a corporate brand. It’s how you convey who you are, what you do, and why someone would want to hire or work with you.
How you can create your personal brand
There are lots of things that you can do to create a brand for yourself. If you don’t have time or don’t want to learn to do all of this, you can always hire a personal branding service.
Here are a few steps to creating your personal brand:
- Understand yourself – You need to understand who you are before you can begin to brand yourself. What do you do? What’s your motivation? What don’t you do? What don’t you do well? Work with friends, family, and coworkers to understand these questions. You need a clear image of who you are, how others perceive you, and most importantly, where you want to be/how you want to be perceived. If you need a great example what this type of personal definition looks like, take the time to look at Anthony Robbins – especially his biography and his mission statement.
- What do you want to be when you grow up? – What do you want people to think of when they think of you? For example, when you think of Coca-Cola, you think refreshing and thirst quenching. If you’re a designer, you want people to think that you can create the ideal logo or the perfect packaging.
- Know your audience – If you’re an attorney and you specialize in family law, your audience will be people considering a divorce. If you’re a copywriter, you might specialize in writing emails for online businesses. You need to know whom you’re talking to to be able to speak to them directly.
- Talk to people in your industry – Look at the industry you want to work with. Once you know who your audience is, you’ll know what industry they’re in or their situation. The next step is to talk to those people. Talk to current customers to find out what prompted them to choose you, when they decided they needed to look for someone, and what needs you fill. You can even talk to people who aren’t your direct competition, but are in a similar business. For example, if your branding yourself as a personal chef in New York, talk to a successful personal chef in LA to see how they became successful.
- “You’ve got 30 seconds.” – Create an elevator speech. Most people will only give you a few seconds, especially if they’re powerful and running a whole company. You need to have a convincing elevator speech. Find a way to sell yourself in 30 to 60 seconds.
- Start networking – Networking, in person and online, is the best way to get your brand out into the world. Personal brands, except for someone like Anthony Robbins who has been at it for decades, grow most quickly on a personal level. Start sharing your brand with your past customers, friends, and family. If you’re an app designer, start telling everyone about your personal brand or business so when they’re asked, “Who do you know that can design an app?”, your name is the first thing out of their mouths.
Then next level for you is to get more active in looking for customers:
Ask for referrals and recommendations
Ask your contacts for referrals and recommendations. A referral will be directly to someone who needs you now. A recommendation is simply a great review. Both of these require one simple act on your part: ask! Ask people to help you grow your brand and business.
If you’re building a brand to get a great job, start asking people if they know a company that employ people like you. Those companies might not be hiring right now, but they might be soon. Be ahead of the crowd and start networking with people in that company before they need you.
Build your online presence
It’s time to launch your brand to the world. There are a huge number of ways and places to build your brand.
● LinkedIn – The world’s largest professional social media site, this is the place to post updates, do virtual networking, and even look for a job. The key to LinkedIn is to start with who you know (connect with them), then expand your circles to people who are in the industries and companies that you want to work with and for.
● Facebook – Even if you’re a professional who feels like Facebook is a waste, you need a Facebook profile. You can keep it professional. You need to be there because everyone else is there. 69% of American adults are on Facebook.1
● Website – Create a personal website. This is your chance to define yourself. It’s that simple. You don’t need to build some monstrous site. It can be a single page that includes your photo, an introduction to yourself, and your CV/resume. Done right, a website will help you rank high on Google and look great online.
● Blog – A blog is a great way to get your thoughts out into the world. Keep it professional and helpful. When your blogs show up in Google searches, you’ll find yourself getting fans and building a business. You are setting yourself up as an expert.
● Twitter – While Twitter is not popular in some places, it’s a favorite of busy professionals. They can get lots of news in just a few minutes. That’s where you need to be, sharing your knowledge and mission.
There are always more places to be. Many professions have their own social media sites and networking sites. Find them and share your information and ideas.
Building your own brand is the perfect way to start networking and growing your professional profile.
One of the easiest ways to build a personal brand is to hire a personal branding service. They can do all of the above items and more on your behalf. This is a great option for anyone who’s already working full-time or simply wants to look great online quickly.