For many professionals it’s important and even essential to build a personal brand. Building a personal brand positions you as a leader, sets you apart from the competition and helps you get better clients or a better job. But what exactly is a personal brand? And how do you build one?
Personal branding is how your present yourself to the world and establish yourself as an authority in your industry. And just like we often take great care in looking our best for a party or special event, a personal brand should be unique, interesting and stand out from the crowd. But how do you build a personal brand and become more recognized in your industry?
Here are 7 steps for building a personal brand:
1. Be Authentic
The most important aspect to consider when building a personal brand is that it is a reflection of your true self. One of the biggest mistakes for people who are starting to build their personal brand is that they look at other influencers and thought leaders and say “I want to be like them”. This is a common feeling, but it’s important that your brand reflects who you truly are because if you are caught “faking it”, your audience may not trust you.
Try answering the following:
- What is important to you?
- What do you stand for?
- What aspects of your life are the most rewarding?
- What traits make you unique and memorable?
2. Determine Your Area of Expertise
With personal branding your goal is to position yourself as a thought leader in a specific niche or field of expertise. The more specific your niche, the better chance you have to get noticed and stand out. You may have a lot of general knowledge, but think about what you want to really be known for. The more focused you are on your area of expertise, the more powerful your personal brand will be.
Try answering the following:
- What are you most passionate about?
- Who are other experts in your field?
- What makes you different or better than them?
- What value can you to provide to others?
3. Develop Your Personal Branding Strategy
Just like a business brand, it’s important that your personal brand has a consistent image, voice and character that your audience can recognize and relate to. Consider using professional photography that presents your personal brand image in the best light. Remember, you want to establish a reputation as an authentic person and an expert that your audience can trust.
Remember a personal brand is not all about you and what you are doing, it is about how your knowledge, values and expertise can help others. Your brand should consistently focus on being helpful and providing knowledge to others so that they will come to recognize you as a knowledgeable consultant and leader in your field of expertise.
4. Build Your Website and Social Media Profiles
Building a personal brand is all about gaining visibility and managing how you appear to others online. If you don’t have a website, one of the best ways to rank for your name is to build a website that contains your own name. Remember, just like we want to dress up and look our best for special occasions, our personal brand website should look professional and reflect our unique character traits.
The next step is to build your social media profiles. While there are tons of social media channels to choose from, we think that Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter are essential. Think about posting a short news item or update at least once a day to these channels.
5. Write Blog Articles and Create Content
Once you have determined your area of expertise, it’s time to start building your reputation through blogging and content marketing. Content marketing refers to the strategy of developing short articles (about 400-500 words) on specific topics related to your area of focus.
Think about the common problems your audience has and write articles that offer solutions to these problems. Then post these articles either on your own website or reach out and offer to guest blog on a reputable blog that you think gets a high volume of traffic. When you are guest blogging make sure that you provide an author bio and receive a link back to your own website so that readers can learn more about you.
Tip: Finding Website Traffic
- You can find website traffic statistics from Alexa.com
The more you write, the more you will become recognized as a trusted source, leading to more opportunities in your professional life. Content marketing is also a great way to improve your website SEO and search rankings over time and should be a consistent part of your overall marketing strategy efforts.
6. Try YouTube Video
While Google is the highest trafficked search engine, did you know that YouTube is the second largest search engine? If you are comfortable working with video, then YouTube is an essential channel for gaining personal brand visibility. One thing to keep in mind is that attention spans are very short these days so try to keep your videos in the 4-8 minute range.
When working with video, keep your online presence as professional as possible and work from a script or outline. Just like professional newscasters dress up for their job, you will want to look your best in your videos. Finally, when you post your video online, don’t forget to put a link back to your website in your video description.
7. Consider Speaking Engagements and Networking Events
Once you have gained some practice with YouTube, the next natural outlet is to speak in front of groups. Speaking engagements are a great way to grow your audience and position yourself as an expert in your niche. The way to find these opportunities is to build relationships with influencers and other individuals in your field. Perhaps you can give a talk at your local chamber of commerce or business networking group?
To find networking opportunities in your city, try typing these queries into Google:
- [your city] business events
- [your city] networking events
- [your city] business events calendar
When you have an opportunity to speak in front of an audience make sure to rehearse your presentation, appear confident, and speak from a position of knowledge and authority. Your presentation should include stories or case studies that support your topic since people love real stories and they help demonstrate your expertise much more than general information and facts.
When networking, try to build real relationships with people. Building face-to-face relationships and connections in your city or community can be a great way to generate more opportunities.
Creating a Personal Brand Takes Time
Developing your personal brand is like growing a garden, once you develop your personal branding strategy and start gaining visibility with your audience, you will be in a great position to generate more opportunities in your professional life. The key is to stay authentic, always amplify your personal brand values, and be consistent with your content marketing, social media and networking efforts – they are the water that will help your personal brand grow.