By: Chris Skaggs | @chrislskaggs
According to Wikipedia (the ultimate authority in 2016, as we all know it), personal branding is the practice of people marketing themselves and their careers as brands. The term is thought to have been first used and discussed in a 1997 article by Tom Peters.
If you are thinking, “I’m not important enough to have a brand,” you couldn’t be more wrong. To move ahead in any career, you need to know all about creating and cultivating a dynamic personal brand.
In this post, we'll talk about what personal branding is, why it matters, and how to create and manage your own personal career brand.
WHAT IS PERSONAL BRANDING?
Essentially your personal brand is how you appear to the world – both online and offline. As people become more aware of who you are as a professional (and person outside of work) and what your expertise or passions are, you will become a trusted voice in your industry. It's extremely important to be genuine and intriguing as you build your personal brand.
Authenticity is key, and the alternative – being fake or trying to be someone you are not – can kill a personal brand before it even has a chance to take off.
Personal branding is all about creating a reputation — aka, a brand — that describes and portrays your career and professional persona. It’s about who you are, what you do, how you work, and where you want to go. Like a consumer brand, a personal brand not only tells your story, it sets the stage for growth – in the case of personal branding, that’s a future career path. A personal brand goes beyond the basic resume to deliver a more complete picture of who you are professionally.
HOW DO I BUILD A PERSONAL BRAND?
Begin by researching yourself. Seriously, just Google yourself, I won't tell anyone. You need to first know what, if anything, is out there about you. Does your online presence (or lack thereof) portray you as the epitome of business professional, a fleeting memory, or a hot mess?
If you have zero online presence, it’s time to start that blog or Twitter account and build some search results for your name. If you have online accounts, but have let them lapse, spruce up your search engine optimization (SEO) with updates about what you’ve been doing to stay sharp or thoughts on the latest industry news.
If your online profiles are downright embarrassing, do whatever you can to tidy up by removing and untagging photos, deleting updates that don’t show your best, and improving or deleting anything you can edit.
If it's Kardashian tragic, sometimes it’s easier to delete the entire profile and start from scratch.
SOCIAL MEDIA IS INTEGRAL TO BUILDING A STRONG PERSONAL BRAND
A solid personal brand comprises the full package of a great resume, interpersonal skills, and online presence. Being active on various social media channels is an easy (and free) way to make your online presence remarkable.
You should be regularly posting content on your social media channels that reinforce your personal brand. Not a great writer? Neither was I, but to start, content curation is an easy way to grow your base and stay relevant. According to an article by Hootsuite, "the process of content curation is the act of sorting through large amounts of content on the web and presenting the best posts in a meaningful and organized way."
Sharing content written by others in your industry shows you have a good grasp on the market, including your competition. Content curation portrays confidence that you aren't afraid to virtually applaud the work of others. You can also potentially increase your followers by connecting to other potentially more well known brands.
Final word on social media: consistency is king (and content is queen). Across all your social accounts strive for a consistent message (biographies, usernames, profile pictures, etc.) that solidifies your brand.
CONSIDER BUILDING A PERSONAL WEBSITE
So you Googled yourself, you finally started that blog, now what? A personal website can be a great way to not only boost your search engine results but also showcase much more than a resume can.
There are some great tools available today to make creating your own website a snap. A personal website gives you total control over content, so you can post a resume as well as additional pages to outline your career mission statement, awards, samples of your work, links to social media accounts, and even a blog.
From a recruiter's perspective who looks at hundreds of resumes daily, a personal website can be a unique way to show off your stuff in a fun, refreshing and authentic way.
BUILD YOUR BRAND, STAND OUT
In today’s market, you need to stand out, and a dynamic personal brand helps you do just that. While you are selling yourself, your authority, and your successes, don’t forget to also provide a little humility and talk about some shortcomings. Just get started! Anyone can build and cultivate a dynamic personal brand with a little time and effort.